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Originally published Monday, May 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

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Ron Paul festival pitched before GOP convention

Supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul are negotiating to hold a three-day festival of music, entertainment and activism at the Florida State Fairgrounds immediately before the Republican National Convention.

Tampa Bay Times

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TAMPA — Supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul are negotiating to hold a three-day festival of music, entertainment and activism at the Florida State Fairgrounds immediately before the Republican National Convention.

Paul Festival 2012 would run from Aug. 24-26, ending the day before the convention begins.

Details like ticket prices and who would be on stage have not been announced, but the festival could draw 20,000 or more people a day, estimated Deborah Robinet, an organizer who lives near San Diego .

"Ron Paul supporters are very enthusiastic, and there's going to be a bunch of them in Tampa," said Robinet, one of five directors of the nonprofit group Liberty Unleashed, which was incorporated this month in Florida to make arrangements for the festival.

Robinet said she expects the variety to reflect a saying of the movement: "Diversity finds unity in the message of freedom."

"That's one of the things about Ron Paul," said Robinet, who helped organize a July 2008 march for Paul that attracted 15,000 in Washington, D.C. "He unites people from all over the political spectrum. "

The fair's 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre already has two concerts not related to the convention booked that weekend but that is not expected to be a problem. With 355 acres, the fairgrounds has room for both the festival and the concerts.

"It's not out of the ordinary to have two events going on the same day," fair spokesman Scott Merselis said.

Paul said earlier this month he was suspending active campaigning, but his followers have been working individual state GOP conventions to secure delegate positions at the national convention.

Still, festival organizing group Liberty Unleashed is separate from the campaign. "We're just nonpaid grass-roots activists who support Ron Paul's message of freedom," Robinet said. "We have nothing to do with the campaign."

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