High Season Brings Events and Fun to Gulfport

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It’s officially high season in Gulfport, my favorite time of year. Gulfport is a whirlwind of fun just about any time of year, but I love to witness my small town of only 12,000 residents come together as a community to produce several large non-stop events each spring. Houses, pets, art, rainbows, and fairies are all on the agenda this spring, entertaining both visitor and resident alike.

Gulfport is an artisan community and art was the focus in February with two major art shows – the 2Cool Art Show held inside at the historic Casino ballroom and the Gulfport Fine Arts Festival held outdoors in Veterans Park. The 8th annual 2Cool Art show was held during the First weekend in February. This delightful
show featured 35 artists representing visual and functional works made from wood, ceramics, photography, metal, glass, mixed media, and jewelry. The thing I like best about this show is that while the work quality is exceptional, the show is held in an intimate venue, allowing guests time to admire pieces and chat with artists.

The 4th annual Gulfport Fine Arts Festival was held the following weekend, on February 9 and 10. The festival featured 37 artists this year with an emphasis on people from Gulfport. Five artists from as far away as New Mexico, North Dakota and Maine were also represented. The event was sponsored by the Professional Association of Visual Artists, the Gulfport Merchants Chamber and the City of Gulfport.

On the same day as the Fine Arts Festival, and right up the street, was the first ever Peace, Love and Pride celebration held at the Casino ballroom. The celebration was put on by ProSisters / ProSistersRadio and co-sponsored by the city. The day-time event highlighted Gulfport’s large LGBTQ population (an estimated 30% of residents) and the impact the LBGTQ community has on Gulfport’s community development and city government. The Peace, Love, and Pride Celebration hosted 47 vendors and featured live music outside, unifying the town in a big gay (and straight) dance party on the beach.

In late February, we shifted our focus from art to pets. One thing is certain – we gay folks love our critters. One of my favorite events of the year is Get Rescued. During this event, the town of Gulfport blocks off Beach Boulevard and showcase as many rescue organizations as possible. My puppy, Joy, and I love this event. She is quite the performer and loves her role as “belle of the ball” in a crowd like that!

On March 2nd, it was time to show off Gulfport’s eclectic mix of homes. The 14th annual Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes was a huge success with a total of 830 tickets sold. According to event co-chair Caron Schwartz, the tour featured twelve properties all located west of Beach Boulevard and south of Gulfport Boulevard. Since this year’s selection of homes bordered Boca Ciega Bay, the theme was “Sashay by the Seaside.” The tour also included two condos in Town Shores. The highlight of the event, for me, was the “tiny home” parked outside the registration area. The Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes is a fundraiser for the Gulfport Merchants Chamber and organized and run by a team of volunteers, myself included.

And still to come is one of my favorite events of the year – The Springfest Garden Party  on April 27 and 28. There’s something about dressing up in costumes that make Gulfportians crazy, especially when the costumes includes a little fairy dust. Held in Clymer Park the fairy festival best resembles a mystical Renaissance Faire. Many attendees dress in costume. I’ve been Oberon, King of the Fairies, and last year I donned all white (shoes, gloves, and jacket) and went as the “white wizard.” I still use my wizard’s staff from time to time.

Yes, our town loves to host events for Gulfport’s residents and visitors, which means we need you to come back for more to keep them successful. I hope to see you in town for the next one.

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Written by Greg Stemm

Greg is a 35 year resident of Pinellas County with the past 18 living in Gulfport. He’s worked in festival management, economic development, meeting marketing, training and for an educational division of Apple Computer. He had his own marketing and PR firm throughout the 1990s before becoming the Executive Director of the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce. Today he focuses on freelance writing and as a leading social activist.

Greg is a founding board member of St. Pete Pride and prior 2005 Chairman. He currently serves on the Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center committee and on Pinellas County’s LGBTQ Marketing Group. He is a 26-year survivor of HIV and often writes about his experiences. He is also an EPIC volunteer.

He is single, but the true love of his life is his year old Chiweenie puppy named Joy.

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