Ybor City's Guavaween gets new promoters, new concept

Guavaween has seen declining attendance over the past few years.
Guavaween has seen declining attendance over the past few years.
Published June 20, 2014

YBOR CITY — Guavaween, one of the area's most famous and rowdiest parties, has new promoters who promise to revive and improve the flailing event.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce has selected Big City Events and to produce the decades-old Halloween party for the next three years.

Organizers plan to incorporate some of the party's signature elements — the Mama Guava Stumble Parade and costume contest — but keep it contained to one venue in Ybor for 6,000 to 8,000 people.

"We want to stick to what has been done but rethink it in terms of execution and logistics,'' said Ferdian Jap, a co-partner in Big City Events with Monica Varner.

"We want to make it the best Halloween party in town.''

Big City Events has a strong track record in Tampa, producing events such as the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, Spring Beer Fling, Bourbon & Brew Festival and Summer of Rum Festival, coming up Aug. 16 at the Cuban Club. Tampa-based 813Area is a digital media marketing company that works with Ybor bars and restaurants. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Organizers haven't finalized the concept or any details of the event but are soliciting ideas and input on Guavaween's Facebook page. Promoters will partner with merchants to offer drink specials and free entry to Guavaween ticket-holders after the party.

Once an event that drew more than 50,000 visitors, Guavaween has struggled with declining attendance as organizers tried to address safety concerns and complaints from business owners that it scared away customers.

Over the past several years, facing criticism that booze and beads made the event too raunchy, organizers got rid of motorized parade floats and then eliminated the parade entirely. They also stopped putting up fences around Seventh Avenue and charging admission.

Ticket prices haven't been set for this year's Guavaween on Oct. 25, but Jap said they will be affordable and in line with Big City's other events.