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Localtopia returns to Williams Park this weekend

Ashley Morales

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Approximately 300 local vendors, makers and community organizations will be set up in and around Williams Park Saturday. Images provided.

One of St. Petersburg’s largest one-day festivals is returning this Saturday. 

Localtopia, St. Pete’s annual celebration of all things local, is set to take place Saturday (Feb. 24) at Williams Park, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival, presented by the nonprofit organization Keep Saint Petersburg Local, brings together more than 300 vendors showcasing area businesses, makers, artists and community organizations.

The all-ages event is free to attend and spreads beyond the park, taking over the surrounding streets with food trucks, beer and wine tents, live music and activities. The event is one of the busiest in the Sunshine City, with past attendance exceeding 40,000. The City of St. Petersburg maintains a “Major Events” page and Localtopia comes in second, after the Firestone Grand Prix and just before the Martin Luther King Jr. parade and celebration.

“We have several new vendors this year. We always try and mix it up every year, so it’s never the same experience,” said Olga Bof, founder and president of Keep St. Petersburg Local. “We feel that the event is beyond a market or festival; it’s a local vibe. We have that city pride on display and there’s a palpable magic in the air when people are at Localtopia.”

Localtopia 2024 event map.

Keep St. Petersburg Local was launched in 2011 and has been hosting Localtopia for the past 11 years. The nonprofit, affiliated with the American Independent Business Alliance, is a group of independent business owners and local advocates working to build a “thriving local economy and a unique community.”

Bof said hosting Localtopia started as a way to showcase St. Pete-based businesses and encourage residents to buy local. Everything at the festival is locally produced and sold – from the food trucks to the art and even the vegetables. Bof added that the festival has grown exponentially over the past 11 years and contributes significantly to the local economy.

“Many of our vendors have their best sales day of the year at Localtopia. For some of them, it’s literally carried them through the summer. One of our greatest success stories is actually Mother Kombucha, which started at the first Localtopia with a little six-foot table, and now they’re going to be celebrating their 10-year anniversary at this year’s festival. We love that the community comes and supports our local businesses in this great way, and the fact that there’s a mission behind Localtopia distinguishes it from your typical event.”

Bof expressed that, as local businesses and artisans face challenges leading many to shut down or move away, both longtime residents and new transplants have a key role in ensuring the things we love about the Sunshine City continue to last into the future.

“We’re experiencing kind of a flight from from our city, unfortunately, because some of these businesses are having to close and some of our makers are having to move away because they can’t afford to live here. If we lose them, it’s not only losing the awesomeness of St. Pete; that’s actually our city losing money. These are the businesses that create jobs and keep our economy going. So it’s incredibly important to keep it local, now more than ever.”

Localtopia has a rain date of March 2, but Bof said she’s been keeping an eye on the weather and is hopeful 2024 will be another year of good vibes and big crowds.

“It’s looking like we might have a wet setup day [on Friday], but we will definitely battle through it if we get to have a dry and sunny Localtopia day. I do feel like the sun will shine in the Sunshine City on Saturday.”

For those planning to attend, alternative transportation options such as free rides on the SunRunner from PSTA, free parking at Tropicana Field (Lots 1 & 2) courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays & Rowdies, and a free trolley service courtesy of Star Trolley. St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch will be on hand to officially open the event at 10 a.m.

Although the event is family-friendly, event organizers encourage attendees to leave pets at home due to the large crowds.

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