ST. PETERSBURG — The festival started small, as a catered gathering for friends and supporters of St. Pete Pride. But it always had the makings of something bigger.
"We always talked about making the Taste of Pride more of a standalone event," said organizer Brian Longstreth.
This year, it's happening. Taste of Pride is now a bona fide food festival in the streets of St. Petersburg. Today, more than a dozen restaurants — including Cappy's Pizza, Shackleton's Folly, Savannah's Cafe, the Queenshead Bar and Moon Under Water — will offer bites along Fifth Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue North in front of the Florida Craftsmen Gallery.
Musical acts Alan Darcy, Pepper MaShay and CeCe Peniston will perform, and the works of artist Martin Casuso will be on display. The event comes in conjunction with the annual InterPride convention, which started Thursday and runs through Sunday at the TradeWinds Resort. InterPride is the international association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex pride organizers.
Over the last two years, the InterPride conference was held in Zurich, Switzerland, and Vancouver, British Columbia — cold cities. St. Petersburg was chosen this year to up the temperature factor. Gay pride organizers will fly in from as far as Europe and Australia to meet, mingle and talk about issues including raising funds for pride events, engaging youths and celebrating gay pride in hostile environments.
"People are excited about meeting other people from all around the world and sharing their different experiences," said Longstreth. St. Pete Pride organizers are taking InterPride guests on a tour of the Holocaust Museum before the food festival today.
Longstreth hopes the food fest, open to the public, becomes even bigger next year, maybe held on the weekend at a bigger location, like a city park or the Coliseum.
"We'd love to see it grow," he said.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (727) 893-8857.