Free and cheap family events
This could be a fast weekend, very fast -- if you like Indy-style cars doing a little street racing around downtown St. Petersburg. Or you can kick off Easter festivities this weekend. And there's also plenty to do with your pets. Check out these fun events.
Get the fun started on Thursday night at the Festival of States Honda Grand Prix Illuminated Night Parade at 7 p.m. beginning at Central Avenue and Fifth Street and ending on Beach Drive at Fifth Avenue N. Fireworks follow the parade. For more info call (727) 821-9888.
This is the final weekend of the Tampa Equestrian Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. The show jumping competition will have more than 1,000 horses and the world’s best riders competing, including some members of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian team. It runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.through Saturday. It's free for spectators to watch the festival until you get to the American Invitational on Saturday which will be at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Invitational tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com or by calling (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100. Advance tickets are $25, $35, $40. Day of $30, $40, $45. Advance family four-packs are $70, $125. Day of $85, $140. Advance tickets for groups of 20 or more are $17 and $30. For more on group rates, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (508) 698-6810.
If you're in the mood for a little outdoor art, check out the Beauty and the Beach Arts and Crafts Show in Kolb Park at Bay Palm Boulevard, two blocks east of Gulf Boulevard between 15th and 16th avenues, Indian Rocks Beach. There will be outdoor arts, crafts and a music festival with family activities, food and a chalk walk. Admission is free. Go here for more information.
Ready, set, earplugs! The Honda Grand Prix will bring the noise Friday-Sunday in downtown St. Petersburg. There will be IndyCar and ALMS racing with drifting exhibitions on Friday and Sunday and daily air shows. There's also concerts on the GTE Federal Credit Union/Auto Advisers Stage (adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater) including Kings County (12:15-2:15 p.m. Friday), Soul Power Review (4:15-5:30 p.m. Friday), Jo Dell and the Mountain Road Band (11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday), Michelle Murray (1:30-2:45 p.m. Saturday) and Ace Factor (noon-1:30 p.m. Sunday). It's not free or cheap but if you have a gearhead in your house, you may want to go (don't forget the ear plugs, sunscreen and hats). Cost is one day $30, junior $25; Sat.-Sun. $55, junior $50; three-day $45-$110, junior $20-$80. Go here for more information.
Feel like kicking off the Easter festivities a little early? St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 4444 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg, is having it's annual Easter festival beginning at 10 a.m. There will be an egg hunt, inflatables, games and prizes. And for Eckerd staff, faculty, alumni and their children, there will be an egg hunt on the Hough Quad at the the college, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The fun kicks off at 11 a.m. and the Easter Bunny will be in attendance for photos.
If you feel like making the scene with your pet this weekend, there are plenty of choices. Check out the Ruskin PetFest at 9 a.m. Saturday at Dr. Ott's Off-Leash Dog Park, Third Avenue and 21st Street SE. There will be contests (pet fashion, silly pet tricks, pet-owner look-alikes), vendorand more. It's free to attend. Get your children and your dogs out of the house at PawFest, a carnival for kids and canines at 10 a.m. Saturday at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive. Activities include kid’s games, inflatables, a poster contest, hands-on crafts, food and rides on the Largo Central Railroad. For your four-legged children there will be dog obedience demonstrations, pet contests, health screenings, a Doggy Mall and more. Admission and parking are free. There is a fee for an armband to use inflatables. And at Suds on Sunday, the Dunedin Brewery turns into a dog spa with a wash, ear washes and nail trims for your pet. The event, from noon to 5 p.m., is a monthly fundraiser for the Dunedin Doggie Rescue. Washes are $7-$9 depending on the size of the dog. And owners receive a Dunedin brew for every dog wash. The brewery is at 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin.
Finally, take it easy Saturday night at SkyWatch! at the MOSI, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Astronomy experts will take a peek at Mars and the universe and find star clusters and nurseries where stars are being formed. It's free and weather permitting. Call (813) 987-6000 for more information.
If you need them, go here for coupons for other events like ice skating, visits to area aquariums and more. Get out and have fun this weekend. You don't have any excuses.
-- Sherry Robinson