Gulfport’s 16th annual GeckoFest promises a full day of free family-friendly fun on Saturday, September 3rd from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. The streets of the waterfront village will be filled with live music on two stages, hundreds of food, art and craft vendors, kids’ activities, and up close and personal street performances by a bevy of acrobats, magicians, daredevils, dancers, aerialists, escape artists, fire eaters, balloon artists and costumed characters. GeckoFest is located along Beach and Shore Boulevards in the heart of Gulfport.
The theme for this year’s festival is “20,000 Geckos Under the Sea!” Join in the spirit by arriving in your choice of “salty,” “steampunk,” “geckofied” or other costume. The GeckoFest wacky walking parade invites everyone to join in at 6:00. A costume contest for kids and adults will take place after the parade. The festival will be flanked by two stages offering music throughout the day and night. The line-up for 2016 emphasizes local talent from Tampa Bay. Hours of lively tunes will come from singers and bands including Rosewood Creek, the Southern Road Dog Band, Laura Shepherd, Dan Stevens, Rich and Joe, the D20 Band, Paul Anthony Band and more. GeckoFest ends on a high note each year with its ever-popular, high-energy street dance starting at 8:00.
GeckoFest’s strolling and stationary street performers bring fun, thrills and a circus atmosphere to the village with a chance to get close to the action. Entertainers will make you laugh, gasp and applaud. Step right up and participate in a magic trick. Witness extreme stunts happening just a few feet away. Tie up an escape artist and watch him maneuver out of his bonds. Pose for photos with your favorite characters. Take home your own free, fanciful balloon creation.
This year’s street performers include past favorites and brand new ones. Father-son duo Dallas and Nick are reprising their amazing feats of fire juggling and escape artistry. The Amazing Kenny returns with his mixture of stilt-walking, juggling, fire-eating and ballooning. Comedy/stunt artist David Ferman creates both laughter and wow-worthy daredevilry. Crazy Indy climbs into his Cyr wheel to perform outlandish acrobatic feats. Magician Rafael Villa amazes crowds with sleight of hand. Loz Primoz International Breakerz will entertain crowds with body-twisting energy. Other jugglers, magicians, acrobats, face painters, mimes, dancers and aerialists will be on hand throughout the festival area. Favorite costumed characters will be roving the village ready to pose with you for your photos, including pirate Captain Jack, Darth Vader, Spiderman, and the “O-Fish-Al” Gecko Goddess, as well as “living statues,” more pirates, fairies, undersea creatures and giant geckos. The WONDER FLOW fire show will light up the night after the sun goes down.
Up to 200 vendors will offer arts, crafts and other goods, as well as foods from across the spectrum to complement the many local restaurants in the village. Beer and wine will also be offered at two festival locations. Purchases from GeckoFest vendors, as well as Gulfport’s own, shops, galleries and restaurants support local, home-grown small businesses. Parking for GeckoFest is free. Free shuttles also offer visitors an opportunity to park in off-site locations for transportation to and from their vehicle and the festival site. For more information on GeckoFest, directions and parking go to www.GeckoFest.com. Like the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/GeckoFest. GeckoFest offers a fun-filled opportunity to explore quirky Gulfport, a wonderful slice of “Old Florida,” on one of its most colorful days of the year.
GeckoFest is preceded each year by the Gecko Art Show, Gecko Crawl and Gecko Ball. All events are hosted by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association. This year’s GeckoFest is sponsored by the following supporters: BeachLife, Budweiser, City of Gulfport, GEICO, Go Tonight, Golin Harris/Tobacco Free Florida, Gulfport Beach Bazaar, Jim’s Harley Davidson, Key West Express, Paradise News, Pet Supermarket, ProSuzy, Rainbow 411/GSH Radio, Smokin’ J’s BBQ, Staywell, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tampa Bay Times, tbt, The Gabber, and YELP. A portion of proceeds from all Gecko events benefits local charities each year. This year’s charitable recipients include the Gulfport Historical Society and First Florida Frontiers.
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