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Chasco Fiesta returns for nine days of fun

By Michele Miller
ANDRES LEIVA | Times Young carnival visitors raise their arms while sitting on one of the whirling rides during the 2017 Chasco Fiesta. This year's event will be held March 9-17 in downtown New Port Richey.

NEW PORT RICHEY — The annual Chasco Fiesta returns to Pasco County, albeit a little earlier than usual. The multi-venue event kicks off March 9 with the crowning of Queen Chasco and King Pithla at the Coronation Ball at Sparton Manor, and wraps up with a country concert March 17 in Sims Park.

Sandwiched between will be plenty of family-friendly events, including longtime favorites such as the Native American Pow Wow, Sertoma Barbecue, carnival rides, car and truck show, bowling and softball tournaments, flea market and the Special Olympics 5K.

Saturday’s annual street parade will wind down Grand Boulevard with several krewes and floats, school marching bands, bead tossing and performances by Wild Blue Country, the United States Air Force Academy’s band of active-duty musicians.

Florida’s longest-running boat parade will stream down the Pithlachascotee River on March 17, with prime viewing along the riverbanks in Sims Park and on the Main Street bridge in downtown New Port Richey.

Add to that a full slate of live music — bluegrass, jazz, county, rock, blues and Broadway — held daily in Sims Park.

Paid concerts for this year’s event include: Classic Rock Night on March 10 featuring Foghat (Slow Ride, I Just Want to Make Love to You), $20-$30; and Country Night on March 17 with performances by Runaway June, James Barker Band and Levon, $25-$30.

Free concerts include: JOY-FM Family Night on Friday with Heart of the Heroes, Overflow Worship, Citizen Way and Josh Wilson; and The Bay Area Showcase on Sunday with Fifty Grit, Time Bandits, Soul Circus Cowboys and The Black Honkeys .

The Richey Suncoast Theatre presents a preview on March 12 of its upcoming production of the musical Catch Me if You Can during Just Off Broadway night. That event also features local entertainers John Timpanelli, Mikki and Jim Behmer and Theresa Smith. Bluegrass lovers can get their fix on March 13 with performances by the Kody Norris Show and Larry Gillis and the Swampgrass Band. Rock and Jazz Night Under the Stars on March 14 features Sean Chambers and Mama’s Batch. Area favorites Julie Black, the Shawn Paige Band and guitar virtuoso, Damon Fowler will take the stage March 15 for Rhythm and Blues Masters night. Oldies Night is March 16 with Debbie Lett Band, Coo Coo Ca Choo and Atlantic City Boys.

In the spirit of Chasco, which started in 1922 as a fundraiser for the local library, the event will benefit 25 local nonprofit organizations. In 2014, $200,000 was raised by organizations. This year’s nonprofits include Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation, Special Olympics, Salvation Army of Pasco, One Community Now, local high school band boosters and more.

Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow @MicheleMiller52