Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Last Friday concerts in Williams Park reduce vendor, lounge fees

ST. PETERSBURG — When the VIP lounge was $50 and the vendor fee was $300, visitors packed the house at the Last Friday concert in Williams Park.

Since the series began in December, thousands have attended the free concert, where the first national act performed in the park's bandstand, and thousands have been raised for charity.

But like everything else in a troubled economy, the concert series is making adjustments.

Organizers are reducing the VIP lounge fee to $25 and the fee it charges vendors to $100, in order to make sure that the event continues to be a success. The VIP lounge includes prime seating, food from selected area restaurants and hand-rolled cigars.

"Everybody is hurting a little bit, and we are trying to make each other grow," said Kevin Lilly Jr., a founder and organizer of the event. "We are lowering the fees just a little bit to create long-term partners."

The change comes after the recent demise of the Wednesday Midday Market, which folded after too few vendors agreed to continue participating, according to its manager.

Both events were created in partnership between the Friends of Williams Park and the city of St. Petersburg as a way to generate interest in the downtown park as a destination, amid fears that it had been taken over by the homeless and, at times, crime.

In a symbolic ceremony during last month's concert, Mayor Rick Baker took part in turning on hundreds of small LED lights that now adorn the park's trees. The lighting is meant to signify the rebirth of the gathering spot.

"Williams Park has served an important role throughout St. Petersburg's history," said Baker. "We are now seeing a renewed attention being given to once again make Williams Park a community gathering place."

But unlike the Wednesday Midday Market, which has been replaced by a free art market called Wednesday at Williams, the Last Friday concert series has been a relative success.

The concerts will continue to be free to park visitors who choose not to upgrade to the cushioned comforts of the VIP lounge. A Feb. 27 performance will feature a Mardi Gras theme, coinciding with the city's annual Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival, which will take place a few weeks later in March.

Taking the stage will be Gumbo Boogie, a Bradenton Zydeco band that has played in St. Petersburg before. Plans are under way to hand out beads, just like at the New Orleans event, and serve gumbo and other Creole dishes.

Lilly said that last month, when as many as 6,000 people showed up to hear the alternative rock band Hoobastank, $17,000 was raised for charity through beer sales.

The charities that benefited — Pinellas Hope, the Wunsch Family Foundation for children with cancer and chronic blood disorders, and the Abilities Foundation — understand that the concert series is about making downtown a destination.

During the concert series, visitors are encouraged to drop food items and clothing into a "Pinellas Hope Chest" that benefits residents of that shelter, and as many as a dozen residents are paid to help set up the event.

Lilly said each charity has agreed to put as much as 20 percent of donations in a rainy day fund that would cover future shortfalls.

Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or Lperez@sptimes.com.

Last Friday concerts in Williams Park reduce vendor, lounge fees 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Rays' Blake Snell erasing memories of his poor start

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — As Blake Snell strides up the mound at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night with an 10-game unbeaten streak, doesn't the miserable start to his sophomore season, when he was winless in eight starts and got demoted to Triple-A, seem like a long time ago?

    To him, too.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the fourth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. St. Petersburg youth baseball concession stand vandalized

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — The early-morning phone call warned Charles Castle, president of Burg Baseball, to "expect the worst.'' The organization's concession stand had been vandalized.

     Cliff Williams, Vice President of the Burg Baseball Inc., St. Petersburg, looks at a damaged and trashed concession stand at the Lakewood Baseball Complex, home of the Burg Baseball. According to Williams someone vandalized the concession stand either Saturday or Sunday. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  4. Tampa charter school teacher charged with firing handgun at ground

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa charter school teacher was arrested Sunday after she fired a gun into the ground during a dispute with her boyfriend, police said.

    Melody Patrice Bing, a teacher at the Village of Excellence Academy in Tampa, emerged from her home holding a weapon and dropped it when police confronted her at gunpoint. [Tampa Police Department]
  5. Tuesday's Nothing More concert moved from the State Theatre to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Nothing More was one of the highlights of April's 98 Rockfest, a thoroughly entertaining rock outfit with a larger-than-live stage presence.

    Nothing More performed at 98 Rockfest 2017 in Tampa.