Free and cheap family fun this week
April showers may bring May flowers but our bank accounts are still dried up. You can check out all the weekend's family-friendly activities here. But here's some free and cheap ways to entertain the kiddos this week:
The Festival of States, a St. Petersburg tradition, starts things off sweaty Saturday with the Harvey’s Festival Run, 8 a.m., followed by a parade of tubas and Sun Goddesses at 10 a.m. that starts at Central Avenue and Fifth Street and ends at North Shore Park. A Family FunFest follows with Radio Disney, inflatables, crafts, rock climbing wall, bungee jump, batting booth, games, food and more until 4:30 p.m. in N Straub Park. Many activities are free, but you can buy an all-inclusive wristband $10, individual tickets $1.
Hard bodies on soft sand attract more than 150 beach volleyball teams from across the country to compete in the Big Shot Volleyball Series. This 2-on-2 tournament is part of the 35-event series that leads to the $6,000 Big Shot Championships every September in Atlantic City, N.J. See the action 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. Free for spectators.
Get a babysitter for a free date night tonight! The Whole Foods Market, where hipsters who like hoity-toity foodstuffs hang out, lays out a spread of wines, cheeses and “comedy magic’’ from Vinnie Natale from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday. It’s free, but you have to register at the store at 1548 N Dale Mabry in Tampa, or call (813) 874-9435.
Earth Day is Wednesday but this weekend brings lots of eco-friendly fun. Here's a roundup of Earth Day activities in the Tampa Bay area, most of them are free.
Car lovers will want to check out the free Strawberry Classic Car Show on Saturday. More than 800 cars and trucks will be on display Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. in downtown Plant City in and around McCall Park, 100 N Collins St. There will be antiques, customs, classics and hotrod cars and trucks 1984 and older, live music by Stan and Elaine (6 and 7 p.m.) and vendors with hot rod and automotive accessories. See the city's Web site for more info.
The Mainsail Arts Festival is one of the area’s best, with a nice variety of art at a nice variety of price ranges. The free festival is Saturday and Sunday at Vinoy Park on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront at Bayshore Drive and Seventh Avenue NE with about 250 artists showing works in ceramics, digital art, fiber, glass, graphics, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, sculpture and wood. Mainsail also offers a free children’s hands-on art tent and Young at Art show of student artwork. Hours are 9.a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
TASCO Teens and Students Working Against Tobacco hosts the Teen S.W.A.T. Sandblast, a fun, physically challenging event for teens in grades 6-12. Activities include obstacle course, volleyball tournament, bungee bounce, water joust, tug-of-war, flag football tournament, 20-foot waterslide, rock wall, dj dancing and more. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sat. Treasure Island Municipal Beach, 11260 Treasure Island Blvd., Treasure Island. Free. (727) 892-5060.
The real-life wonder woman is coming! Olympic swimmer/super woman Dara Torres will be in town Wednesday to sign copies of her book Age Is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life. Torres captured the hearts of the mom-jeans set when she launched her Olympic comeback as a new mother at the age of 41, eight years after her last Olympics. She took three silver medals in Beijing — including a heartbreaking .01-second finish behind the gold medalist in the women’s 50-meter freestyle. Line up at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the Barnes and Noble in Carrollwood, 11802 N Dale Mabry, Tampa.
Make it a great weekend!
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
[Photos: Times files -- Festival of States and Mainsail Art Festival]