Sights, sounds of ’60s to reign over Tarpon during Hippie Fest

TARPON SPRINGS — A half-century removed, flower power still retains its allure.

The Tarpon Springs Merchants Association brings back its Hippie Fest and Food Truck Rally for its second year to downtown and the Sponge Docks 4–9 p.m. this Saturday.

“This was our biggest fundraiser for the Merchants Association last year,” said Rea Sieber, the group’s leader, adding that an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people attended last year’s inaugural Hippie Fest. “It should be fun, we’re all looking forward to it.”

The event combines a mix of food, music, cars and other attractions under the thematic umbrella of 1960s hippie flair. Just as important from an organizational aspect, Sieber said, is the joint involvement of the downtown and Sponge Docks.

“I was trying to unite the downtown and Sponge Docks merchants and do more citywide events,” she said of the motivation for creating Hippie Fest. “We’re trying to advertise Tarpon as much as we can to promote the city and of course our businesses. Anything we can do to get more people to come here.”

Both areas of the city will offer different primary attractions. Some 15 to 20 food trucks are planned to set up temporary shop in the downtown along Tarpon Avenue, and about 100 Volkswagen “Love Bugs” creates a focal point for the Sponge Docks.

The beer distributors working at both sites are also separate companies, providing a variety for guests scoping out the entire event.

Stages set up at both locations for live music will feature Ron and the Classics downtown and The Defendants headlining at the Sponge Docks.

Sieber said organizers plan to further help fest-goers travel between the downtown and Sponge Docks by providing a shuttle service. “I heard so many positive comments and there were so many people that did go to both areas.”

Helping get people to travel back and forth aligns with the aforementioned push to unite the city’s two primary destinations and their storefronts.

Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce President Sue Thomas said Hippie Fest is a perfect opportunity to promote that unity and the event’s second event should be better than the first.

“Word’s getting out and people are looking forward to it,” she said. “From how well it did last year and based on the phone calls we’re getting I think it’ll do really well this year.”

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