1. Arts & Entertainment

Gasparilla Music Festival debuts March 10 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Fans of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and the Gasparilla International Film Festival now have another cultural event to look forward to: the Gasparilla Music Festival.

A group of music lovers and longtime residents have gotten together to create an all-day music event with a dozen local and national acts.

The festival is set for March 10 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and adjacent Kiley Gardens in downtown Tampa. Founders chose a date between the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts March 3-4 and the Gasparilla International Film Festival March 29-April 1.

"We're trying to create March as the month of the arts in Tampa,'' said David Cox, board president of the festival.

Organizers aren't announcing the lineup for a few weeks but promise an eclectic mix of music, from roots rocks to New Orleans brass funk. The event will have three stages, including the small amphitheater tucked along the Riverwalk, which will have acoustic acts. Tickets will be $15. Local vendors will sell food and beer.

The group started talking about it in 2010 and assembling supporters. Donors paid $1,000 each to join the Johnny Cash-inspired Ring of Fire, a founders' circle with VIP privileges. Volunteers are doing all the work.

Organizers hope the event becomes an annual tradition along the lines of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival or South by Southwest music fest in Austin, Texas, only smaller.

"If you look at it, Clearwater has the jazz fest. St. Pete has several music festivals at Vinoy Park. But outside of concerts at the Amphitheatre and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, we don't have an outdoor music festival that draws a lot of people,'' said Aydin Keskiner, a Gasparilla Music Festival board member.

Susan Thurston can be reached at