Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap family fun for the weekend

22

April

Hey Mommas (and Poppas -- we know you plan too), we are trying something a little different this week. We are putting up our free and cheap family fun post a day early. We like to plan ahead and we figured you do too, so we are giving you are very popular free and cheap list on Thursday instead of Friday. So look for free and cheap fun here and keep checking back because as we find good deals, we'll add them to our list.

There are many, many events to celebrate Mother Earth today and this weekend. One of our favorites is  Mom_butterflies the Green Thumb Festival which always seems to roll around just when we are in the throws of puttering around outside again. Experienced shoppers know to bring along a wagon to Walter Fuller Park in St. Petersburg to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day by shopping for flowering plants, trees, orchids, herbs and garden art. You can bring a sample of soil and water for free testing, and get your tools sharpened for free, too. There will be horticulture exhibits, a Children’s Plant Fair and don’t miss the Garden Club of St. Petersburg’s flower show inside the gym, 7891 26th Ave. N, to get some inspiration. This free event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 

You get two days of free music in nature’s best concert hall, Pass-a-Grille Beach, at Beach Goes Pops this weekend. Friday starting at 4 p.m., you can hear Next Exit, The Venturas and Suzette Jennings and the Moodswingz. On Saturday, starting at 5 p.m., it’s Hip Abduction, saxophonist Jeff Zavrac and the Beach Goes Pops Orchestra. There will also be artwork and crafts for sale, and food and beverage vendors at Ninth Avenue and Gulf Way St. Pete Beach. If you can't make it to the beach, the Florida Orchestra will present Pops in the Park at two Tampa parks on Friday and Saturday. The music is free and you can't beat the entertainment. The orchestra will play everything from show tunes to overtures. For all the concerts, remember to bring your blankets and chairs.

The concerts are fun events in the park for the whole family. But if you are considering taking the kids to see American Stage in the Park's performance of Hair on St. Petersburg's waterfront, don't do it. The musical's organizers say the play will be full of the hippie happenings of the '60s including references to drugs and sex. So be forewarned: The musical is rated R. This seems perfect for a date night.

Serious spikers are heading to Clearwater Beach this weekend for the Big Shot Volleyball Series. SomeMom_volleyball 150 teams from across the country compete in this 2-on-2 beach volleyball tournament. This is leading to the $6,000 Big Shot Championships every September in Atlantic City and the $2,000 Gulfview Championships Oct. 20-218 on Clearwater Beach. It’s free to watch from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Pier 60 on  Clearwater Beach.

Here’s the story: Yarn-spinners from across the country will bring to life folk tales, fables, ghost stories, tall tales, fairy tales and maybe even Uncle Charlie’s fish tales at the Storytelling Festival. Also, a special performance by Eth-Noh-Tec, a San Francisco-based kinetic story theater group that blends storytelling, physical theater and choreography. It’s taking place Saturday at Hillsborough High School, 5000 N Central Ave. in Tampa from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the festival website for details on this free event.

Clearwater's Fun N' Sun Festival gets underway this weekend and runs through May 2 all around Clearwater. The city's 57th annual family-friendly festival kicks off Friday, and as usual, there's a slate of talent on hand. Country up-and-comers Gloriana, Billy Currington and Love and Theft have all played Fun N' Sun in recent years. This year, there are three big concerts in Coachman Park. All are free, with $20 reserved seating tickets available via Ticketmaster. The highlights:

  • Saturday: At the 15th annual Smooth Jazz Fest, it'll be like watching the Weather Channel live and in person. We kid -- jazz and gospel great Oleta Adams (8:15 p.m.) is actually this year's headliner, with Jessy J (6:30 p.m.), Spencer Day (4:45 p.m.), B.K. Jackson (3:15 p.m.) and Les Sabler (2 p.m.) rounding out the bill.
  • Sunday: The big deal at Fun N' Sun is the country concert, and this year's lineup is a winner. Travis Tritt (7:30 p.m.), above, headlines, but Darryl Worley (6 p.m.), Blackberry Smoke (4:30 p.m.) and Josh Thompson (3:20 p.m.) will get the crowd pumped, too. The Harters (2:30 p.m.), Burns and Poe (1:40 p.m.), LoCash Cowboys (1 p.m.) and Amanda Drake and the Barn Burners (12:20 p.m.) perform earlier in the day.
  • May 1: It's time to rock. Eddie Money (8:30 p.m.) and Blue Oyster Cult (6:30 p.m.) never met an outdoor festival they couldn't rock, and when you throw in Foghat (4:45 p.m.), Invasion (3:30 p.m.) and Greg West (1:30 p.m.), baby, you got a stew goin'.

Mom_longo The Tampa Bay Rays return home this weekend after a lengthy and successful road trip. This weekend's homestand features giveaways for the ladies (on Friday an I Heart Longo T-shirt) and kids (on Sunday a Zorilla Gorilla Webkinz). On Saturday after the game, the Rays Concert Series begins with Creedence Clearwater Revival legend John Fogerty. Tickets available at tampabayrays.com. And if you're a BrightHouse Networks customer, take advantage of a deal on Saturdays that gets you two outfield seats, two hot dogs and snacks for $40. Just show your BrightHouse bill at the ticket window when you make the purchase.

A good time is sure to be had by all at the Northdale Family Fun Festival and Parade on Saturday in Tampa. There will be free food, demonstrations,  games and activities for kids and entertainment. It begins at 10:45 a.m. For more details, go to the Northdale Civic Association website.

And we haven't even told you about the Busch Gardens events with Jack Hanna, the St. Anthony's Triathlon events, Touch-A-Truck in Dunedin or the Family Picnic and Kite Decorating Party in Zephyrhills in honor of National Kite Month. Isn't there a month for everything? For more kid and family friendly events this weekend and beyond, check out the events at tampabay.com/things to do. There are great date night ideas, shopping tips and more.

Ironically, nature’s wicked rainstorm last weekend canceled the Earth Day celebration at Lowry Park. So the rescheduled celebration of the 40th annual Earth Day Tampa Bay celebration features exhibitors, demonstrations, arts and crafts, music, and children’s activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lowry Park Band Shell, 7350 N Boulevard. Pet-friendly. Free parking and admission. For details, see their website

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:06am]

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