Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SPIFFS relies on younger generation


For 22-year-old Stamatios "T.K." Kapous II, the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society has always held a special place in his family's life.

The organization that traces its beginnings to America's bicentennial was led by his late grandfather for a decade. His father also took an interest in the group whose members trace and celebrate their connection to communities around the world.

Now Kapous is joining a younger generation that is helping to revive the once-vibrant organization known simply as SPIFFS. With backing from St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church — known for its annual festivals — Kapous is leading an effort to rebuild the Greek presence in the organization that at one time represented more than 50 countries.

"About two years ago, I went in front of the church board, but there wasn't really a big support then. This time has been great," said Kapous, general manager of Café Gala at the Dalí Museum.

With young people like Kapous involved, SPIFFS is undergoing a resurgence, executive director Lotta Baumann said. And that bodes well for this weekend's annual international festival at Vinoy Park that will feature a Grand Parade of Nations, with participants from more than 30 countries, and the swearing in of new American citizens.

The event will also showcase food and entertainment from across the world, including American Indian drummers and dancers, pipers and polka. The Greek booth will include educational material as well as favorite foods such as gyros, baklava and rice pudding, Kapous said.

Many recent SPIFFS members are newer immigrants, said Baumann, who returned as executive director last August, after leaving a then-flailing organization more than a dozen years ago. Some of the new groups are from Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria and Hungary, Baumann said, adding that this year's event will also include representatives from countries such as Ethiopia, Cambodia, Japan and Serbia.

Many of the original groups dropped out because "the people were getting old and tired," she said. "Even my own Swedish Club is not participating anymore. It was always the same people doing the work. The Greeks were members from the beginning and they took a hiatus and now they are back. … Their board is also younger."

As a child, Kapous recalled, he had always been eager to attend the folk fair that had been so important to his grandfather, who was born in Greece.

"SPIFFS has meant a lot to me," the older Kapous said back in 1989. "Everybody came from someplace, you know, and it helps people remember the beautiful things their parents and grandparents brought to this country.

His grandson agrees: "There are still young people in the community that are willing to help and still proud of their heritage."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

if you go

SPIFFS international festival

St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, known as SPIFFS, festival, Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday and Friday (for schools only) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday for the public; adults, $10, students, $6, children under 6, free ; or (727) 552-1896.

SPIFFS relies on younger generation 10/30/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  2. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  4. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, they better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher they can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  5. Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep paying tech expert suspected of stealing House computers?


    The following is from the Miami Herald: