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St. Petersburg's Color Run was fun, but covered art show and farmer's market with dust

ST. PETERSBURG — The Color Run on Saturday in downtown St. Petersburg was big, sloppy fun for participants.

But artists included in a juried show along Beach Drive NE said puffs of pink got on their paintings, textiles, sculptures and other works, creating a big, frustrating mess.

And at the Saturday Morning Market, held in the parking lot at Al Lang Field at First Avenue S and First Street SE, orange dust affected vendor tents, produce and other items.

The 5K charity run, which began and ended in Vinoy Park, drew an estimated 15,000 participants, according to Mike Jefferis, the city's parks and recreation superintendent.

Many wore white clothing. As they passed by pink, blue, yellow and orange color stations, volunteers sprayed them from plastic squirt bottles filled with fine, tinted cornstarch powder.

A morning breeze and humid conditions created several large, brightly hued clouds.

"Whatever it touched, it just stuck," Jefferis said.

The 90 exhibitors in the St. Petersburg Holiday Art Festival, which started Friday and ended Sunday, were set up on the north lawn of the Museum of Fine Arts, "probably one of the best locations in the country," said Carroll Swayze, an artist who was at the show.

"All of a sudden, this cloud started. It first blew kind of north. Then it blew right toward us," Swayze said. "I just ran over to my booth and shut it down."

Pink settled onto booths, glass, fiber art and handcrafted open-rope furniture. The walls of one artist's booth were saturated, she said.

"It was crazy," Swayze said. "Everything was pink."

Gail Eggeman, who manages the Saturday Morning Market, said she saw "a cloud of orange coming over us, which landed at first on the people with organic vegetables. The buffalo mozzarella got orange."

Automobiles, trailers and other vehicles also were covered with dust.

She and artists at the Beach Drive show held no grudges toward the race, but they criticized poor communication between some event organizers and city officials.

"I don't want to denigrate the Color Run," said Victoria Arendt, whose work includes an oil cityscapes series, Visions of St. Petersburg.

But she and Swayze said David Frutko, a gallery owner and promoter of the art show, should have been aware of the potential for conflict.

Swayze said the number of nearby portable toilets also was insufficient to accommodate the combined crowds, and nearby trash receptacles overflowed on Saturday. And Eggeman said vendors' businesses suffered because of unanticipated street closures.

"I've been an artist my entire life," Swayze said. "We have to deal with rain, we have to deal with a lot of things. But this was ridiculous."

Frutko echoed some of the artists' concerns and attributed the effects to poor coordination between city officials and representatives of the Color Run.

St. Petersburg City Council chairwoman Leslie Curran and Jefferis said evaluations occur after every event, and they will work to reduce problems.

"At this point, we're going to take a comprehensive look and try to figure out a way to coexist with other activities that go on along the St. Petersburg waterfront," Jefferis said.

He praised Color Run organizers, who contracted with a local pressure washer and cleaning company to remove cornstarch residue from cars, roadways and some boats.

"The planning was exceptionally well done," Jefferis said Tuesday afternoon. "I have not dealt with an organizer who has been this responsive. They still have been responsive even today."

St. Petersburg's Color Run was fun, but covered art show and farmer's market with dust 12/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:52pm]

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