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Florida Shell Shop Treasure Island (New)

Why You Should Visit The Florida Shell Shop on Treasure Island

If you’re vacationing on Treasure Island, The Florida Shell Shop should be on your to-do list.

The Florida Shell Shop is a real treasure. Sure, you can buy “shells” at the local grocery or drugstore, or even try to harvest your own (please don’t!). But if you do that you’ll miss experiencing a nostalgic slice of Florida that is still thriving today – The Florida Shell Shop.

Read on for our tips on experiencing this tidbit of authentic Florida


Move slowly so you can take it all in. See the colorful carryalls mid-photo? These are for the shells you’re almost certain to want to collect.

What Can You Find at The Florida Shell Shop?

  • Shell wind chimes
  • Big shells
  • Shell wall signs
  • Small shells
  • Shell coasters
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Tiny shells
  • Shell jewelry
  • Coral
  • Real buoys
  • Fake buoys
  • Huge shells
  • Stained glass shells
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Really tiny shells
  • Shell Christmas ornaments
  • Shell identification guides
  • Shell books
  • Shell stickers
  • Shell food (Ok, not really shell food, but Florida-related sauces, candies and other treats)
  • Shell Christmas trees

They might even have a copy of The Shell Seekers lying around if you look.

Why The Florida Shell Shop Matters

The Florida Shell Shop was established in 1955.  That’s a long time ago folks.  Before I was born and I’m OLD. It’s also a family-owned business.
We are huge supporters of local businesses and family-owned enterprises, so we like to point them out just in case you are too.

May St Petersburg Area Events Splashy

Recurring May Events

Gulfport: First Friday ArtWalk

St Pete: First Friday

St Pete: Second Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Third Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Tuesday Fresh Market

St Pete: Saturday Morning Market

Garden Art and Faerie Festival 

Imagine an enchanted village complete with faeries, sprites, gnomes, ogres and trolls.  

For one fun-filled day each spring, Gulfport is transformed into such an enchanted village.  

Carnival rides, live music, maypoles. face-painting, bubble blowing and pixie dusting will make it a day to remember.  Admission is free.

Clymer Park, Gulfport

May 2, 2020 10 am – 8 pm

April St Petersburg Area Events Splashy

April Recurring Events

Gulfport: First Friday ArtWalk

St Pete: First Friday

St Pete: Second Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Third Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Tuesday Fresh Market

St Pete: Saturday Morning Market

I’m afraid they’re going to get wet

St Anthony’s Triathlon

As I sit here nursing a foot energy, the thought if a Tri seems next to impossible.  

Perhaps you feel differently.  Or maybe you just want to show some support for those who are so ambitious.  At the very least you need to know where they’ll be and where the streets will be closed.

St Anthony Triathlon Maps

Clearwater’s Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival, Clearwater

Ten days spent celebrating sand.  Activities include The Giant Sandbox (shh, don’t tell my cats), the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit, sand sculpting classes, live music, fireworks., movies on the beach and more.

For the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit, eleven world-class sculptors create sand sculptures according to a changing annual theme.  The Walk is housed under a 21,000 square foot tent.

https://sugarsandfestival.com

Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival

Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival

This year’s event will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds on April 25th, 2020.

Now in its 15th year, this festival continues to preserve and enhance the cultural and historical legacy of Caribbean American heritage.

Events include exhibits, crafts, a street parade, a Steelpan Jamboree, top-name entertainment and vendors, a Jouvert morning experience, and high-stepping masquerade bands.  This might be the most colorful and lively festival the area has to offer and it is held in the beautiful month of April. I can’t think of a better reason to give it a go.

Green Thumb Festival

The Green Thumb Festival is St Petersburg’s annual Arbor Day celebration.

Plants, flowers and plant and flower lovers come together, along with individuals and families looking for a fund weekend activity.  

There will be more than 120 – yes one-hundred-and-twenty – plant and flower vendors and exhibitors. 

Held at Walter Fuller Park at 7891 26th Ave N on April 25th and 26th from 9 am to 4 pm

Check out the website here

Tampa Bay Blues Festival

A 3-day rite of passage for blues fans each spring.  Recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Best U.S. Blues Festival” in 2011, this event keeps people coming back year after year.  Unfortunately. this event is not pet-friendly. 

April 3, 4, and 5, 2020

Check out the history section of the website for a list of past performers. Held in Vinoy Park, downtown St Petersburg.

http://www.tampabaybluesfest.com

Mainsail Art Festival

Also held in Vinoy Park in downtown St Petersburg. Ranked one of the Top 20 Fine Art & Design Shows in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine.  2019 marked the 44th year of the festival.

April 18th and 19th, 2020

15th Annual Fun in the Sun Day

Family fun for everyone!  

April 11, 2020 from 10 am -12 pm at the Gulfport Recreation Center, 5730 Shore Blvd S)

Free festivities including an egg hunt, riding in a police boat, a fire truck an ambulance and more!

Where to Rent Baby Gear – Pack Less Play More – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

3 Simple Steps For All The Gear Your Baby Needs

We know traveling with your baby or toddler can be stressful! They crave their routines and traveling is anything but that!

Cribs, car seats, stollers, high chairs, booster seats, pack n plays, bouncers, booster seats – I could go on and on.

Even if your car would hold all these items or the airlines would let you check them all, do you really want to? 

Enter Pack Less Play More. This “easy button” business helps you order your baby equipment online, have it delivered to your vacation rental and they’ll pick it up after you leave.  Three simple steps:

  1. Choose
  2. Reserve
  3. Secure Checkout

Fun in the sun and surf

Cleaning and Sterlizing

Babies and toddlers are messy! One of the reason we refer our guests to this wonderful company is the care they take in cleaning and sterilizing their equipment after each use.  

Pack Less Play More cleans their rental items with  100% all-natural cleaning products.  You can read about how the clean cribs, strollers, car seats, toy boxes, high chairs, booster seats, and bouncers here.

The Process is Easy and Packages are Available

The process is easy – just click and reserve. Have it delivered before you arrive.  

Packages are available too, with fun names like the “Everything is Covered Package” or the “Biggest Bang Package“.

A few baby-oriented beach items are available too. Sand toys, Kidco Go-Pods. and Beach Baby Cabana & Sunshades.

March St Petersburg Area Events Splashy

March Recurring Events

Gulfport: First Friday ArtWalk

St Pete: First Friday

St Pete: Second Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Third Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Tuesday Fresh Market

St Pete: Saturday Morning Market

Spring Training

Sometimes it just doesn’t get much better than lounging about, watching professional ball players warm up for the season.
While Florida teams are a bit more spread out than in say, Phoenix, you can still catch some spring training in Tampa or Clearwater. Check out the schedule here.

IndyCar Racing Series Grand Prix of St Petersburg

The Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg will be March 13 through March 15th in 2020.

This IndyCar race has been held in St Petersburg since 2009. And a recently renewed agreement means the race will be returning to the area for the next 5 years as well.

If you’re an IndyCar fan, the significance of the season opener needs no explanation for you. If you’ve never been to Grand Prix before, St Petersburg is a great place to get your feet wet.

Check out the website here and plan your adventure now.

Florida Strawberry Festival

Pop one in your mouth. Or maybe a few dozen

Did you know about Florida’s love affair with the strawberry? No, not the orange. (Or any citrus, really.) The strawberry! The first time I visited the Florida Strawberry Festival I thought it might be somewhat unique. It’s not. There are strawberry festivals all over the United States and even some in Canada, Australia, Italy and Japan. You can find a website with links to worldwide strawberry festivals here.

But we’re talking about the Florida Strawberry Festival, held in (where else?) Plant City, Florida in late February and early March. 11 days in all.

The website is https://flstrawberryfestival.com. You van find out about rides & attractions, musical talent and visit the livestock show. Visit the website and signup for updates via email including 2020 dates!

Gulfport Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes

Gulfport’s tour of eclectic homes returns on March 7, 2020.

This year’s event will focus on the east side of the historic downtown.

Tickets can be purchased online at visitgulfportflorida.com or at Gulfport Beach Bazaar on Beach Blvd.  Facebook page here.

 

Run for the sake of cupcakes in Pass-A-Grille, will ya already?

Race for the Cupcake

March is all about races here, and this event is no different.
OK, well it is different in that it involves you moving at high speed. Ok just moving, maybe not a high speed. And not in an IndyCar or a boat.
So before you head out to the Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes, head out to Hurley Park at 1501 Gulf Way in St Pete Beach for the 2020 Race for the Cupcake.
Proceeds from this event benefit Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a non-profit program that encourages girls to develop self-respect, to be joyful and confident, and to live a healthy lifestyle through interactive lessons, running games, and a culminating celebratory 5k run.
Sounds worthwhile to me! Plus you get a cupcake! You can find the website here.

Cuban Sandwich Festival

If you’ve ever had a REALLY good cuban sandwich, the finding out that a Cuban Sandwich Festival exists is probably just a big dull “duh” to you. Am I right or am I right?
Ever since I fell in love with the idea of a Cuban sandwich after Jon Favreau’s “Chef” in 2014, Cuban sandwiches are on my short list of favorite foods to try at new eating establishments.
(If you must know the other items on the list are crab cakes, fish spread, flan, lobster bisque and tortilla soup.)
Now this is just a guess, but I have a hunch that a great place to sample some really tasty cuban sandwiches just might be at a Cuban sandwich festival. Just sayin’ I have the inside scoop on this.
The 2020 Tampa area event is on Sunday, March 29th at Centennial Park in Historic Ybor City at 1800 E. 8th Avenue in Tampa.
The event is an international competition that attracts cooks from all over the world.

Maybe not quite this small

2020 Florida Suncoast Tiny Homes Festival

Oh, the irony that the 2020 Florida Suncoast Tiny Home Festival needs a larger venue.

I should just stop there.

Anyway…The 2020 event will be held March 28 and 29th in England Brothers Park in Pinellas Park and will feature more than 30 tiny structures.

If you’ve been binge-watching Tiny House Nation, then this is for you. Where else can you try on so many small structures, even if just to assure yourself that your McMansion is perfect for you?

Still, as the owner of a 330 SF “tiny home”, I’m intrigued.

Website here: tinyhomestpete.com

Gulfport Grand Prix

It’s fair to say that this event is not without controversy in our sleepy little community. Because during this event the area is anything but sleepy.
Still, for 3 days at the end of March, this boat show and boat race is happening and Boca Ciega Bay is a rather unique area to experience an event like this.
Visit the event’s website for the schedule maps, and other helpful information.
And one thing is guaranteed – you’ve never seen Gulfport like this!
GrandprixGulfport.com

Reggae Rise Up Music Festival

It’s hard to think of better music for a festival than reggae.

And it’s even more difficult to think of a better location and time of year for any music festival than Vinoy Park in St Petersburg in March.

2020 Dates are March 20-22.

Visit the website at reggaeriseupflorida.com for festival info, including the lineup, tickets, what you can bring in and what you can’t and even how to get involved.

Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival

When an event is in its 46th year, I think it is safe to say it has been a success.
The 46th Annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival takes place March 14 and 15th in beautiful Craig Park. This park is ocated between Spring and Whitcomb Bayous.
Tarpon Springs was voted best Historic Small Town for 2018 by USA Today. Tarpon Springs is home to the Sponge Docks, brick streets, Victorian mansions and intimate bungalows.
The arts festival is juried, so you won’t find any mass-produced items here.

VIP Lounge & Mexican Restaurant – Treasure Island

Popular Gem Tucked Away

If you are new to the area, here’s what you need to know about VIP:

  • The food and atmosphere are addicting (watch out, waistline)
  • It has a cult-like following (do they put something in the food so I can’t stop?)
  • They don’t take reservations or call ahead orders (who wants to wait, right?)
  • It’s a TI landmark that is hard to find at night (maybe you shouldn’t be driving at night?)
  • VIP has an insane number of “regular” patrons (will there be any room for little ole’ me?)
  • Parking may be tricky. Free parking impossible really.  (I thought the best things in life were free?)
  • It’s small so best for smaller groups (But I want to go with all my Facebook friends?)

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Why You Should Go

However, if these things sound like reasons not to go, think again:

  • Tomorrow is always a great day to start a diet.
  • Yeah, they do put stuff in the food. Spices.  Peppers. Cheese. Tortillas.  It’s a restaurant, not a grocery store.
  • If you don’t want to wait go in the afternoon! You are on vacation so your day probably started late anyway.
  • I bet your Uber or Lyft driver can find it. Better yet, put the address in your GPS map app and then just stop your car in the middle of the road when she says you have arrived.  Take your time looking around while you hold up traffic. Its cool – everyone does it.
  • VIP is friendly but not clique-y. It isn’t high school all over.  You’ll be welcome.
  • Free parking? Even love isn’t free.  There are diamonds, Tinder subscriptions, diapers…
  • All 12 of your real Facebook friends will fit.  For those of you with thousands of Facebook friends, they’re probably already at VIP.  You don’t really know all those people anyway.

The chips are so good you don’t need the queso and guac, but get them anyway

Because VIP has been around since the 70’s, locals and visitors who have been coming here for years have grown with the restaurant. It’s a true Rapisardi family affair, and one that’s focused on making your experience here as memorable as possible.

Two words: The Three Amigos

The Food

So here’s one thing I always forget between visits to VIP: The food can be spicy.  Really spicy.  So much so that your beverage of choice will become your BFF.  And if that BFF involves a VIP margarita, you may need a “Lyft” or Uber home.  Even items that aren’t labeled spicy are spicy, so you know if they mark an item “Spicy” AND mark it “No Returns Please“, they mean it..

Can’t handle spice? Then ask your server about the menu item you’re considering or eat from the Gringo menu. Gringo food includes the mandatory chicken tenders loved by children everywhere, along with hot dogs and hamburgers.

VIP Enchiladas

Insider Tip: Better for small groups

It’s pretty small inside and very popular.  Even at off times you’ll have trouble seating a large party.

VIP Perfect Meal

I’ve heard the fajitas at VIP are phenomenal.  I’ve only smelled them, and always too late when I’ve already ordered. (If you’ve had them feel free to leave a comment below and tell us what you thought.) Having lived much of my life in Texas, I have a thing about fajitas.  The best place in Austin for fajitas used to be the Hyatt Regency on Town Lake. And it was THE place for runners to go post Cap 10K.  Then Pappasito’s arrived on the scene, with garlic butter poured over tender, sizzling fajitas.  That’s the bar VIP fajitas have to beat.

I’ve also heard folks get quite emotional talking about their Wet Burrito.  It’s actually the Tinga Chicken tacos that make me cry.

If you could only feel the heat this dish packs

The Parking

So more about parking.  Because let’s face it, you’re at the beach so parking is limited to begin with.  But then you put it in a tiny little center next to Ricky T’s Bar & Grille and Sweet’s n’ Treats ice cream shop, and put it right on Gulf Blvd where Central Avenue comes over and you can imagine the difficulties.

Paradise parking has a large lot located behind VIP, where Park Place dead ends at 106th Ave.  It’s paid parking but unless you have a parking fairy on  your shoulder this will be your only shot.

However, if you park back in this lot and walk in through the back entrance (through the patio section), you’ll likely see cars parked 3 deep.  Don’t be tempted, dear tourist.  This is not for you.  This is for those locals I mentioned earlier that frequent VIP so often that other frequent patrons know who’s car is whose and therefore who they can park behind and block in. I only wish I could drink margaritas and eat Mexican food so often that I could be a regular there.

Anyway, walking in through this entrance also means you will walk through the kitchen to get to the dining area.

Chips up!

Insider Tip: One small bathroom

So maybe go before you go, if you know what I mean.  And don’t wait until the last minute.  It’s all nice and friendly until a line forms for the potty.

One word: Mango.  Your reward for a life lived well.

The Details

VIP Mexican American Cuisine  – 10625 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, Florida  727-360-5062.  Enhance your visit to the VIP by visiting their website, Facebook page and Trip Advisor!

Visit the news page of the website to find out about special events (Cinco De Mayo is one) and daily specials.

Website

Facebook page

Trip Advisor

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach

Sugar And Soft Shaved Ice Fuse In Shivery, Sweet Awesomeness

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like shaved ice

Me neither. 

It just seems so indulgent. One, it’s sweet.  Two, it’s so cold.  Three, it’s so soft. Four, it just seems a little naughty.  (After all, didn’t your mother tell you not to eat snow? More than once?)

Well, hold on, because we’re about to take naughty to a whole new level.

It is a grave error to assume that shaved ice consumption requires hot weather.

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach is the purveyor of these delightful icy desserts they call Snoballs.    

Ever run out of syrup with a sno-cone? It’s just so sad! Hopeless even. That doesn’t happen with Snoballs. With finer ice than that found in Sno-cones, there’s no fighting between the syrup and the ice.  Ice and syrup are one.

Spike It!

You adults know what I’m talking about.  Add a little warmth to counteract all that coldness.

You can find Pina Colada, Margarita. Bahama Mama (my favorite) and more.  Or just add a shot to any flavor. Or two. Or three to any Snoball. Terry likes to go big on the Bahama Mana.

Have Fun Choosing

Add Some More Sugar!

Flavored syrups made with real sugar not enough carbs for you? It’s OK, we get it.

Then how about you add ice cream.  Yes, to your shaved ice.

Still not hitting the sugar receptors on all cylinders? You can add that food of the gods, Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Or Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sauce or Whipped Cream.  

Experiment!

Ready for adventure?  No training wheels for you. You can build it yourself.  You pick a size, decide whether or not you want to add ice cream, choose up to three flavors and then select your toppings.

Do you find 60 flavor choices and over 25,000 combinations a bit, err, overwhelming after a simple day at the beach? Not to worry.

You can let someone else do the heavy-lifting and try one of the Signature or Specialty snoballs.  These include such creations as Salted Caramel Deluxe, German Chocolate and a Tangerine Dream.

The menu includes little icons to let you know which combos are their best sellers.

Pure and simple Bahama Mama! Watch the video and keep an eye on the spoon in the video below

Locally owned by just the nicest people (a mother daughter team), you won’t be disappointed.  Unless they’re closed.

Visit them at 7350 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach. Weekdays from 2 pm to 10 pm and weekends from noon to 10 pm.

Note to you old-timers.  Beach Snoballs used to be located on Treasure Island where Middle Grounds Cafe is.

Where to Buy Fresh Seafood – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

When Freshness Really Counts

As any chef or good cook will tell you, one of the keys to cooking success is to start with the freshest ingredients.

And I think there’s nowhere where that’s more important than fresh seafood..

We’ve all taken that stroll through a supermarket reeking of questionable seafood products and bleach, only to find our appetite and enthusiasm taking a dip. Or nosedive.  No pun intended.

Well worry not, we’ve got you covered! Read on for how to buy fresh fish and where to buy it in the Gulfport, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach and St Petersburg area.

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Mary Oliver

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Step 1: Go to a local and reputable seafood shop.  See the next section “Where to Buy” below.

Step 2: Ask what the freshest fish is or what the catch of the day is.

Step 3: If you decided to buy anything other than what they tell you is freshest or the catch of the day, make sure what you’re buying isn’t “previously frozen”.

Step 4: Make sure the flesh is firm and shiny.  It should provide resistance when touched. Don’t go poking it with your uncovered finger, however. I saw one source that said the fish should look as if it might jump up and swim away. If only, the fish is thinking. If only…

Step 5: Sniff it. Yes it’s ok.  Fish isn’t supposed to smell fishy. It should smell fresh.

Step 6: If the poor creature still has its head intact, check the eyes.  They should be clear, not cloudy.  (You know, so he can see better…)

Step 7: Gills if present should be bright pink and wet. No slimeyness.  Ever.

Step 8: For fillets or steaks, make sure the meat doesn’t separate from itself.  If it does it isn’t fresh.

Step 9: If the fish still has its skin, make sure the skin is not discolored.  No brown or yellow edges. Mostly this means even, consistent coloring.

Line ’em up

Where to Buy #1 – Key West Shrimp Company

We get it.  You’re not in Key West.  And no, I don’t know why. But I do know that the entire business is a family affair, with their own boats and own stores.  One shop is located in St Pete Beach and the other in Madeira Beach.

“Most of our fish was swimming less than 24 hours ago.” Says it right on the website. You’d have to fish for it yourself to get it any fresher.  Like them on Facebook to find out what their specials and fresh catches are.

Read about their dedication to sustainability here.  And check out products available in their online store here.  (Fish Spread fans will find some things to love here!)  You can even ship some home if you’d like.

10 am to 6 pm every day.  St Pete Beach location is 7217 Gulf Blvd Ste 13 (727) 873-3913.  Madeira Beach location is 215 150th Ave. (727) 592-1885

Perfect Salmon

Where to Buy #2 – Mid-Peninsula Seafood

Both a restaurant and a full-service fish market.   Looking for something special? Call them! They just may be able to deliver.

Not sure which fish to buy? Visit their Fish School for tips on cooking and information on origin.

Mid Peninsula Seafood’s restaurant is one of my faves. Soups, sandwiches, dinners and big orders to feed a gang.  Fish Spread is available and something you don’t see just anywhere – hushpuppies! They call them Cornpuppies!

Find the full menu of prepared foods here.

Follow them on Facebook.

They’re gone fishing on Sundays.  Just keep that in mind.  Open Monday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm.  400 49th St S, St Petersburg, FL 33707

Insider Tip: The Seafood Watch App

Download the app for your phone.  Sustainability at your fingertips!

Where to Buy #3 – Gulf Coast Seafood

Gulfport has two outstanding places to buy seafood.  “Fresh From the Boat“.

Gulf Coast Seafood began by providing products to stores, resorts and restaurants over a large part of Florida.  In response to repeated requests over the years, they are now selling to the public with their own retail shop!

Fresh fish in display cases.  Frozen products are vacuum packed). Head on over and catch tonight’s dinner.

Follow them on Facebook.

4921 9th Ave S, Gulfport (727) 321-1068   Open from 10 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. 10 am to 4 pm Saturday

Chances are they have what you fancy

Where to Buy #4 – Don’s Dock & Wild Seafood Market

Don’s Dock has a wonderful fish market in addition to provide bait, ice and other gear you need to go fishing.

You can call 727-391-3223 for the Catch of the Day, see where your sustainably-caught seafood is coming from “Track Your Fish” and more.

Sauce and seasonings available too.  Online seafood market coming soon.

Check out the photo gallery for sample wares.  Those babies look ready to go home with you.

Don’s Dock Wild Seafood Market is located at 215 Boardwalk Place E, Madeira Beach, Fl. (727) 391-3223

Insider Tip: Sustainable Seafood?

View the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guide here.

Recipe Suggestion: Perfect Salmon

Note: This cooking technique can be used on other varieties of fish too.  Just use your seasoning of choice!

Ingredients

  • Salmon filets, not steaks
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Maple Syrup

Spray or rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom or skin-side of the fish.  Massage soy sauce into the top of the fish.  Place the fish skin side down on a small metal tray.  (Sizzle platters are perfect for this.) Pour a modest amount (approximately 1 T) of maple syrup over the top of the fish and spread it around.

Place the salmon in a COLD oven.   Now turn the oven on to 400 degrees and set a timer for 25 minutes. Your fish will be moist and flaky and the soy sauce maple syrup on top provides a slight crunch.

Enjoy!

Perfect every time

Disposing of Fish Parts – How to be a Good Neighbor!

No matter how fresh that fish is when you get it, eventually it won’t be.  If you have leftovers (or leftover “parts”), please don’t just toss them (bagged or not) in the trash can and let them marinate until trash day. Please help keep the trash cans clean and smelling the best they can by refrigerating your excess in a plastic bag and tossing out the morning of trash pickup.

Insider Tip:

Visit Allrecipes.com

For an amazing assortment of delicious seafood recipes

February St Petersburg Area Events Splashy

February Recurring Events

Gulfport: First Friday ArtWalk

St Pete: First Friday

St Pete: Second Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Third Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Tuesday Fresh Market

St Pete: Saturday Morning Market

Gulfport’s Get Rescued, Gulfport

Continuing into its 16th year, this event is one of the largest animal rescue events in the state.  All profits benefit participating non-profit rescue groups.  From 10 am to 6 pm Gulfport’s historic waterfront district is overtaken by these organizations to raise awareness and find homes for pets.

Learn about pet health, see training demos, find a new friend and participate in the pet parade with your beloved companion.  The event is free and parking is available in the area.

The 2020 event is on Saturday, February 22nd in the Historic Gulfport Waterfront District.

The event’s website is here.

St Pete Beach Seafood & Music Festival

Fresh and local ingredients means the St Pete Beach Seafood & Music Festival should be on your list

2019 marks the second year for this new event.  Held on Corey Avenue in St Pete Beach Feb 1-3, 2019.

Expect a laid-back vibe with live music, shopping marketplace and tasty foods.  This food won’t be your normal craft-fair food.  Instead it will be food cooked onsite using fresh ingredients and seafood dishes from Florida  coastal waters.

Hours, directions, parking information and a list and schedule of musical performers can be found on the event’s website.

2Cool Art Show – Gulfport

February 1-2, 2020 at the Gulfport Casino at 5500 Shore Blvd.  The 2Cool Art Show is hosted by the Professional Association of Visual Artists.

Thirty-five juried artists will participate in 2019, showing and selling a variety of hand crafted visual and functional works in paint, wood, ceramics, photography, metal, glass, mixed media and jewelry.  Admission and parking are free!

There’s a sister event to this show in July, for summer visitors – the Cool Art Show.

Check out the 2nd annual Peace. Love and Pride festival

Gulfport Peace, Love & Pride Festival – 2020

2019 was the inaugural year for this event celebrating Gulfport’s commitment to diversity.  2020’s event will take place on February 16, 2020 from noon to 5 pm in and around the Gulfport Casino.

You can read more about the inspiration for this new event here.

Gulfport has two juried art festivals during the month of February!

4th Annual Gulfport Fine Arts Festival

Formerly know as the Gulfport Masters, this festival takes place in Veteran’s Park at 5350 31st Ave S in Gulfport.

The event takes place February 8-9 in 2020 from 10 am to 5 pm both days.  It is also a juried event.  If you don’t know what a juried event is, it means that artists have to apply and their works are determined to be found worthy of entry by a panel of judges.  The process of reviewing the submissions is intended to raise the quality of the show and help the event stand out from the sometimes busy field of art and craft shows.

Visit the events Facebook page for a short video about this year’s event and a preview of a few artists participating this year.

Florida Strawberry Festival

Did you know about Florida’s love affair with the strawberry? No, not the orange. (Or any citrus, really.)  The strawberry!  The first time I visited the Florida Strawberry Festival I thought it might be somewhat unique.  It’s not.  There are strawberry festivals all over the United States and even some in Canada, Australia, Italy and Japan. You can find a website with links to worldwide strawberry festivals here.

But we’re talking about the Florida Strawberry Festival, held in (where else?) Plant City, Florida in late February and early March.  11 days in all.

The website is https://flstrawberryfestival.com.  You van find out about rides & attractions, musical talent and visit the livestock show.  Visit the website and signup for updates via email including 2020 dates!.

Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival

I don’t know about you, but for me blues festivals always seem to come with hot & steamy weather.  In Summer.

Summer can be a four-letter word in the South. So how about a blues festival in February, and in Florida. Seems hard to pass up. 2020’s event takes place Feb 21-23.

I suggest liking them on Facebook to get updates on the festival.

Cupid’s Undie Run 5K

A bunch of strangers in their underwear.

Running. What could be better than that? I’m sure everyone will look like a model.  Not.   But hey at least you’re not doing the run in Minnesota. Or Philadelphia.  Or Chicago.

But in all seriousness, the proceeds go towards the search for a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic tumor disorder that affects 1 in every 3,000 births.  They run in their undies because those affected with NF can’t cover up their tumors to feel more comfortable, so why should we?

The 2020 St Pete run is Feb 8.  Find out more here.

Yum!

St Pete French Fry Festival

So what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say St Petersburg?

French fries?

I didn’t think so.

Still, there must be something to it, because this festival goes for 2 days.  This isn’t Fred and a few buddies getting together to celebrate pomme frites.  I think of chocolate for Valentines Day.  The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association thought potatoes were more fitting.  Go figure.

Straub Park, downtown St Pete.  Find info on their Facebook page here.  And send some pictures, will ya? Feb 14 and 15, 2020

St Petersburg Super Greek Festival

Lots of towns have Greek festivals, but St Pete has a Super Greek festival.  I’ll be there, doing my super greek version of Rick James’ “Super Freak”.

While just sampling a wide assortment of Greek food should be enough incentive by itself, at the Super Greek festival you can also shop, watch traditional Greek dance performances and send the kids on some amusement rides.

The 2020 dates are Feb 21- Feb 23 at St Stefanos Greek Church, located at 3600 76th St N in St Petersburg.  Check out the facebook page here.

Florida Food & Brews Festival

Feb 1, 2020 England Brothers Park, 5010 81st Ave N, Pinellas Park.  (Rain date Feb 8)

Enjoy fantastic food. Sample some of the areas best craft brewers. Support local rescues. Be entertained.  What more could you want?  Find them on Facebook

St Petersburg Fine Art Festival

The 7th Annual St Petersburg Fine Art Festival showcases original artwork by more than 100 artisans from throughout Florida and across the United States.  It really is a don’t miss event, and given that the event spans 2 days you really have no excuse not to go.  Dates in 2020 are February 22-23. Location South Straub Park, St Petersburg.

Night Market St Pete

For night owls, vampires or just those who are otherwise not afraid of the dark, there is the Night Market.  It’s located in the St Pete Warehouse District next to 3 Daughters Brewing and its held sort of whenever they feel like it.  The next one is February 27th, 2020.  And about 2 weeks after that, so mid-March, they’ll let you know when the next one will be.  So I suggest following them on Facebook or something so you can stay in the know.  

Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Treasure Island Florida

 

“Birth of Venus”

I was really blown away by the artistry, skill and creativity of the contestants.

To begin with, each sculpture has a designated plot and the installations are huge.  Sand is delivered on pallets (yes, pallets) so these folk are not out there with their $2 plastic buckets from the local beach store.

Beautiful weather for 2018

So for my first year my friend Rita and I only went on the next to last day, which is the day judging takes place.

This was a mistake.

If you have time it really makes sense to attend on the first and second days as well.  The finished products are sensational.  They’re thought-provoking, puzzling and sometimes appear to defy the laws of gravity.  And what would have made it even more special would have been to see how they were built.

Sculptors and Sculptures

2018 saw record-breaking attendance and the amazing group of sculptures and their impressive work is why.

Although I do not know the precise judging criteria of this specific event, typically the judges in sand sculpting event consider such things as:

  • How well the plot space was used – is there a lot of empty space
  • Did they use all the sand provided?
  • Is it a clever idea or a fresh approach to a subject
  • How difficult was it? Consideration of the use of cut-throughs, height, overhangs
  • Faithfulness to any theme
  • Execution

Keep scrolling to view many photos from this year’s event!

“Freedom” by Jonathan “Jobi” Bouchard of Canada

The 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner – “Freedom”.

Freedom” is one where I would have loved to hear the artist’s explanation of his work.

While I don’t understand the message, the sheer scale of the face and the multiple carve-outs and arches may help explain why this sculpture won First Place and also won the People’s Choice award this year.

Jobi Bouchard had previously won first place at this competition FIVE times!

“Internal Universe” by Aleksei Rybak of Russia

Sunshine Beach is on the north end, running from just south of John’s Pass for about seven blocks to 120th Ave. With fewer hotels and more residential areas, this stretch of Treasure Island is laid-back and loved by locals.

Aleksei Rybak takes a moment.

Aleksei is a graduate of the Moscow Art College of Applied Art.

insider tip: judging

Sculptures are evaluated on things like originality, technical difficulty, faithfulness to a theme, execution and use of space

“Birth of Venus” by Sue McGrew of Washington

I enjoyed “Birth of Venus” immensely.  The overall shape and the lovely curving tentacles were delightful.

Artist Sue McGrew working on her sculpture’s finishes

Note some of the tools on the bench in the foreground.  Small shovels, brushes and sprayers.

A sculpture within a sculpture

I’m not clear if this was the front or back.  But either way both are beautiful.

Sculptor Sue McGrew works in sand, ice and snow.  She has won a number of competitions.

“Fusion” by JOOheng Tan of Singapore

I can’t say that I fully appreciated “Fusion” at first viewing.  It seemed so simple relative to many of the others. But the more I looked the more I saw.  And I began to appreciate just how tall it was and how difficult it must be to stack that much sand in such a narrow tower.

And then to carve out the delicate shapes in that thin strip of an opening?  Our next photo has a close-up of the inside.

A sand odyssey anyone?

insider tip: JoBI Bouchard

Jobi Bouchard of Canada, and the 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner, has won this event six times.

JOOheng is from Singapore.  His work has been showcased in over 60 cities across more than 20 countries around the world.

Worth visiting is this link to a story about three 18-ton sand sculptures JOOheng was asked to make as part of an advertising campaign encouraging kids to get dirty.  The campaign was called “Dirt is Good“.  The link contains photos and a video showing the creation and behind-the-scenes execution.

Amazing!

Inside the monolith.  This can’t have been easy.

“Chagrin” by Carl Jara of Ohio

So much emotion conveyed here

insider tip: single or double?

Some sand sculpting competitions feature teams of sculptors, in addition to works by individuals.

The ledge was in place and the hollow part carved out so Carl had a place to stand to work on the top.

“Bobby Fisher” by Jakob “Kuba” Zimacek of Czech Republic

The subtitle of this entry is “the chess legend who broke all the patterns“.

Jakob has been sculpting since 2003 when he got his start on the beaches of southern Spain.  Since then he has won several prizes in international competitions.

“Bobby Fisher” – the chess legend who broke all the patterns

Jakob putting finishing touches to his piece.  Note the tanks filled with water and it looks like some sand?

The chessboard was one of the last components added, bringing it all together

“Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman of Canada

“Circular Argument” was one of my personal favorites.  It was fun to walk around and around trying to find a shot that would capture all 3 faces as well as the toilet and interior of the installation.

I cam sort of close, in the 4th photo below, but I should have moved a little further to the right.  In my defense I was fighting sun rather high in the sky and people.  Lots of them.

Sculptor Abe Waterman looks like he is enjoying himself

I bet these two couldn’t lose each other in a crowd if they wanted to. The face on the left agrees.

I’m no sand sculptor, but as with JOOheng Tan’s sculpture, making these tall vertical pieces must be tricky.  I would guess the sand has to be just the right amount of “compactness” – I admit I’m making that term up – and moistness to stay up like this?

Note the detail in the eyes and the catchlights of the pupils

Each face has its own unique expression. I guess this conversation is going down the toilet?

Abe making final touches with his repurposed pest control spraying tank.  Who knew?

“Whether Greek or Roman” by Rachel Stubbs of England

He (or she?) seems content to watch the crowds

Children posing for a photo op

I see dinner

insider tip: The weekend before Thanksgiving

The dates of this event vary from year to year but it is always held then weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany of Ireland

At first glance “Rodan Remixed” seemed like one of the smaller installations. But that was really because it was so compact.  Move a little closer and you began to appreciate the scale and the amount of sand all in this one block.

I was not there for the artist’s explanation of his piece, but my understanding is that three figures are represented.

Loving the sense of energy

Fergus Mulvany chatting with a couple of attendees on judging day

Imagine these shadows and textures later in the day

insider tip: 2018 videos on facebook

Click here to go to the Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Facebook page and view videos of the projects in the works along with the awards ceremony!

“To Be or Not To Be” by Jan Selen of Netherlands

Jan Selen’s piece is another one where I would loved to have heard the artist’s interpretation of their work.  However, even without that, I loved it.  The man with the snail being my favorite.

Jan Selen making some final touches

One figure is looking at the phone in his hand and the other at the snail in his hand

The full installation

One of my favorite elements

The universal “I’m looking at my phone” face

2018 Winners

  • First Place – “Freedom” by Jobi Bouchard
  • Second Place – “Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman
  • Third Place – “Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany
  • Sculptor’s Choice – a TIE between “Fusion” by JOOheng Tan and “Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman
  • People’s Choice – “Freedom” by Jobi Bouchard

Other Things to Do at This Event

In addition to the sculptures there are vendors selling arts, crafts, clothing, gift items and food.

Many of these vendors I had not seen at other shows, so they’re worth a visit all by themselves.

Photographing the Event

Besides going multiple days so that you can use your photos to tell a story, another thing you can do is to go earlier or later in the day. Generally speaking, photographing in the middle of the day (say between 10 and 2) is going to result in harsher light and less interesting shadows.

If you go earlier in the day or later in the day, the shadows on the sculptures will be softer and more interesting, depending on your position relative to the sculpture and the rising or setting sun. And an added bonus is that there may be fewer people.

By all means bring along your iphone for some video, but if you have a smaller camera with interchangeable lenses, you can worry less about the crowds. You can zoom in on some of the individual components.

Don’t be afraid to work your way around each installation, noting changes in the appearance.

Pamela Moore

 

” That’s the hell of sand castles.  They are always doomed.  That’s part of their beauty – their impermanence.”

Leave a comment below and tell us what you love about this event if you attended!

Next event: Nov 18th – 22nd, 20202018 marked my first trip to this event and it’s really difficult to overhype it.  I’ve never been to anything like this and so I didn’t know what to expect.

I knew it was invitation-only, so this isn’t Ward, June, Wally and the Beaver playing at the beach.  This is well-known and well-respected sculptors from around the world, spending 4 days of their lives in the elements and vying for a significant prize.

“Birth of Venus”

I was really blown away by the artistry, skill and creativity of the contestants.

To begin with, each sculpture has a designated plot and the installations are huge. Sand is delivered on pallets (yes, pallets) so these folk are not out there with their $2 plastic buckets from the local beach store.

Beautiful weather at this time of year

So for my first year my friend Rita and I only went on the next to last day, which is the day judging takes place.

This was a mistake.

If you have time it really makes sense to attend on the first and second days as well. The finished products are sensational. They’re thought-provoking, puzzling and sometimes appear to defy the laws of gravity. And what would have made it even more special would have been to see how they were built.

Sculptors and Sculptures

2018 saw record-breaking attendance and the amazing group of sculptures and their impressive work is why.

Although I do not know the precise judging criteria of this specific event, typically the judges in sand sculpting event consider such things as:

  • How well the plot space was used – is there a lot of empty space
  • Did they use all the sand provided?
  • Is it a clever idea or a fresh approach to a subject
  • How difficult was it
  • Consideration of the use of cut-throughs, height, overhangs
  • Faithfulness to any theme
  • Execution

Keep scrolling to view many photos from this year’s event!

2018 Winner: “Freedom” by Jonathan “Jobi” Bouchard of Canada

Freedom” is one where I would have loved to hear the artist’s explanation of his work.

While I don’t understand the message, the sheer scale of the face and the multiple carve-outs and arches may help explain why this sculpture won First Place and also won the People’s Choice award this year.

Jobi Bouchard had previously won first place at this competition FIVE times

“Internal Universe” by Aleksei Rybak of Russia

Sunshine Beach is on the north end, running from just south of John’s Pass for about seven blocks to 120th Ave. With fewer hotels and more residential areas, this stretch of Treasure Island is laid-back and loved by locals.

Aleksei Rybak takes a moment. He is a graduate of the Moscow Art College of Applied Art.

Insider Tip: Judging

Sculptures are evaluated on things like originality, technical difficulty, faithfulness to a theme, execution and use of space

“Birth of Venus” by Sue McGrew of Washington

I enjoyed “Birth of Venus” immensely. The overall shape and the lovely curving tentacles were delightful.

Artist Sue McGrew working on her sculpture’s finishes

Note some of the tools on the bench in the foreground. Small shovels, brushes and sprayers.

A sculpture within a sculpture

I’m not clear if this was the front or back. But either way both are beautiful.

Sculptor Sue McGrew works in sand, ice and snow. She has won a number of competitions.

“Fusion” by JOOheng Tan of Singapore

I can’t say that I fully appreciated “Fusion” at first viewing. It seemed so simple relative to many of the others. But the more I looked the more I saw. And I began to appreciate just how tall it was and how difficult it must be to stack that much sand in such a narrow tower.
And then to carve out the delicate shapes in that thin strip of an opening? Our next photo has a close-up of the inside.

A sand odyssey anyone?

Insider Tip: JoBI Bouchard

Jobi Bouchard of Canada, and the 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner, has won this event six times.

JOOheng is from Singapore. His work has been showcased in over 60 cities across more than 20 countries around the world.

Worth visiting is this link to a story about three 18-ton sand sculptures JOOheng was asked to make as part of an advertising campaign encouraging kids to get dirty. The campaign was called “Dirt is Good“. The link contains photos and a video showing the creation and behind-the-scenes execution.

Amazing!

Inside the monolith. This can’t have been easy.

“Chagrin” by Carl Jara of Ohio

So much emotion conveyed here

Insider Tip: Single or double?

Some sand sculpting competitions feature teams of sculptors, in addition to works by individuals.

The ledge was in place and the hollow part carved out so Carl had a place to stand to work on the top.

“Bobby Fisher” by Jakob “Kuba” Zimacek of Czech Republic

The subtitle of this entry is “the chess legend who broke all the patterns“.

Jakob has been sculpting since 2003 when he got his start on the beaches of southern Spain. Since then he has won several prizes in international competitions.

“Bobby Fisher” – the chess legend who broke all the patterns

Jakob putting finishing touches to his piece. Note the tanks filled with water and it looks like some sand?

The chessboard was one of the last components added, bringing it all together

“Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman of Canada

“Circular Argument” was one of my personal favorites. It was fun to walk around and around trying to find a shot that would capture all 3 faces as well as the toilet and interior of the installation.

I cam sort of close, in the 4th photo below, but I should have moved a little further to the right. In my defense I was fighting sun rather high in the sky and people. Lots of them.

Sculptor Abe Waterman looks like he is enjoying himself

I bet these two couldn’t lose each other in a crowd if they wanted to. The face on the left agrees.

I’m no sand sculptor, but as with JOOheng Tan’s sculpture, making these tall vertical pieces must be tricky. I would guess the sand has to be just the right amount of “compactness” – I admit I’m making that term up – and moistness to stay up like this?

Note the detail in the eyes and the catchlights of the pupils

Each face has its own unique expression. I guess this conversation is going down the toilet?

Abe making final touches with his repurposed pest control spraying tank. Who knew?

“Whether Greek or Roman” by Rachel Stubbs of England

He (or she?) seems content to watch the crowds

Children posing for a photo op

I see dinner

Insider Tip: The weekend before Thanksgiving

The dates of this event vary from year to year but it is always held then weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany of Ireland

At first glance “Rodan Remixed” seemed like one of the smaller installations. But that was really because it was so compact. Move a little closer and you began to appreciate the scale and the amount of sand all in this one block.

I was not there for the artist’s explanation of his piece, but my understanding is that three figures are represented.

oving the sense of energy

Fergus Mulvany chatting with a couple of attendees on judging day

Imagine these shadows and textures later in the day

Insider Tip: Videos on facebook

Click here to go to the Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Facebook page and view videos of the projects in the works along with the awards ceremony!

“To Be or Not To Be” by Jan Selen of Netherlands

Jan Selen’s piece is another one where I would loved to have heard the artist’s interpretation of their work. However, even without that, I loved it. The man with the snail being my favorite.

Jan Selen making some final touches

One figure is looking at the phone in his hand and the other at the snail in his hand

The full installation

One of my favorite elements

The universal “I’m looking at my phone” face

Other Things to Do at This Event

In addition to the sculptures there are vendors selling arts, crafts, clothing, gift items and food.

Many of these vendors I had not seen at other shows, so they’re worth a visit all by themselves.

Photographing the Event

Besides going multiple days so that you can use your photos to tell a story, another thing you can do is to go earlier or later in the day. Generally speaking, photographing in the middle of the day (say between 10 and 2) is going to result in harsher light and less interesting shadows.

If you go earlier in the day or later in the day, the shadows on the sculptures will be softer and more interesting, depending on your position relative to the sculpture and the rising or setting sun. And an added bonus is that there may be fewer people.

By all means bring along your iphone for some video, but if you have a smaller camera with interchangeable lenses, you can worry less about the crowds. You can zoom in on some of the individual components.

Don’t be afraid to work your way around each installation, noting changes in the appearance.

” That’s the hell of sand castles. They are always doomed. That’s part of their beauty – their impermanence.”

Pamela Moore

Leave a comment below and tell us what you love about this event if you attended!