Weekend celebration of food leaves the 'burg with good 'taste'

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Those attending Taste of Pinellas can get an early start to Cinco de Mayo tonight with fish tacos, coconut shrimp with tropical dipping sauce, gator burgers, grilled watermelon with fried goat cheese and many more a la carte dining options.  Freshly squeezed lemonade, root beer floats and liquid refreshments from the import and specialty beer garden will be on tap to quench the heartiest thirst, accompanied by live music from Big & Rich, Joe Nichols, Sheryl Crow, and the All-American Rejects and fireworks throughout the weekend.  For information, visit www.TasteofPinellas.com or www.allkids.org.

Taste of Pinellas is open from 5 to 10 p.m. today; from Noon to 10 p.m., tomorrow, including the free Kids’ Zone from Noon to 3 p.m.; and on Sunday from Noon to 7 p.m. Kids and their parents can enjoy face painting, a rock wall, meet Raymond and play interactive games from Great Explorations Children’s Museum for free from Noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. After 3 p.m., kids 12 and under remain free, but adults will need a ticket or show proof of advance purchase to stay inside the festival grounds.

Plenty of festival parking is available in the BayWalk or South Core parking garages; the Al Lang Stadium parking lot; or at The Mahaffey parking garage. During the festival, slightly higher event parking rates will apply. Attendees are encouraged to use these long-term parking options during the festival rather than park on-street to avoid receiving a ticket. Due to scheduled performances at The Mahaffey tonight, and on Saturday afternoon and evening, festival goers may choose to use one of the other suggested parking options.

Free Taste of Pinellas shuttles will run continuously every 10 minutes between Vinoy Park and from four convenient stops during the three-day festival of food. Festival goers may catch the shuttle from one of four convenient downtown shuttle stops, located at:

*the BayWalk parking garage on the east side of First St. S., just south of First Ave. N. near the Hampton Inn & Suites;
*The Mahaffey parking lot on the east side of First St. between Fourth and Fifth Aves. S;
*the Al Lang Stadium parking lot on the east side of First St. just south of First Ave. S;
*or near the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, on the south side of Fifth Ave. N.E., just west of Bayshore Blvd.

Today, shuttles will operate from 4 to 11 p.m.; on Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  A printable shuttle route map is available at www.StPeteTrolley.com/Events.html.

Taste of Pinellas tickets are available through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com or in person at The Mahaffey Box Office from noon to 6 p.m. through Sunday. Friday and Saturday tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show, while Sunday admission is $15 advance, $20 day of show. A three-day weekend pass costs $45.

Proceeds from the annual three-day family festival benefit All Children’s Hospital’s annual Telethon, www.allkids.org.

La Gran Fiesta! – St. Petersburg goes south of the border for Cinco de Mayo with two celebrations planned for Saturday at Red Mesa Cantina and Push Ultra Lounge. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., guests of Red Mesa Cantina will have full access to the alley north of Second Ave. S., east of Third St. for holiday festivities. Meanwhile, a Cinco de Mayo street party at Push Ultra Lounge will close Second Ave. S. between Second and Third Sts., from 10 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday, May 6. The event takes place between Noon and 11 p.m. Saturday. Off-duty officers will provide traffic control.

USF Food Trucks Rally! – Also on Saturday, University of South Florida St. Petersburg students cook up a unique way to mark the end of the school year and bring the hottest trend in the nation to downtown St. Petersburg. The public is invited to participate in the city’s first-ever food truck rally on the USFSP campus from 4 to 8 p.m. in Parking Lot 2. Free parking is available in the USFSP parking garage during the rally. On-street parking is also available at the daily metered rate.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.