November’s Folk n’ Fruit Fest will be Safety Harbor’s signature centennial event

Fruit and Folk Fest

The newly renamed Centennial Folk n’ Fruit Fest and Games, a two-day event featuring food, drink, games and music, will be Safety Harbor’s signature centennial event, thanks to a recent decision by the city commission to allocate $44,000 in funds to the November 18-19 festival. (Credit: Centennial Folk n’ Fruit Fest.)

After months of public comments, committee meetings and commission discussions, Safety Harbor officials have made a final decision on the city’s signature centennial event.

Following a recommendation from the Safety Harbor Centennial Committee, the five commissioners agreed to pump $44,200 of the allocated $50,000 budget into MOSH’s first annual Folk n’ Fruit Brew Fest, turning the November 18-19 event at the Waterfront Park into a weekend full of fun and games, food and beer, and a healthy dose of Safety Harbor history.

“We’re super excited and very pleased that we were given this opportunity,” MOSH founder Mercedes Locke told Safety Harbor Connect following the commission’s approval of the item on April 3.

“We had high hopes that the centennial committee would take into consideration that we already had an event in place that was designed to celebrate the city’s centennial, and the fact that we were willing to collaborate on the event with other nonprofits in town I believe made their decision easier.”

Mercedes Ofalt-2

MOSH chairperson Mercedes Ofalt (r).

Indeed, the framework for newly renamed Centennial Folk n’ Fruit Fest and Games was discussed last summer during MOSH meetings, as board members planned to resurrect the city’s defunct grapefruit festival, give it a modern twist (i.e. craft beer and updated music) and relaunch it during the centennial in 2017.

But sponsor and timing issues forced Locke to move the event from February to November in order to get everything sorted out.

“We couldn’t find a title sponsor in time to make the event what we wanted it to be,” she said.

“But we had a team in place planning everything, and it was always intended to be a free, Safety Harbor centennial event. It had centennial themes, folk inspired children’s craft tents. So that was going to be our theme anyway.”

The delay turned out to be fortuitous.

Now, thanks to the infusion of city cash, which represents a portion of the festival’s overall budget, and the agreement to partner with any local charity or organization that meets basic criteria, the event committee has been able to add more attractions and activities to what promises be a jam-packed and entertaining weekend.

Safety Harbor's Centennial Fruit n' Folk Fest and Games, the city's signature centennial event, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Waterfront Park and Marina.

Safety Harbor’s Centennial Folk n’ Fruit Fest and Games will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Waterfront Park.

“We are trying to make an entertaining signature event for the centennial, to get everyone involved and to get all the nonprofits involved in a way they see fit,” Locke said, noting the weekend is tentatively scheduled to feature a waterski show, food and home brew competitions, centennial games organized by Tampa Bay Bubble Ball Soccer’s Kim Ward, a tug of war across Old Tampa Bay versus Oldsmar officials, multiple concerts, a light show and more.

“We’ve budgeted well over what this money will cover, so this will help us assist with the cost and help attract additional sponsors and acts because we can say this our signature Safety Harbor centennial event.”

According to a proposal that was submitted to the centennial committee, the estimated budget for the festival is $65,000, with an estimated attendance of 10,000-15,000 and an estimated profit of $20,000.

As per the agreement, all proceeds will either be split evenly between the participating nonprofits or given back to the city, with the understanding the funds would be used for a community based project or item designed to commemorative the centennial.

“We’re hoping the city commission will allow us to have some autonomy as to how to disperse the funds,” Locke said, adding the deadline to submit applications is April 19, with an eye towards be presenting the findings to the commission on May 1.

In addition to the $44,200 allocated for the festival, the commission also agreed with the committee’s recommendation on how to spend the remaining $5,800:

  • Safety Harbor talent show ($400)
  • Centennial hats ($200)
  • Safety Harbor Centennial birthday party ($500) *to be used to enhance the June 3 Third Friday event
  • Centennial gala ($1,200)
  • Centennial dolphin project ($3,500)
Caryl Dennis as "Safety Harbor Grand Dame" Virginia Tucker. Credit: Caryl Dennis.

Caryl Dennis as “Safety Harbor Grand Dame” Virginia Tucker. Credit: Caryl Dennis.

While the committee’s recommendations incorporated a variety of groups, events and activities into the city’s centennial celebration, at least one resident who was an early proponent of a signature centennial event was disappointed with the final decision.

“I am extremely disheartened that the Centennial Committee did not value performing arts enough to fund the Centennial Talent Collective yet were willing to blow $10,000-$15,000 on 20 minutes of oohs and aahs for fireworks,” local business owner and historian Caryl Dennis said via email.

“Celebrating our centennial to me meant sharing our rich history throughout the entire year,” she added. “Apparently the majority of the Committee didn’t see it that way.”

According to centennial committee chair Nadine Nickeson, it was tough for the representatives to come to an agreement on every participatory request.

“The five representatives of the groups that you appointed had some spirited discussions,” Nickeson said on April 3. “We had several meetings and I think we allowed everyone to speak, generously.”

“And although we weren’t unanimous, we did reach a consensus. Some of us still had additional ideas, and we have put forth what we did agree on by consensus.”

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