St. Petersburg International Folk Festival to dominate downtown this weekend

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The 40th annual St. Petersburg International Folk Festival kicks off in Vinoy Park this weekend. More than 35 countries will be represented on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The event features food, music and other entertainment from nations all around the world. In addition to gorging on various ethnic delicacies, festival-goers can also shop for trinkets from multiple nations.

Parking downtown for the festival could be a bit of a nightmare. Parking restrictions will be in effect on Fifth Ave. North near Bayshore, both sides of Bayshore from Fifth Ave. North to Seventh Avenue Northand the east side of North Shore Drive from Seventh Avenue North to the North Shore pool entrance. Those restrictions will be in place Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Vehicles with Residential Parking Permits are not exempt if found in violation of special event parking restrictions. Residents are being asked to observe posted signage and find alternate parking.

Second Avenue NE will be closed through Bayshore Drive as well as Seventh Avenue NE to Bayshore and North Shore Drive. Fifth Avenue NE will be closed to Bayshore as well.

The usual looper trolley will be available for transportation to the event.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email