If strolling Tampa Bay's waterfront feeling the Florida breeze and listening to live tunes sounds like a perfect weekend, steer toward Safety Harbor today as the Harbor Sounds Music Festival strums to life. The two-day event mixes music, art and children's activities against the blue-sky backdrop of the bay.
Along with vendors selling their wares, local restaurants will have booths serving up everything from barbecue to baklava, seafood, hot dogs, kettle corn and Italian ice.
Face painting and arts and crafts are free. There will be a nominal fee for fun on the inflatable bouncers, jumpers and rock wall.
Phinley, the Clearwater Threshers mascot, hand out prizes and meet fans today and Saturday. Last year, the event drew almost 14,000 people over two days.
Locals like Kelly Picot are the heart of the festival. During the day Picot is a bank executive, but for the festival she lets her hair down to play music with her brother, Rob Stewart, a Safety Harbor mail carrier. Fifteen years ago the two revived their band DNA — named for the sibling connection. The duo will add two members to play as a four-piece band Saturday.
"We're a family-oriented band, and I try to involve the kids in the music," said Picot, 47, a Clearwater High School graduate. "We usually play during the day, but this year we'll be closing the show."
Thirty craft vendors will sell Florida-themed decor, jewelry, hula hoops, spices, sauces, and unique items like purses and belts created from coconuts.
Musician TJ Weger plays the festival for a second year, bringing acoustic, lap steel and resonator guitars. He kicks off the festival solo today, then plays from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday in the band Gator Tooth.
"You can't beat the setting, the stage at the end of the marina, with the backdrop being Old Tampa Bay and the pier," Weger said. He and his wife moved to Safety Harbor from Wisconsin in 2001. "I have to keep pinching myself to remind me that we get to live here."