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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Crowd packs downtown park for Gasparilla Music Festival

TAMPA — The sounds of the Gasparilla Music Festival echoed throughout downtown Saturday.

Thousands of people converged on Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for an afternoon of sunshine, craft beer and live bands, all culminating in Saturday's headline act, The Flaming Lips, at 9 p.m.

“Every time I turn around somebody is smiling,” said Jamie Zinober, a member of the festival's board of directors.

This is the third year for the Gasparilla Music Festival, but the first year the acts have been spread out over two days, Zinober said.

The downtown park can accommodate 10,000 people, she said, and last year's event had about 9,700 attendees. Organizers this year hope to see the park at capacity both days. And by Saturday afternoon, the turnout was strong. People spread out on the grass, were seated on lawn chairs or lounged on picnic blankets. Children tossing footballs and doing cartwheels ran and weaved through the crowd.

“There's been no problems,” Zinober said. “People are having fun.”

The festival featured performances from about 40 bands, from Florida and out of state. A VIP tent was next to the stage by the waterfront, and a line of tents was set up to one side selling beer and food from local restaurants such as Ella's Folk Art Cafe, Holy Hog BBQ and Malio's Prime Steakhouse.

“Everything's local, and I like that about it,” said Kyle Willette, who was attending the festival for the first time.

Like many others, he came to see alternative rock band The Flaming Lips.

That band was what made Amanda Dogu of St. Petersburg decide to buy a ticket. But she and her friends came to enjoy the other performers, too, she said.

“They have a lot of good concert bands,” she said. “Some you've heard of and some you haven't.”

The festival will continue from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Headliner Trombone Shorty will take the stage at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased online for $30 at www.gasparillamusic festival.com.

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