Pensacola hosts the Gulf Coast Culture Fest art, film, food celebration

The second annual Gulf Coast Culture Festival returns this year for a day of art, music, dance, film, food and unity.

The two-part free festival will be split into two events on Saturday. Culture Fest will feature live entertainment, vendors and food trucks from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Seville Square in downtown Pensacola. The second part of the event, a short film festival featuring productions from the Gulf Coast, will begin at 8 p.m. at Bartram Park.

The Gulf Coast Culture Fest was founded by Calvin Griffin who, alongside his production company FORC3 Studios LLC, saw the community come together after the death of George Floyd in 2020 and wanted to strengthen that unity on the Gulf Coast.

COVID-19 prevented him from having the festival in 2020, but when he launched it in 2021, it drew around 800 attendees.

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PHOTOS from last year’s event:Live music, food and vendors at the first Gulf Coast Culture Fest

Visitors check out vendors during the Gulf Coast Culture Fest in Seville Square in May 2021. The event returns on Saturday.

“The Gulf Coast Culture Fest is a festival celebrating diversity and inclusion,” Griffin said. “It’s a festival that celebrates all of us together and it was a great sight to see.”

Griffin wanted the event to capture the unity he saw in the community over the summer of 2020 and celebrate the diversity and cultures of the Gulf Coast. He framed the festival around the arts to celebrate local artists and creatives.

“I’m a creative person, so art, for me, is a way of self-expression, and through art, people from different backgrounds and different cultures are really able to understand each other,” said said Griffin.

SARAAB dancers perform during the Gulf Coast Culture Fest in Seville Square in May 2021.

The festival will have over 40 vendors and approximately 10 food stalls collectively selling a variety of items ranging from dog treats, essential oils, jewelry and more. There will be a diverse range of entertainment, including Pensacola Poetry, belly dancers, Okinawan dance groups, mariachi performers and Korean fan dances.

To end the evening, the #FilmsForTheCulture Film Scramble will take place at 8 p.m. at Bartram Park. The event, presented by the Gulf Coast Short Film Fest, will feature short films from local filmmakers spanning genres from comedy to horror.

“The goal of showcasing the arts was to provide an experience for everyone,” Griffin said. “We really wanted a diverse group of lineups so people could come from different cultures and share their experiences through their arts, whether it’s music, dance, song or poetry or visual arts. I just thought everyone who attends can come and share this experience and soak up this experience.”

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