New Music Fest Draws Thousands to Celebrate Local Music and Mentorship

April 13, 2017 by JULIE GARISTO | MUSIC, VISUAL ARTS
Matt Burke and Danny Burke of Have Gun Will Travel. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla
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Safety Harbor’s all-day Primavera Music Festival drew thousands  to spread awareness of youth mentoring opportunities.

The sounds of acclaimed local bands, and lots of boisterous kids, filled the springtime breezes as the Primavera Music and Arts Festival took over Safety Habor’s Waterfront Park last Saturday. The inaugural fest took over the scenic patch of land at 110 Veterans Memorial Lane from 2 to 10 p.m., featuring four local/regional musical acts — Have Gun, Will Travel (pictured above), Black Honkeys, Soul Circus Cowboys and Ethan Parker — plus fireworks and Florida’s largest Easter egg drop to date.

Palm Harbor-based musician Ethan Parker founded the fest to spread awareness of his not-for-profit project to create opportunities for children and teens through music and mentoring.

Have Gun Will Travel. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla

His non-profit organization, Project Primavera — named after the Latin word for “spring” — strives for new beginnings by changing the lives of at-risk youth for the better by sending ambassadors — bands or artists — to connect them to kids in their community. Parker said his mission this spring is to recruit 200 mentors, and planned his big springtime event to bring in more support.

“Playing music is the type of career that’s all about yourself, very narcissistic,” Parker said. “My calling, my best shot at life, is how can I make an impact, invest in kids at a young age. It’s hard for many kids to break out and change their circumstances. I want to help bring about positive change.”

Though Primavera Fest was free, proceeds from premium/VIP tickets, food and drinks went to the organization.

“The event was amazing,” Parker said. “Nearly 12,000 people came out to experience the egg drop, food trucks, vendors, four great local bands and the fireworks show. We couldn’t be more proud of our cause and how our community came together to help make an impact in the lives of the kids of our community.”
A Tampa Bay Buccaneers pirate ship-themed bounce house, The Ultimate Petting Zone and other amusements kept the junior rockers busy. Food trucks included I Wanna Wok, Jimmy’s Slider Truck, The Cheesesteak Truck, Wood Fired Pizza and BBQ, Maggie on the Move and several others.
Rick Thompson, event coordinator for Project Primavera and the Executive Director of  Primavera Music and Arts Festival, said he was overwhelmed by the wave of families and friends coming to show their love and support.  “We always had high hopes,” he said, “but couldn’t have been happier or more pleased with how the festival turned out.  The 45,000 Easter egg drop was a huge success and was run flawlessly by Harborside Christian Church.  The bands gave incredible performances and really played their hearts out for the big crowds and also because they believe in our mission of mentorship.  The fireworks display was really well done and the perfect way to end a perfect day.”

Ethan Parker and His Band. Photo courtesy of Project Primavera.

“The only negative, if you can even call it that, is we ran out of beer,” Thompson added. “I am not sure I have ever seen that happen before. We couldn’t have done it without our volunteers and we had over 400 great people helping make our dream a reality. Our sponsors were also fantastic and everyone of them said it was a great event and they are excited for next year’s festival when we grow to a 2-day event.”

Aerial shot of the event. Photo by Rick Thompson.

In addition to educating and providing companionship to kids residing at the Pinellas Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, Primavera Project has bussed in another 30 kids from nearby neighborhoods to the ranch. Parker is also planning, this fall, to match mentors to Pinellas County Schools students at most risk of dropping out.

Thompson said that Project Primavera is  still getting the final number of mentors created and that organization volunteers succeeded in raising widespread awareness for mentoring needs in the Tampa area.
“More than  1,000 kids signed up in the Tampa area that are currently in need of a mentor,” he added, “and we took a big bite out of that number with this one event.”
For more information or to contribute, visit projectprimavera.org.

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