Via St. Pete Catalyst

Lealman’s inaugural Honey & Arts Festival was a resounding success in 2023, bringing more than 3,000 visitors to the leafy and vibrant unincorporated area of northwest St. Petersburg.

The second annual festival takes place this Saturday (Feb. 10), and for co-producer Zelda O’Connell, the fact that several organizations came together, pooled their talents and resources and created the event, was itself an accomplishment to celebrate.

“All these people who had the same vision and mission were trying to get together, to get something done in Lealman that hasn’t been done before,” said O’Connell, Chief Operating Officer of the Florida Dream Center, a nonprofit community support organization based in Lealman.

The “Lealman Engagement Committee” was formed in 2022 by the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners as part of its Community Redevelopment Area Plan (CRA) for Lealman.

“A lot of people can put things on paper that say they’re collaborating on, but to actually put a committee together and things get done? For us, it was great.”

Saturday’s free, family-friendly festival (12-6 p.m.) will be held in Raymond H. Neri Park, a five-acre greenspace in the heart of the community. There will 74 arts and crafts vendors, food trucks (including beer and wine), live chainsaw art and other demonstrations, and continuous live music.

That takes care of the “Arts” part of the name. “Honey” is a reference to the beekeepers (apiculturists) who hive-tend in Lealman and surrounding areas. A dozen Pinellas County beekeepers were set up at the ’23 festival, selling locally-sourced honey and all manner of honey, and honeybee, products and ephemera.

“Most of them are returning this year,” O’Connell says. “And we have new ones.”

The kids’ area has been expanded this year to include face painting, interactive games and educational activities that highlight the importance of bees in our ecosystem.

A pair of trolleys will run continuously between the Lealman Exchange, 5175 45th Street N., and Neri Park. In addition, there will be steady back-and-forth stream of six-passenger golf carts. “Last year, we polled attendees as well as vendors,” explains O’Connell, “and we’re adjusting the floor plan a little to make it easier for older visitors to get around. Every year, we feel, we can make a change to make it a little better.”

Find all parking information at this link.

Organizers expect to welcome nearly twice the visitors to this year’s festival – now that the word is out that the Honey & Arts Festival is something special.

“When people used to talk about Lealman,” says O’Connell, “it was ‘downtrodden.’ It was a place where nobody really wanted to be.

“And to be able to see an event with a bunch of families, and even people from out of town who’d heard about it … it was nice to have people coming in to Lealman for a reason.”

The Florida Dream Center sponsors Honey & Arts along with Pinellas County, the Lealman Fire District, Pinellas County Housing Authority, the Lealman Community Association, Lealman Community District Services and the St. Petersburg Foundation, along with Exquisite Marketing & Events, Feeding Pinellas, and Lealman and Asian Neighborhood Family Center.

Visit the Honey & Arts Festival website for more information.

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