Mayor Rick Kriseman was among the 2,700 people at the inaugural St. Petersburg Tiny Home Festival, Saturday at the St. Pete College Allstate Center.
Organizers had capped ticket sales to avoid excessively long wait times in the hot April sun. Still, the lines snaked around the leafy campus, with visitors queuing up to walk through the 29 domiciles on display.
Open parking spaces were few and far between.
“It’s been crazy how people from all over the country are coming,” explained event coordinator Ester Venouziou. “Somebody from California was coming. We have snowbirds who have delayed going back home.
“A man called me and said ‘Twelve of us are driving up today; can we get tickets at the gate?’ I had to tell him no, we’re sold out, but you can come tomorrow.’”
Tickets for Sunday, the second and final day of the festival, will also be capped.
Accompanied by his wife, Kerry, and their son Samuel, Kriseman toured the festival grounds, chatting with citizens, tiny home owners and proponents and vendors from area small businesses and sustainability concerns.
After the mayor and his family were given a guided tour of a particularly tiny home, he emerged enthused.
“You talk about creating more opportunities for affordable, sustainable housing,” Kriseman said. “This is, I think, what you’re going to see a lot of people moving toward as housing costs continue to rise. This is a great option that people have available to them.
“The wide variety of tiny homes here really demonstrates how creative you can be, and the kind of living space you can create, in a very small area.”
Could he himself live tiny? Kriseman was asked. “I think oftentimes we tend to fill the space we have with things we really don’t need,” he replied. “But we keep them because we have the space. And so I think it forces you to be more disciplined.”
He said the cramped quarters reminded him of his college days, living in a dorm room. “Those were pretty small. And that was just a bed and a desk!
“In the one I just came out of, there’s a dining room table, a couch, a full kitchen, a full bathroom and a living space in the loft. I’d loved to have lived in something like that.”
The St. Petersburg Tiny Home Festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets, $20 plus a fee, are available here. If tickets remain, they will be $25 at the gate.