Last year, it was an experiment — the county's first foray into the type of live music events that communities to the south such as Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater have long recognized as signatures for the lifestyles touted in their Chamber of Commerce brochures.
Saturday's second annual Reggae Sunfest at Linda Pedersen Park promises an improved version of the leisurely, laid-back experience that drew more than 2,000 people last year.
"We're much better organized this year," county parks department manager Harry Johnson said.
Saturday's event will feature four acts, including the Louisiana reggae/funk trio Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor.
Lead guitarist Turner has been playing music in and around his native Baton Rouge for more than 30 years. A devotee of Bob Marley, Turner began fusing elements of the reggae master's music with the Southern blues and jazz styles of his guitar heroes, B.B. King and George Benson.
Turner and his group have performed all over the United States, including at the Bethlehem, Pa., Musikfest, and at Caribbean Fest in Richmond, Va. In addition, the band was part of the national Bob Marley Festival tours from 1997 to 2002.
Returning will be regional supporting acts the Local Celebrity Band and the Caribbean Steel Drums group.
Event coordinator Christie Williams said that news of last year's success has created a great deal of interest from vendors. More than 30 sellers of arts and crafts have signed up, along with nine food and beverage vendors. In addition, several nonprofit groups will have information booths.
Like last year, adults will be able to buy beer and wine at booths staffed by county employees. The sale of alcohol inside a county park by county employees created a minor stir in advance of last year's Reggae Sunfest. Not so this year, Johnson said.
County staffers have gone through extensive training, he said, and will be responsible for checking IDs and watching for any signs of intoxication.
Patrons who want to buy alcohol will have to show proper photo identification. No outside food, drinks or coolers will be allowed in the park.
Johnson believes that Reggae Sunfest may be on its way to becoming a premiere outdoor music event.
"It's a relaxing way to spend the day," he said.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.