St. Pete Pier’s first fall festival attracts 30,000
Families flocked to a pumpkin patch on the St. Pete Pier, posing for pictures next to scarecrows and pumpkins stacked on haybales while around the corner, endless lines formed for funnel cakes and corndogs.
This weekend was the first-ever St. Pete Pier Fall Festival, giving St. Petersburg a taste of the season (even in our sunny weather) and the demand was overwhelming, far more than the city projected, with 30,000 attendees.
“I never expected this,” St. Petersburg Concessions Inc. Owner Cary Petron said.
“We had no way of knowing how big of a crowd it would be, and we never like to run out of food for customers,” Petron said, explaining how it’s bittersweet to experience such a major draw. “I’ve been in the business for years, and this was extreme. I think most of the vendors ran out of food, but we would try to help each other out as much as we could.”
He said the neighboring vendors would provide utensils and swap other supplies to one another as the lines continued to build.
“When we go to concerts and other events, we usually still have food left over,” Petron said.
Petron said he would love to return to the event next year knowing the incredible demand.
Approximately, there were 15,000 to 20,000 attendees on Saturday alone, said Ferdian Jap with Big City Events, which is contracted by the City of St. Petersburg to activate and market the Pier. Roughly 10,000 attended the event Sunday.
The estimation is based on comparing the festival to other events at the Pier, as the event was admission-free.
While there were thousands of mouths to feed, pumpkin pickers were also mission-driven to purchase a pumpkin to take home.
Jap said they ordered 5,000 pumpkins for the weekend-long event and will now have to reorder 3,500, as the pumpkin patch will remain open until next week.
For a while, the approach of Hurricane Ian threatened to cancel or postpone the festival.
Big City Events had a $70,000 budget for the event, with a primary focus on marketing it through social media, Jap said.
In the planning stages is a putt-putt event at the Pier for December. Inevitably, golf balls are destined to fall into the water; however, these particular balls will disintegrate into fish food.