The Sunshine City Festival is a block party being held on Central Avenue, in the Grand Central District on Saturday, February 23rd. Come out and celebrate the unique characteristics of St. Petersburg with a nod to “Old Florida,” in what promises to be beautiful weather this weekend.
Grand Central District Sunshine City Festival & Chili Cookoff
Grand Central District Association
2400-2500 Block of Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sponsorship, vendor and volunteer opportunities are available.
The festival will include live music, arts and crafts vendors, and food vendors. Entertainment will be provided by Tampa Bay’s own American Idol contestant Melissa McGhee, as well as local artists Steve Arvey & the Band of Steves, and Scotty Lee & the Treblehooks.
Artwork has been donated for a Chance Drawing by artist Dianne F. Caton, Caton Pottery, a New Zealander living and working in the US for over 30 years. She currently lives in Historic Kenwood.
Stop by and say hello to art businesses on the block, including The Art Supply Store, at 2429 Central Avenue, and Grand Central Stained Glass & Graphics in their new building at 2401 Central Avenue, where you can purchase supplies or take classes. A great place to share creativity and camaraderie, even if you are an absolute beginner, is Painting With A Twist, at 2527 Central Avenue. Follow along and paint with a local artist, while having fun with friends at a private party, or joining a regularly scheduled class at this relaxed studio.
The Sunshine City Festival includes the 8th Annual Chili Cookoff. The Chili Cookoff will run from 12 p.m to 3 p.m. The entries will be tasted and scored by celebrity judges, including Q105 WRBQ’s Scott Walker, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer players. Winners will be announced in multiple categories:
- Best Restaurant Chili
- Best Business Chili
- Best Individual Chili
- Best Neighborhood Chili
- People’s Choice Chili
The Restaurant Chili category is going to be fierce! Entries include The Burg Bar & Grill, CA CAFE (At the Historic Seaboard Train Station), Maysters Cafe, Ricky P's Orleans Bistro, Georgie's Alibi St. Petersburg and Tijuana Flats.
Admission is free to enjoy the entertainment and street vendors. The Grand Central District is pedestrian friendly and can be easily reached via the Central Avenue Trolley, which makes several stops within the District.
The chili tasting tickets are limited, and are $15 in advance or $20 on the day of the event, based on availability. Chili tasting tickets can be purchased at this link and include tastings of all the chili entries, and one vote in the People’s Choice category.
A nonprofit organization, The Grand Central District Association, one of over 40 Florida Main Street Communities, will be hosting the Sunshine City Festival. The GCDA is made up of business owners and executives working together to make the district a great place for locals and visitors to congregate for retail, dining and entertainment.
The Grand Central District is located just west of Downtown St. Petersburg, including the 1600-3100 blocks of Central Avenue, as well as First Avenues North and South. This area has a growing art scene, with the slogan, "Where Art is Made," and it is part of a larger general area known as the Warehouse Arts District, from 1st Ave. North to 10th Ave. South, and from 16th Street to 31st Street, St. Petersburg. A group that formed to help with developing the area, says, "Our vision is to create a community that will attract artists from all over the country to live and work here.”
There are now about 16 arts businesses and organizations in the area, with more coming in every day, a working home to more than 200 artists. For many years, the warehouses in much of this area were occupied by industrial businesses, along with other small manufacturing companies. The artists are finding strength and community by coming together, sharing resources, supporting one another, and creating another well-known arts destination for the city. Some are taking over large warehouses and dividing them into studio spaces to rent out to selected professional artists, like the "Soft Water Studios" project, the new working space of fine artist Carrie Jadus, adjacent to MGA Sculpture Studio, the studio of sculptor Mark Aeling. Some artists, like Aeling, have already been here for years, anchoring the area, and continuing to help with the growth of the arts scene. A nearby neighbor of Aeling's, long-time resident Duncan McClellan, has his gorgeous gallery of glass art in the district. Duncan invested in making a 7,800 square foot fish and tomato packing plant into a beautiful, multi- functional space. McClellan recently added a new hot shop to the premises.
Several art studios and galleries have opened on Central on the 2300 block within the last year, including Artissin, Anime on Central, and now Sarah Dees Art and the Milton Rochman Gallery. Milton Rochman's paintings will be displayed for one day during the festival at Paco Bar, 2315 Central Avenue.
Marina Williams will hold a Crafty Fest outdoors at her ARTpool gallery, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m,, Feb 23rd and February 24th, 2030 Central Avenue. While you are downtown, check out this art, crafts, vintage clothing, and antiques market. Five years ago in April, Williams created her retail store and gallery as a place to welcome the work of local artists, who might otherwise have had difficulty getting their work shown in a museum or more traditional gallery. She developed ARTpool into a great home for special events. When you shop local and buy handmade, you are supporting these Tampa Bay artists who are working so hard to make the downtown a vibrant, thriving arts culture zone for Central Florida. Williams has added a new cafe inside ARTpool, as well as a vinyl record store, run by her partner, Evan Williams.
Trolley tours are now bringing tourists and locals around to visit these studios and galleries, and on the Second Saturday of each month, most locations stay open late to greet visitors, many holding special events planned for this time each month.
Nearby and still going strong, the 600 Block of Central Avenue is populated with artists and galleries, and groups like I Love the 'Burg, Keep St. Petersburg Local, and the St. Petersburg Downtown Business Association continue to champion supporting local arts and businesses.
"The arts in St. Petersburg not only improves the city's quality of life, they are an economic powerhouse in the city, according to a new study. The city's arts and cultural organizations fuel an economic impact of more than $23 million and attract 1.3 million visitors to the city each year - creating 519 jobs." City of St. Petersburg, Florida
For more information, please contact:
Lauren Ruiz, Executive Director/Main Street Manager
Grand Central District Association
2429 Central Avenue Ste 210
St. Petersburg, FL 33713