Explore Fairgrounds St. Pete
Take the neon sign of a mid-century roadside motel and toss it into a kaleidoscope. Add some unexplored wetlands and a U.F.O. or two, and you have Fairgrounds St. Pete.
Less of a gallery and more of an experience, this expansive space is a psychedelic exploration of Floridiana, from the absurd to the absolutely sublime. It’s located at The Factory, in the heart of St. Pete's Warehouse Arts District.
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What You'll Experience
The work of local and international artists is on display throughout this multi-room space. Each room and corridor has its own vision and aesthetic. The first thing you’ll see when you walk in is an intricate mural by renowned St. Pete artist Chad Mize (a.k.a. Chizzy).
Next, there’s the neon mermaid tail advertising the “Mermaid Star Motel” you’re about to step into. To your left is the “Sunnymooners Suite,” a replica of a motel room, open suitcases and all, with the TV still “on.”
To your right is the motel office – check in, then check out the vintage room keys. A massive room invites you to discover an unexplored Florida wilderness under a starry sky – you can spot the constellations through a telescope yourself. Crickets chirp and the elusive Florida panther is in the distance.
Whimsy takes over when you venture further: The Strawberry Room melds Strawberry Shortcake with Alice in Wonderland. Another room invites you marvel to a mermaid’s shell-encrusted vanity and at her glamorous accoutrements. Yet another room contains dioramas depicting local artists’ many takes on life in Florida – it’s like walking into a reptile house in a zoo, except that each glass encasement is its own Florida-inspired thought experiment.
The whole thing culminates with “Centcom,” a flying saucer-like structure you must see to believe. It’s highly interactive; visitors of every age will have a blast.
Plan to stay awhile when you visit. Fairgrounds is part of The Factory, a huge complex that houses the legendary Daddy Kool Records, a gift shop full of locally made goods, and an everchanging gallery space where there’s always something interesting to see.
Across the street is music venue Groovehaven, and not too far away, you’ll find Zen Glass, Charlie Parker Pottery, and Kozuba & Sons Distillery.
When to Go
Fairgrounds St. Pete is open Thursday through Sunday. Hours are noon to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.
You’ll find it’s less crowded during the week, though if you go early on Saturday or on Sunday, it's likely you'll have some space. But if you want to experience Fairgrounds St. Pete as part of the greater art scene, you’ll want to go on Saturday night – especially if it’s the second Saturday of the month, when the legendary St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWalk takes place. This is a good time to explore the Warehouse Arts District, and to meet some of the artists at The Factory.
Tickets & Parking
There's plenty of parking at Fairgrounds St. Pete. There’s also a lot across the street where you can find a parking spot if it’s busy. Bonus: It’s right off the Pinellas Trail, so you can easily bike from downtown St. Pete, the beaches, Clearwater or beyond.
Tickets can be purchased in advance, and range in price from $27 general admission to free for children under four.