Gasparilla Music Festival Wants to Put Tampa Bay on the Map

Organizers behind the second annual festival say there’s more to the event than meets the eye.

Scan the lineup for the upcoming Gasparilla Music Festival and it is clear organizers are hip on the idea of delivering an eclectic mix of sounds with artists ranging from blues and country to jazz and rock.

What might not be clear is the vision for the festival, its future and the reasons why this one might be worth the drive from New Port Richey to attend.

Now in its second year, the festival was designed with two main purposes in mind, organizers say:

  • To create a signature musical event the Tampa Bay area can be proud of while drawing in visitors from other parts of the state and beyond
  • To bolster the area’s economy courtesy of those music-loving visitors while helping make the Bay area a place people want to visit – or better yet move to or stay in

“We want people to come out and see positive change (in downtown) and see what a great place Tampa is to live in,” said David Cox, president of the nonprofit festival’s board of directors. The intent is to “not just draw for one day, but also (to provide) a draw to stay.”

Roots for the one-day festival, which takes place this year on March 9, started to grow a few years back.

“We knew there was a demand to have a youthful, hip, progressive event in downtown Tampa,” Cox said. “When Curtis Hixon (Riverfront) Park opened, we just kind of jumped at the opportunity to get organized.”

Local Flavor is Key

While organizers say some of the acts that will take the stage March 9 come from outside the Tampa Bay area, the focus is on highlighting local businesses and the amenities that make the region great.

“A lot of us who put this together are small business owners,” Cox explained. “We started this thing as all volunteer and set it up as a nonprofit. (We are) a bunch of people who altruistically wanted to see something good happen for the city (and wanted to) do something good for it.

With that in mind, festival-goers will discover a cornucopia of local vendors and fare at the festival.

“We’re pretty adamant about our all-local approach,” echoed board member Manny Leto.

The food vendors include The Refinery, The Independent, Ella’s and other Tampa area favorites. Beer is being supplied by Yuengling, Cigar City Brewing and other local businesses.

What the Future Holds?

While it’s hard to tell what the economic impacts of the festival will be since this is only the second year, Cox says the hope is to grow the event and continue to increase its draw. The 2012 event pulled in an estimated 6,500 people. This year, organizers have a goal of 10,000.

The hope for five years from now is this: To have the festival’s bands playing “on multiple stages throughout downtown” while seeing the event grow to a two- or three-day production.

Right now the festival’s acts are using four stages and related activities take place in both Curtis Hixon and Kiley Gardens.

Want to Find Out More?

Be sure to check out: Gasparilla Music Festival Rocks Downtown March 9

You can also check out the festival’s website for ticket information and more details.


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