ST. PETERSBURG — The city’s largest celebration of all things local returns to Williams Park on Saturday. More than 250 independent businesses and community organizations are expected to participate in the 7th annual Localtopia festival.
Tampa Bay Times journalists will be there, too.
The annual festival is organized by Keep St. Petersburg Local, the city’s independent business alliance. It features local art, music, food and more.
Why are we going to be at Localtopia? The Times is locally owned by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Our stories, photos and videos are produced by local journalists, and every day the newspaper and website are assembled by local designers, editors and web producers. We’re excited to meet readers and answer your questions about our journalism.
We also have a few questions for you: What are the issues in your community that you care about most? And what would you like to see more of in the pages of the newspaper and on tampabay.com?
Here’s a schedule of when our journalists will be available at the Times booth.
All day: 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.
- Participate in our Florida Wonders series: Come tell us what questions you have about the Tampa Bay area or Florida. Your question could be answered in a future Times story. Need inspiration? Here’s a collection of past stories, answering questions including what happens when you flush the toilet, where your recycling actually goes and why the University of Tampa has minarets.
- Enter to win free beer for a year from Pinellas Ale Works.
- Buy locally designed postcards featuring vintage photos of Tampa Bay’s most iconic restaurants, from Bern’s Steak House to El Cap.
- Ever wonder how we select the stories for the front page of the newspaper? Chat with deputy editor for print Ellen Clarke, who picks the stories that go on 1A.
10 a.m. — Noon
- Business reporter Sara DiNatale covers retail, writing about everything from the latest Publix news to secondhand handbags. “Let’s chat local businesses and why all the organic grocery chains are closing,” she said.
- Pinellas education reporter Megan Reeves covers K-12 schools and the University of South Florida. “What’s going on at your kid’s school? Preschool through college, I want to hear about it."
- Features writer Christopher Spata focuses on the offbeat side of life, especially stories about people pursuing unusual goals and what drives them. Come tell him about the most interesting local person you know (or ask him what it was like to hang out with Dave Bautista). He’ll also be collecting questions for our Florida Wonders series.
- Food and lifestyle editor Michelle Stark is our expert on all things home cooking and top restaurants. Come dish with her about the local dining scene.
Noon — 2:30 p.m.
- Deputy investigations editor Kat McGrory exposed injuries and deaths at the heart unit of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “Let’s talk about the newspaper’s signature investigations — and any wrongdoing or corruption we should be looking into,” she said. “Our team works to expose official misdeeds and cases in which vulnerable people have been hurt.”
- Transportation reporter Caitlin Johnston helps readers get where they need to go. “Tell me about your commute," she said. "Let’s talk about why it can be so hard to get around Tampa Bay.”
- Digital reporter and producer Gabrielle Calise writes about everything from strip club history to roadside attractions. She’ll be around until 5 p.m. to collect your Florida Wonders questions and talk about local history and oddities.
- Editorial writer Elizabeth Djinis will be around until 5 p.m. to talk about how editorial boards work. “What local issues are you stumped by? What is the difference between opinion and news?”
- Arts writer Maggie Duffy and events editor Sharon Kennedy Wynne want to help you plan your weekend. Come chat with them about the latest theme park news or art exhibitions. They’ll also show you how to submit events to our news features team to be listed in our Things to Do Calendars.
2:30 p.m. — 5 p.m.
- Investigative reporter Rebecca Woolington wants to talk to you about issues in our community that you think deserve a deeper look.
- Business reporter Malena Carollo covers four beats: utilities, consumer issues, cybersecurity and insurance. “Have you had an issue with a business in Tampa Bay? Spotted a company taking advantage of consumers? I’d like to hear about it," she said.
- General assignment reporter Kavitha Surana covers a range of topics, from breaking news to immigration. She’s excited to hear your story tips.
- Lightning reporter Diana C. Nearhos is our expert on all things hockey in Tampa. “What do you want to know about the hockey team? I want to help you get closer to your favorite players.”
If you go: 7th Annual Localtopia
Where: Williams Park, 350 2nd Ave N
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rain date: Feb. 29
Admission: Free, but organizers are asking for $5 donations.
Online: For a map of booths, parking help or other information, check out: localtopia.keepsaintpetersburglocal.org