CLEARWATER — This weekend marks the third year that craft beer lovers, music aficionados, and foodies will gather for entertainment, friendship and the unofficial beginning of summer in Clearwater, but Cleveland Street merchants hope it represents the rebirth of downtown Clearwater.
But this year, the Clearwater Craft Beer Fest — set for Saturday, June 1 — has added even more punch to its already jam-packed event, suds worshiping organizers said. The Clearwater Downtown Partnership (CDP) is combining forces with Capitol Theater and the City of Clearwater to create a two-day block party filled with music, art, entertainment, great food, and of course the best local and national brands of beer around.
Starting on Friday night, May 31, the nationally known Capitol Theatre at 405 Cleveland St., will hold its Blast Friday event. “Once that event is over, it will be time for a quick change to the 500 and 600 Block to set up for the next morning’s start of the Craft Beer Fest,” said Eric Sullivan, chairman of the CDP. “The Clearwater Craft Beer Fest, which runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday will, in effect, be a block party like no other.”
Lina Teixeira, vice chairman of the CDP, owns Pour Yours on Cleveland Street and like other CDP members, Teixeira has invested time and money in businesses and events to revitalize Clearwater’s downtown. The revitalization effort centers on the 300-500 blocks of Cleveland Street.
The craft beer festival brought more than 10,000 people to downtown Clearwater in 2018 and this year’s event will bring even more people, she said.
“We will have some of the top food trucks and local restaurants, amazing musical and variety acts, art demonstrations, interactive games, and a selection of the some of the best craft beers made in the Tampa Bay area,” Teixeira said.
In addition to great beer and food, there will be a music stage featuring well-known area bands and musicians including Chris McCarty, The Rectifiers, and reggae band headliner Jahfari. The block party also will include an area dedicated to kids who want to try different kinds of art. Roving performers also will entertain and delight the crowd. Aerialists, henna art, face painting, balloon sculpture, caricatures, chalk art, and interactive games also are part of the mix.
Cleveland Street, anchored on one end by the Capital Theater, is coming to life with four new restaurants, thanks to a city program that shares the cost of starting the businesses. The Anchor Tenant Program, managed by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, offers loans and grants to businesses to help them build out kitchens, dining rooms, and bars. The business owners don’t have to pay them back for five years, in some cases.
In February, the CRA awarded grants to four locations, some of which are owned by CDP members: Pour Yours, Vector Bar & Arcade, Tequila’s Mexican Grill and Cantina, and Blackbrick Tavern. The street will do nothing but grow and draw more interesting people and events, business owners hope.
“The CDP’s goal is to provide people with a really interactive, immersive, and cool block party experience and introduce them to the vibrant downtown scene so they will visit again and again,” Sullivan said. “This year, the event also will feature a local charity. Julie Weintraub’s Hands Across the Bay will be holding a fundraiser by selling handbags and other items at the festival.”
The best part: admission and parking is free in downtown, including at the city parking garage on Garden Avenue, during the entire weekend.
For more information, visit www.clearwaterdowntownpartnership.com for more details.