A sea of people flooded Williams Park to seek out all things local.
They bought soaps, records and art. They ate empanadas, fried chicken and pizza from food trucks. They drank local beers, coffee and kombucha.
In its the fourth year, Localtopia expanded to well over 100 booths. On the crisp, bright Saturday, Feb 4., Victoria Hernandez, a sophomore environmental science and policy major perused the stands. She had heard about the event on Instagram.
“I figured I have enough time before work, I’ll come see it,” Hernandez said.
Chandler Hackbarth, an economics major, attended with Hernandez.
“I like all the local shops, we were just talking about how we want to stay in St. Pete after we graduate,” Hackbarth said.
The Urban Conga, a brightly painted trailer with a giant xylophone and ping pong table, was parked on Third Street N. Ryan Swanson, a USF alumnus from the architecture program, started the Conga three years ago.
“I was tired of seeing [my architectural designs] on a computer. I wanted to utilize it,” Swanson said.
He came up with The Urban Conga, where he designs and creates playful environments or interactive art installations, to promote social interaction.
Based in Tampa, Swanson has installations all over the Tampa Bay area and hopes to bring his work to St. Petersburg.
The Urban Conga is focused on playing because they say social and cultural differences don’t matter when kids are playing. They believe play is essential to human growth and important for kids to build relationships.
The Nomad Art Bus sat beside The Urban Conga, covered in paint from the hubcaps to the windows. It is a nonprofit that wants to create democratic access to art programs.
Carrie Boucher started the nonprofit in 2o14. She taught art at an elementary school and realized the only time the kids weren’t listening was when she told them to clean up.
“It was a recurring theme, they didn’t have enough time for art,” Boucher said.
So she began the art bus and it travels to places like school programs and shelters for at-risk youth and victims of domestic abuse.
Most of the operations take place on the bus, but sometimes Boucher teaches classes outside if there are enough students.
On Saturday, everyone was outside the bus, the only rule was to keep the brush and paint together. That was greatly accepted by the kids crowded around trying to leave their mark on the bus.
Facing First Avenue N., a halfpipe built by Them Skateboards was one of the most popular attractions throughout the celebration.
Them Skateboards is a local company started by Eric Carrico four years ago. He designed boards for another company but decided to cut out the middleman and just make them out of his house. Now, he has a skate crew that uses his boards and promotes his message.
“I want to keep skateboarding homegrown and more affordable,” he said. “I want all the groms (kids) to board. Drain swimming pools, go crazy.”
Carrico thought Them Skateboard’s first year at Localtopia was a success.
“It’s definitely the biggest market we’ve ever been to,” Carrico said. “It’s an awesome event for the community and we want to give kids the opportunity to board,” said Carrico.