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Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Localtopia to celebrate all things St. Pete


Published:   |   Updated: February 1, 2014 at 09:19 AM

ST. PETERSBURG — A downtown park that’s avoided by many will turn into a carnival ground Saturday, showcasing the city’s best local artists, merchants, musicians and brewers.

The empty band shell, once a draw for big crowds in Williams Park, will be alive with opera singers, indie rock bands and belly dancers, among others.

People can take a shot at one of the city’s oldest forms of entertainment on a miniature shuffleboard court.

Beneath the park’s shade tree canopy will be 100 vendors representing local shops, restaurants, nonprofits and, of course, the new batch of craft beer makers.

Localtopia, dubbed “a community celebration of all things local,” marks two years for St. Petersburg’s independent business alliance Keep Saint Petersburg Local.

Alliance head Olga Bof hopes to roll nearly everything residents and visitors love about this city into one daylong party, with a special spotlight on the ever-growing ranks of entrepreneurs and business owners that have repopulated dozens of empty storefronts in recent years.

The festivities, which run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., may also show people a brighter, more family-friendly Williams Park, with children playing musical instruments and making clay valentines or springing up and down in a blow-up bouncy castle. “As people come in, we’re already subliminally messaging, look at this park; there are children frolicking,” Bof said.

There will be something for everyone, Bof added, and the long list of activities and vendors seems to bear out her claim. Glass artist Duncan McClellan will run a mobile glass lab for etching glass plates; in another corner of the park, skateboarders will do tricks in a mini skate park.

People can give holistic medicine a try with free sessions by St. Petersburg Community Acupuncture or peruse trendy baby clothes from several local stores.

In front of the bandstand, spectators can get a taste of old St. Petersburg in VIP lounges arranged with vintage furniture from dealers along Central Avenue.

There’s also the beer garden that should please brew enthusiasts with taps from the city’s brewers and guests such as Funky Buddha from Fort Lauderdale and Swamp Head from Gainesville.

Mayor Rick Kriseman is expected, as well as a big crowd, especially if the weather manages to stay above 60 degrees.

“We are chanting a mantra that goes into the universe that goes like this: it will be sunny and 72 degrees,” Bof said. Indeed, the forecast for Saturday is 77 degrees and sunny.

jboatwright@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-1277

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