Thanks to the pandemic, the 2020 Taste of Pride was the last in-person event held by St. Pete Pride.
When the annual event returns this month, it’ll be the first live event the nonprofit has hosted since.
Taste of Pride returns to St. Petersburg from March 12 - 14. This year’s event will take place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at over 20 local restaurants, bars and breweries.
It will be celebrated across businesses in the Grand Central District, St. Pete Pride’s birthplace. Participating eateries will sell a special $5 offering throughout the three days. Customers will be able to vote for the winner of Best Bite, Best Brew, and Best Cocktail.
“Part of our mission is to uplift and create visibility,” said St. Pete Pride president Nathan Bruemmer. “Taking it back to the neighborhood seemed like a great idea.”
Participating locations include: Avid Brew, Baba, Lolita’s, Sophia’s, the Saint, Casita Taqueria, If I Brewed The World, the Burg Bar & Grill, Punky’s, Pinellas Ale Works, Old Key West, Swingers, Urban Brew & BBQ, the Florribbean, Taphouse 61, Love Food Central, Vahalla Bakery, Craftsman House, Grand Central Brewhouse, Dog Bar, Pom Pom’s and Black Crow Coffee.
Taste of Pride will also follow CDC recommendations, including social distancing and mask-wearing. Each location will have an outdoor option for visitors.
“The thing with the Grand Central District that I love is the sidewalks are wide,” Bruemmer said. “I think we can safely support our business partners and spread some love.”
In past years, the fundraiser was held indoors at the Coliseum, he said. Restaurants and bars would bring in a small sampling of something special to taste, and guests would vote on the best dish. Proceeds would be distributed as community grants to other nonprofits.
St. Pete Pride was not able to raise money for community grants last June due to the coronavirus. So this year, the nonprofit is inviting people to help local businesses directly during this year’s reimagined event. Proceeds will go directly to the participating businesses.
St. Pete Pride will announce details about future 2021 events, including the 19th annual St. Pete Pride Parade and Festival, later this month. Known as the southeast’s largest Pride parade, the event peaked in 2019 with 265,000 attendees and a $67 million total economic impact across the area. Canceling the 2020 parade was done to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but the organization also took a hit.
“There’s been a financial impact, of course, on us as a nonprofit, and then I think there’s been a secondary impact on the community. Because we haven’t had chances to come together to celebrate much,” Bruemmer said.
“Folks sometimes sort of question why pride organizations exist, which is beyond just parades and festivals. It’s around connecting community, creating support, and celebrating who we are. And feeling loved when, you know, a decade ago or two decades ago, we were in a very different circumstance.”