Gasparilla Music Festival brings bands, business to downtown Tampa

8:57 PM, Mar 9, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- The world renown festival SXSW is kicking off this weekend in Austin, Texas. But Tampa Bay is kicking off the second year of its own music festival, bringing big indie rock and other acts to Downtown Tampa.

Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the Gasparilla Music Festival taking over Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Gardens.

All of the food sold at the festival is local. So are a lot of the bands. Headliners include surf pop band Best Coast, indie rock band Dr. Dog, and The Meter Men featuring Page McConnell from Phish.

"We want to showcase Tampa," says Gasparilla Music Festival President David Cox. "We want to highlight the best parts of the city."

Nearly three dozen bands will perform on one of four different stages all day Saturday, until the shows end around 11:30 p.m. The festival is bringing in both locals and visitors.

"We do have a lot of people that rented hotel rooms," Cox says. "The biggest challenge was last year, getting it started. Year two, I think, we've got some wind behind our sails and we've got good community support."

Some first-time attendees, like Nick Casciotta of Brandon, plan to stay all day. 

"I think it's good for Tampa," he says. "It brings a lot of people downtown that probably don't come here a lot."

That's why the festival is music to the ears of the city.

"I'm so proud of the young men who put this together, that did it with virtually nothing, and they have turned it into something special and it's going to get bigger and bigger every year," says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Think about what this park looked like three years ago and what it looks like today, and look at the activity that's taken place here."

Since all the food vendors at the festival are Tampa-area restaurants, it could help bring more long-term sales to places like The Independent Bar and Cafe in Seminole Heights.

"We're hoping that the remaining Tampa Bay area will come and visit our establishment by tasting our food here," says owner Veronica Danko. "Being here, people will actually know that we serve food if they didn't know."

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