The 8th Annual LOCALTOPIA, “A Community Celebration of All Things Local,” presented by the Independent Business Alliance, Keep Saint Petersburg Local (KSPL), and voted “Best Festival” two years in a row, is ON! The event is now set for February 20th from 10-5 p.m.
Last year’s LOCALTOPIA 2020 was the biggest one ever staged by Keep Saint Petersburg Local (KSPL). A few short weeks after, was when our world changed. LOCALTOPIA 2020 was one of the last, large special events to take place before the pandemic began. Thankfully, they were still able to put on the festival, at which vendors experienced a record sales day. Many have shared that their participation that day is what has kept them in business. As many of LOCALTOPIA’s vendors are makers, they did not qualify for PPP loans and/or grants, and any assistance that they did receive did not kick in until months later.
Every year they are proud to say that LOCALTOPIA 2021 will be bigger and better than the previous year. This year, that is not a claim we can make; however, even if it is not the biggest one ever, this year’s LOCALTOPIA 2021 will be the most important one they have ever presented. Many of this year’s participants’ livelihoods depended upon markets and events, which have not taken place this past year. Due to spikes in our area’s COVID-19 case numbers after the holidays, many events at which they were hoping to participate have been cancelled.
Planning for this year’s festival was already challenging enough due to pandemic-related issues: No major sponsors | No draft beer sales (and alcohol sales are expected to decrease significantly) – In an abundance of caution, we chose to not have draft beer this year. We also chose to not operate the event in its normal “sip/eat & stroll” manner, as part of our COVID-19 Plan. There will only be one area where attendees can remove masks when actively consuming food and drinks. It also meant having to move all the food and drink vendors out of Williams Park, and off 3rd Street, where many have normally been interspersed.
They will now all be located on the same street for safety, and to have them right next to the area where eating and drinking can take place. We will still have food trucks lined up in the “Food Truck Rally Alley” on 4th Street, but no eating and drinking can take place there, and we will also have more food trucks on 2nd Avenue, alongside the other food and drink vendors. (On the plus side, it will create the biggest and best “Local Food Hall” in St. Pete, with nearly 50 of our City’s favorites all in one place!) Less vendors – As much as we would have wanted to have more vendors this year, we have created more distance between them than normally exists at the event. We added even more space between them in Williams Park, to allow for more room on the paths inside the Park.
As they will only be located on one side of those paths, this creates an automatic directional as there will not be anything to see on the other side, plus more room to spread out. | Less volunteers (LOCALTOPIA is volunteer-powered) – We expected to have less volunteers this year due to varying comfort levels. Even though we have been so incredibly lucky to have volunteers returning year after year, some of them may be immuno-comprised. We would not want to have anyone participating who does not feel comfortable being at the event, and/or cannot participate due to medical conditions.
Our extensive COVID-19 Plan was already taxing our limited funding and resources before Pinellas County issued its Emergency Order No. 21-3 on January 21, 2021. “Any other event organizer would have chosen to cancel. But it is Keep Saint Petersburg Local that puts on LOCALTOPIA,” says Olga Bof, Founder/Executive Director. “As a mission-led event, rather than one that is purely profit-led, we know how important this day is for our vendors. LOCALTOPIA is not a superfluous event, it is a vital, economic stimulus for our community. Last year’s festival had an economic impact of nearly $4 million dollars on just LOCALTOPIA Day.
The 2020 Economic Impact Study’s results only included non-residents; it would have been much higher if it included our locals, who are the majority of those who attend. It also did not reflect the event’s impact post-pandemic – how many of the participants not only were able to stay in business, but that our locals were seeking them out months after the festival. Because of all of this, we have a responsibility, and an obligation, to do everything we absolutely can to put this event on this year. It is going to be exceedingly difficult to do it, but it is our duty to do so – for our vendors, for our Independent Business Alliance’s members, and for our City. We also know that we are operating in the safest way we possibly can, following all CDC, County and City guidelines. There are other events that have already happened, that did not operate in the way LOCALTOPIA will be managed. We completely understand that not everyone will feel comfortable attending this year. But those who do feel comfortable attending this outdoor, masked event are asked to adhere to all the measures in place for everyone’s benefit.
Despite the challenges and COVID measures, we have still planned a very special festival, with new elements including a new arts area, as we still want to provide engaging art experiences this year. LOCALTOPIA 2021 will still feel like St. Pete’s best “Community Celebration of All Things Local.” We hope that everyone will still bring the best vibes they have always brought out on LOCALTOPIA Day!
Next year, we hope to put on the biggest LOCALTOPIA ever to make up for this past crazy year! But many of those participating will not be around if we do not support them right now! Whether you choose to come to the festival, visit our brick-and-mortars, or you are still only comfortable buying online, please do all you can to help Keep St. Pete Local, right now, more than ever!”
• MAKERS & MERCHANTS: Art & Handcrafted Goods, Artisanal & Plant-Based Food & Beverages, Body/Self-Care, Books, Clothing & Accessories, Home Decor, Jewelry, Pet, Plants & Plant-Based Products, Vintage, Vinyl & Much More! (Find all the Vendors HERE)
• VILLAGES: Arts Village | Family Village | Health & Wellness Village | #AllThingsPlants Village (Learn more about the Villages HERE)
• EAT & DRINK LOCAL: 4th Street: Food Truck Rally Alley | 2nd Avenue: More Food Trucks + Restaurants + Food & Drink Vendors + “Local Thirst Stations” Selling Local Beer in Cans & Canned Wine (Find all the Vendors HERE)
• 3RD STREET (Between 1st and 2nd Avenues): Boutiques | DJ (Owner of STUFT Gourmet Foods – 1 of 2 DJs we will have this year) | Literary Corner | Street Fun
NEW FOR LOCALTOPIA 2021:
• 2ND AVENUE (Between 2nd and 3rd Streets): Our New Arts Area will allow you to experience street art from a safe distance. In addition to the CARMADA Art Cars you’ll find on the street, you can watch one being live painted by artist, JUJMO. You can also shop for art from the nearly dozen artists on this newly-added street, as you listen to DJ Roger Thomas (Find all the Vendors HERE)
• LIVE LOCAL MUSIC on the Williams Park Bandstand (View the Lineup HERE)
• STREET ART & PERFORMANCES for All Ages & More Surprises!
About Keep Saint Petersburg Local:
Keep Saint Petersburg Local is a non-profit organization, affiliated with the American Independent Business Alliance, working to build a thriving local economy and a unique community. The Alliance does this by nurturing connections for and acting as the voice of locally owned, independent businesses and by raising awareness of the importance of buying local.
About Local Businesses:
Independent, locally owned businesses are essential to a vital local economy and community character. They use the goods and services of other local businesses. They are owned by our friends and neighbors, or maybe even you (they employ our friends and neighbors too). Community-serving businesses are the backbone of local economies, civic life, local charities, and wealth creation for millions of citizens, as well as a training ground for future generations of entrepreneurs.
The problem is that today, independent businesses face unprecedented competition from larger chain competitors, internet merchants and franchises that enjoy national or international branding power and major economies of scale. As a result, community-based businesses comprise a smaller portion of our economy than ever before. We will lose much more than places to shop, dine or do business if we allow current trends to continue. Photos displayed are for editorial purposes only showing past Localtopia events.
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