Pinellas Pepper Fest brings hot and spicy food show to St. Pete this weekend

Pinellas Pepper Fest brings hot and spicy food show to St. Pete this weekend

One of the bright spots to emerge from the last two years has been the breakaway trend of businesses, vendors and previously unaffiliated individuals collaborating on products and events. This weekend’s Pinellas Pepper Fest serves as a perfect example.

Now in its 15th year, Pinellas Pepper Fest has been a must-visit for over a decade, but this year’s promises to be better than ever. And that’s not just hyperbole from the host. Organizer Suzanne King has partnered with SIK Promotions, Intensity Academy, and market extraordinaire LocalShops1 to seriously make this weekend’s festival the biggest in its history with more than 100 local artisans, food trucks, vendors and hot sauce makers.

The hot and spicy food show is painfully delicious, big on flavor and cooked up to be one of the hottest events of the season. The festival takes place from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, April 9, and from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, April 10, at England Brothers Park, 5010 81st Ave N, Pinellas Park. Admission and parking are both free, and the festival is pet-friendly and family-friendly.

Expect great food, drinks and competitions at Pepper Fest

Pepper Fest is more than just a market – it’s a full festival experience featuring specialty exhibitors, live music, food trucks, beer and wine, a kids zone, and of course the traditional hot food eating contests. In addition to the best hot sauce competition and the jalapeno eating contest, Pepper Fest will showcase the Extreme Lolli Lick-A-Thon, where contenders are pitted against the hottest lollipop in the world.

More than 100 vendors will fill the park where visitors can browse and sample a smorgasbord of local hot sauces, salsas, coffees, honey and even plants and artwork. And don’t worry, there’s plenty to help cool off from those fiery sauces, with culinary artisans like Frio’s Gourmet Popsicles, Casey’s Lemonade, Churned Ice Cream, and The Cheesecake Lady, among many more.

When guests are ready for a full meal, stellar local food trucks will be on hand, including El Cochiloco, Tacos De Carne Estrada, We Roll Fattys, J & S Pineapple Xpress, Happybelly Taco’s & Grill, Thuy Café and From the Soul to the Sea, plus tons more.

Find more information and full schedule of events here.

LocalShops1 advocates for local businesses

Founded by Ester Venouziou in 2008, LocalShops1 has grown to become Tampa Bay’s No. 1 source for all things local. The company’s mission to provide advocacy, support and education to locally owned, independent businesses throughout the region has made it a go-to partner for event organizers throughout the area.

LocalShops1 grew out of a list Venouziou kept on a scrap piece of paper at home to help her parents find local shops and restaurants when they were visiting from New Jersey. She then started a group on Facebook, asking friends for suggestions to add to the list. Soon, LocalShops1 was born, and the grassroots organization took off. Thanks to the support of local businesses and community-minded shoppers, LocalShops1 is now Tampa Bay’s most active advocate for local businesses.

It was in the wake of covid that LocalShops1 – alongside so many other organizers in the area – discovered a pretty simple truth: things are better when done together. Venouziou began partnering with King on events, and they realized the power that came from collaboration.

“When there were fewer events, people started doing things together,” Venouziou explained. “We realized, ‘Hey, this is really cool, we should have been doing this all along.’”

Pinellas Pepper Fest will serve as yet another example of what a collaborative and community-minded effort can create, and it will be far from the last such event. Next month, be on the lookout for the St. Pete Spring Market along the Pinellas Trail. Taking place May 7, it’s a unique bike-and-pedestrian-friendly pop-up market experience with over 200 places to shop throughout the Warehouse Arts District and Deuces Live.

Learn more about LocalShops1 here.

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