The Take Over: a hip hop youth festival in Sarasota

On Apr. 23, a balmy saturday before Easter, Sarasota citizens flocked to the Take Over at the Sarasota fairgrounds. The Take Over is a youth hip hop festival spear-headed by Shakira Refos and Ali Hackathorn — two Sarasota natives who decided to create an event catering to the youth of the area rather than its snowbirds and retirees.

Tickets for the Take Over cost $18 in advance, $22 at the door and were free to children under 12. The hip hop artists that performed included Trick Daddy, Chris Webby, Whole Weat Bread, Bootleg and Paint the Town Red. The proceeds from the festival benefitted the Suncoast Charities for Children.

The festival featured a plethora of activities including an Easter Egg Scavenger hunt, a Capoeira and Breakdance show, a skate park school, a mobile arcade, a petting zoo, a children’s movie house, a theatre playhouse, G.WIZ educational interactive exhibits and ZigZag Magazine’s Affordable Art Market — a market operated by Ringling Art students that sold hand crafted goods starting at $5. Items up for sale included button-nose felt animals, screen prints, t-shirts, wire sculptures and caricatures. A dozen or so enterprising Ringling Students sat in cluttered booths underneath the ZigZag tent marked: “Enter with parental discretion.”

Some Ringling Students reflected on the experience. “We haven’t really sold anything,” said Deanna Weber. “I’ve been talking to our friends who are around and the most anyone has sold was a sticker. It’s really disappointing.”

“Its so expensive to get in and nobody wants to spend money after spending $20 to get in,” said Matthew Decker.  “We had to pay $50 for a table and for all the materials.”

At two in the afternoon, a thin crowd of people were dispersed across the Fairgrounds. The booths and events at the Take Over seemed to be placed haphazardly about the grounds. Michael’s on East had a booth selling chicken and waffles and there was a shaved ice truck, a homemade popsicle cart, a booth selling pita sandwiches and tents vending Red Bull, Bacardi and beer. Impermanent walls designed to be “graffiti -eed”  upon were scattered about the grounds and the distinct rattle of spray-paint cans could be heard in the air.

A booth run by the Community Haven for Adults and Children with disabilities was positioned near one of the Graffiti stations. The Community Haven operates its own nursery where it trains adults and children with disabilities to take care of the flowers and sells the them to help offset its costs. The flowers and plants that were being sold in the booth started at $3. Development Assistant of the Community Haven Anny Barker Schefler said, “I wish there were more people here of course. But, this is the first year they’ve done it. I know they’ve done similar festivals elsewhere, especially in Norway. I don’t think it’s a bad turnout. I think a lot of people are going to come later on for some of the music and what not in the evening. It’s not horrible, everyone’s been very nice.”

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