OLDSMAR — The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Second Friday was deemed a success by organizers, vendors and city officials, as the repealed coronavirus restrictions plus the curiosity for a first-time event combined to draw large crowds to the downtown district on Friday, July 9.

People began showing up before former mayor and current chamber official Doug Bevis cut the ribbon shortly after 6:00 p.m. for an event that was designed to not only bring visitors to town but to provide a glimpse of what the area could look like once the long-awaited Oldsmar Town Center development project is completed.

The event featured more than 40 vendors, live music and a VW car show. According to Bevis, the response to the State Street festival, which ran from Park Boulevard to Washington Avenue, was “better than expected. We had positive feedback from attendees and vendors. We had 42 vendors and we are already getting renewals for August and anticipate even more art and crafts and food vendors in August.”

Like any first-time event, Bevis said organizers would make some tweaks to the formula, including adding an ATM machine plus the aforementioned new vendors. “We think we will be over 60 vendors for August,” he said, noting “a few new vendors have already signed up today and it’s only Monday.”

Longtime local business owner Stephanie Frank said via email the inaugural event was a great way for merchants to reconnect with residents and visitors after the pandemic.

“As longtime residents and business owners in Oldsmar we always love supporting the events that the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and City of Oldsmar host,” wrote Frank, who along with her husband, David, own two tech companies in town as well as Stephanie’s newest venture, the Tampa Bay Posies Flower Truck. “The inaugural Oldsmar downtown Second Friday Street Festival was fantastic and we had a great time with both our classic VWs in attendance. The turnout was great and as a vendor we had such a great night selling flower stems, meeting new neighbors and reconnecting with friends from the community ... It was just a great night to be out in Oldsmar.”

Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel agreed.

“I thought this was a great turnout for a first-time event,” said Seidel, who recently announced his intention to run for reelection next March. “The UTBCC did a great job organizing this event in such a short time, and I’m excited to see the changes they make as Second Friday continues to grow into one of downtown Oldsmar’s signature events.”