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This Halloween weekend, the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society (SPIFFS) holds their International Folk Fair at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg, just a hop, skip and a jump away from our campus. The society has been around since 1975 as the only independent multicultural organization in the United States and has recently taken to holding their annual festival at Vinoy Park around the beginning of November. The fair consists of a series of stands and tents, each representing a country—I counted 33 countries on their map for this year—and offering visitors a chance to learn more about the culture, try the cuisine and buy native souvenirs. All day long there is ethnic music, singing and dances onstage and around the middle of the day everyone gathers for a parade around the park. I got my first taste of the fair in 6th grade when my Spanish class paid a visit in the spring at Tropicana Field. I was so eager to get all the stamps for my “passport” and to see and try everything that I got lost for some time for the first half of the visit (a baseball field is much larger than it looks from up in the stands). Since then, the Folk Fair is without a doubt my personal favorite local event of the whole year. For the past three years I have volunteered for the fair as a vendor and to help set things up. Last year my brother and I marched with China in the parade as percussionists alongside their dragon.
The fair runs all weekend from October 31st to November 2nd. The first two days are for school field trips only, but the last day is open to the general public from 10am to 9pm. General admission is $10 per person—$6 if you’re a student—and kids under six are free. I would recommend bringing as much cash as you can; the food and merchandise are fairly priced, and there’s no way you’re going to be able to completely immerse yourself in the festival if you don’t at least try the food. My favorites are the ones from Asian countries, though they also offer dishes from the European, Latin, African and American palate.
If you’re interested in joining SPIFFS, to volunteer for the fair or if you simply have a question, you can reach their office at (727) 552-1896. You can also see their website at www.spiffs.org.
SPIFFS. www.spiffs.org. Image taken from here.