Local businesses hoping to rebound at Localtopia festival in St. Petersburg this weekend

Posted at 7:24 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 16:57:05-05

ST. PETERSBURG — Localtopia in St. Petersburg is an event many people look forward to every year.

To date, event organizers say it’s the biggest celebration of all things local.

“Basically the biggest festival showcasing what makes St. Pete a wonderful place to live, work, and play,” said Olga Bof, Founder & Executive Director of Keep St. Petersburg Local.

Bof tells us last year, they had the biggest Localtopia ever with more than 30,000 people who stopped by and nearly 300 vendors.

“This year obviously it won’t be the biggest Localtopia we’ve ever done but what we’re seeing is it’s the most important one because the vendors who are participating on Saturday really need those sales that day if we want to see them actually stay in business and make it to the next festival,” said Bof.

Kahwa Coffee is one of the vendors participating in Localtopia on Saturday. They say Localtopia is the shot in the arm their business needs.

“We have a really good product that people taste it one time and they’re sold. So this is really good for us to get our name out there a little bit more," said Sarah Noren, Kahwa Coffee Events Manager.

Bof says this will be the first event under the city’s new executive order requiring COVID-19 mitigation efforts and safety protocols for events.

“What that order requires us to do is enclose the whole footprint of the festival. We have to have set entrances. At those entrances we will have folks who will be not only be checking for the masks but will actually be taking everybody’s temperature,” said Bof.

Some other COVID-19 safety protocols at Localtopia include:

  • People can only take their masks off if they’re in the designated food or drink area, actively eating or drinking
  • There will be workers walking around making sure everyone is social distancing
  • There will be digital screens with these rules and every vendor will have signs
  • Vendors will have their temperature taken before entering

At this year’s event, there will be 170 vendors and many of them are local makers who’ve had some of the toughest times this past year because they rely on events like markets and festivals for their livelihood.

“They have been reaching out saying please don’t cancel this event, we need this event and that responsibility on somebody’s shoulders is huge,” said Bof.

Noren is grateful it wasn't canceled.

“This is our busiest event of the year. So we’re very happy that we’re still able to do it and hopefully a lot of other vendors will see a profit from it as well,” she said.

Localtopia is Saturday, February 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Williams Park.