Organizers put Taste of Pinellas festival on hold for 2013

Published Nov. 17, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Citing smaller crowds and higher costs, organizers of the annual Taste of Pinellas food and entertainment festival have decided to put the event on hold in 2013.

The three-day event, which has been held for 26 years, helps raise funds to support All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. And while some performers draw capacity crowds, attendance has been down, Cindy Rose, All Children's vice president of marketing, said in a news release.

"Today, there are many more community events and entertainment venues competing for the public's time and money," Rose said. "We felt it was a good time to take a strategic look at all facets of the event to see if we can make it better for the future."

More than 40 food vendors participated in the three-day festival in May at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park. Restaurants, including BellaBrava, 400 Beach Drive Seafood and Parkshore Grill offered food samples, chef demonstrations and other family-friendly activities.

Taste is also known for music and entertainment acts, most recently Sheryl Crow, Ziggy Marley, and country duo Big & Rich.

While the festival has continued to attract sold-out crowds on some days, other days have seen a drop-off in attendance, said Ann Miller, spokeswoman for All Children's Hospital.

"In all honesty it's the changing landscape in terms of the options that are available in the community," Miller said. "And audiences change."

In the coming year, hospital officials will meet with community leaders and restaurant owners to figure out a way to develop a new event plan.

Organizers declined to refer to the decision as a "cancellation" of Taste of Pinellas. Rather, the event is being put on "hiatus," Miller said.

Yet, it remains unclear whether Taste will return.

"That's certainly our hope that it will be here for 2014," Miller said.