Free and cheap family fun this week
We could write this every week lately: Beautiful weather, get outside or check out these events. But this weekend, like all the others, we mean it!
It’s free on Friday to check out the 34th annual SPIFFS Folk Fair from 3 to 5 p.m. The St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society has costumed villagers demonstrate time-honored hand craftsmanship and prepare ethnic food specialties for visitors Friday through Sunday. Eat your way around the world as you move from village to village sampling a variety of homemade ethnic dishes. Folk dancing and music will be performed throughout the weekend. Grand opening ceremonies are at 3 p.m. Saturday. It runs from 3-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Cost on Saturday and Sunday is $10 for adults, $8 seniors, 9 and younger free at Vinoy Park, Fifth Avenue NE and North Shore Drive, St. Petersburg. Go here for more details.
It’s free for spectators to watch the Tampa Equestrian Festival today through next weekend at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center 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. today-Sunday and March 31-April 4. Schedule highlights today (thursday) at 1 p.m., $35,000 Tampa Bay Welcome Stake; on Sunday at 2 p.m., it’s the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, a World Cup qualifier; and on April 1 at 1 p.m., $35,000 Grand Prix of Florida, the final qualifier for the American Invitational.
Pasco County’s Chasco Fiesta is coming up on the home stretch this week in New Port Richey. The final four days of the 11-day festival filled with music, races on land and water, Florida’s oldest boat parade, several new special events, and the colorful Native American Festival. There will be talks on tribal history, customs and crafts, and Native American dancers, all on the half hour from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today; 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. There are also Native American arts, crafts, toys, clothing, music and food for sale. And the Chasco Boat Parade on the Pithlachascotee River is at 1 p.m. Saturday starts in Miller’s Bayou just east of U.S. 19, meandering along the New Port Richey linear park, south to Sims Park. A new feature is live bands on board many boats in the parade, which has “Musical Madness” as its theme. Top prize is $2,500. To reach Sims Park/Orange Lake, take U.S. 19 to New Port Richey, go east on Main Street and over the Pithlachascotee River bridge. Sims Park is on the north side of Main Street on the banks of the river. See more details here or call (727) 842-7651.
Got a car-obessed gearhead in your house? The Festival of Speed in North Straub Park will have a motor sports collection and luxury lifestyle display with 180 high end sports and luxury cars, jewels, unique timepieces, collectible artwork, exotic travel destinations and more from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the park at Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive in St. Petersburg. Cost is $10, 12 and younger free; $45 (VIP), $80 (couple VIP).
For you Mommas, it's a free Ladies Night Out. Nibble on free treats from the Let’s Eat meal preparation kitchen, taste wine pairings and get a free chair massage at VINO 100, 5056 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Get your best shorts or spring dress out, preschoolers. Max & Ruby, the popular Noggin and Nick Jr. show is on the road with a live performance at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Max, the 3-year-old bunny, and his big sister Ruby will be at Ferguson Hall for two shows March 29. Tickets are still available for the 3 p.m. show for $9.50 each. The theater is at 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Call (813) 229-7827 or go here for more information.
A free Summer Sign-Up Splash event at Patel Conservatory will have games, prizes, a bounce house and face painting for children while parents check out information about summer camps from organizations all over Tampa. Families also can observe samples of summer camps and enjoy live music performed on the Riverwalk by nine bands consisting of children and adult students from the Patel Conservatory Rock School program. Check it out from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Patel Conservatory at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa.
If your kids are fearless then they will enjoy Fearless Friday March Maddness from 7-10:30 p.m. at the J.W. Cate Recreation Center, 5801 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Activities include sporting events and tournaments, a live DJ playing music for dance contests and games, a game room, creative arts and crafts and food. Concessions available. Price is $6 plus an annual registration card. For more information, go here or call (727) 893-7751.
De planes! De planes! Expect huge traffic jams along Dale Mabry Highway and MacDill Avenue as hundreds of thousands head to MacDill AirFest on the sprawling military base that's usually off-limits to the public. Once past the gates, visitors will watch flyovers and aircraft demonstrations, including the Air Force Thunderbirds and parachute teams. On land, they'll step inside military planes such as the B-25 Bomber and other vehicles. The free event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Gates open at 8 a.m. but cars typically start lining up as early as 6.
No excuses -- you've got to get out of the house this weekend and have some fun.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[Photos: Times files, Associated Press]