The first-ever Slime Festival took place at Robarts Arena on Oct. 19.
Say the word "slime" and images of Katy Perry or Sandra Bullock being doused in green goo during Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards are sure to follow.
For years, the TV network geared to kids had a near-monopoly on the word, but in 2019 the word belongs to Instagram influencers and YouTubers. With more than 13 million hashtags on Instagram, slime has taken over the internet, and on Oct. 19, part of that craze -- in the form of 40 "slimers" -- oozed into Robarts Arena at the Sarasota Blowout Slime Festival.
Organized by Petra Ratner, Sarasota Film Festival director of operations, and with help from 11-year-old Bryn Famiglio, a Pine View student and founder of Pineapple Sweet Slimes, the event was a first for Sarasota.
Ratner agreed to take on the challenge after spending the summer running a film summer camp at which many of campers asked to create slime videos. She hopped on Instagram and began to track down big-name slime enthusiasts to invite them to the festival.
Similar to the popular toy Silly Putty, slime is somewhere between a liquid and a solid. It comes in different colors, textures and smells.
A basic slime recipe calls for white glue, saline solution, baking soda and food coloring but countless variations exist. Many slimers add borax, shaving cream, glitter and tiny toys.
Patrons of the slime festival seemed to all agree on two things: cloud slime is everyone's favorite and those who decided to make slime did so after watching countless hours of slime videos online.
The crowd-favorite cloud slime is made from white glue, liquid starch, water, instant snow and food coloring which gives it an extra fluffy texture.
One of slime's attractions is its reputation as a calming, anti-stress agent similar to a squishy stress ball. That's one of the many reasons Kristina Burmeister, 13, took a liking to slime.
"Sometimes when I come from school, and it's a bad day I just play with slime and it helps me (with) stressful relief," she said. "I like to stretch it and poke it."
After watching slime videos online, Burmeister decided to try her hand at creating slime under the name "Slime Mysteries." With just over 1,200 followers on Instagram, she's been working on creating her brand for the past two years. The Sarasota Slime Festival wasn't her first and she hopes to continue to travel to different festivals.
On the opposite end of the slime spectrum is Nicolette Waltzer, 23, from Westchester, New York who created Glitter Slimes in 2016.
After watching videos online from Korean slimers, she decided to try it herself and says she was the first American slimer. Often making slime as a child, Waltzer said she started to make slime the way she did as a kid and posted her videos on Instagram.
Just over three years later, Waltzer claims 2.1 million followers on Instagram. She says slime is now her full-time job and says her first year sales of the stuff reached $1 million. Her website displays 25 varieties selling for between $9-$16 for nine ounces.
"I was just in it (the slime world) when it blew up and I've worked hard to stay with it," Waltzer said. "Slime is a trend, so just like anything it can die out, but if you just stick to what you love it really helps."
Each of Waltzer's slimes are modeled after a different type of food. From Rice Krispie treats and pumpkin cheesecake to cotton candy and maple fudge, each slime smells like you could take a bite out of it –– but you seriously shouldn't.