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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week



cowboyz.jpgWe've got free block parties and free concerts and free pancakes, oh my! There's also a high-octane and hugely popular motocross show in town, Nuclear Cowboyz. Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions:

The downtown Clearwater’s free street festival, Blast Friday, this month will feature a performance by ’70s hitmakers Pablo Cruise. (Admit it, you can’t help but blast the radio when the slick synth-rockers ask, “What you gonna do when she says goodbye?”) There will also be a variety of vendors, plus food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. The street fair begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday with entertainment outside until 10 p.m. in the 400 block of Cleveland Street in Clearwater. Free.

Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos has two shows roaring to town this weekend.  For the uninitiated, Nuclear Cowboyz is a show that combines the sport of freestyle motocross with the plot of, well, a B movie. Catch them this weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets start at $10 for ages 2 to 15 and $20 for adults. (813) 301-2500.

Next Tuesday is Free Pancake Day. IHOP is once again giving away a short stack of buttermilk pancakes this year, and all they ask in return is a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network to reach their goal of $2.7 million. So set your alarm on Tuesday , and find a participating location at

The two complementary festivals Flan Fest and Fiesta Day  turn Ybor City into a yummy party Saturday. The flantastic caramel custard takes center stage with flans to sample, a recipe contest and a flan-eating contest in Centennial Park. At the same time, there’s Fiesta Day, about the Cuban, German, Italian and Spanish immigrants who made the cigars and the city the spicy mix it is today. There’s an arts marketplace, lots of ethnic food and, of course, music for dancing in the streets in and around the Italian Club, 1731 E Seventh Ave. Both start at 11 a.m. Saturday. Free admission.

Called the Battle of Ballast Point, Civil War re-enactors will be camped out this weekend at Fort DeSoto with ongoing events such as battle re-enactments and demonstrations of mid-19th century life. Have a bag of fresh kettle corn and listen to some drum and fife music or watch artillery demonstrations and infantry drills. It runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fort De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. Free, but it’s now $5 to get into the park.

Get thee to RenFest! This isn't cheap, but the Tampa Bay Renaissance Festival is fun for kids. The annual incarnation of a 16th century village in the “forest” beyond Tampa’s MOSI continues through April 1. This weekend’s theme is Wonders of the World, featuring a barbecue competition, grape stomp, egg roll eating competition and — are you ready? — the Florida State Belly Dance Competition. (If you plan on entering this, probably best to skip the egg rolls.) Here are three other handy tips to have an enjoyable trip back through time:

  • DRESS UP: Ren-fest fans love to attend in costume. Anything from a traditional kilt to last year’s fairy costume from Halloween will do.
  • PIG OUT: Sample the semi-authentic fare of ye olden days, including smoked turkey legs, Scotch eggs and a pint of mead.
  • RAISE YOUR HAND: If you don’t volunteer as a participant in a stage show, we guarantee you they’ll pick you anyway. Especially those crazy Washing Well Wenches. And be a good commoner: Bring some dollar bills for tipping.

Turn your pet into an artist at Paws for the Arts where dogs and cats can create an original work of art. Owners select up to four colors of non-toxic paint to dab onto their pets’ paws before letting them run or flick their tails across the canvas. Two pets may share the same canvas for an additional charge. Also vendor area and agility course. Proceeds benefit arts education. $25, $5 additional dog on same canvas; $35 advanced reservations. Canterbury School of Florida, 990 62nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 365-7788. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Puppy Palooza

The Florida African-American Heritage Celebration is the 13th annual celebration of African-American culture and heritage includes entertainment, a step show competition, education, children’s activities and food. Free. Heritage Village, 11909 125th St., Largo. (727) 532-1698. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

The annual Pasco County Fair fair returns with midway rides, food, livestock shows, pageants, a professional rodeo, demolition derby and music. $8, $5 ages 6-12, five and younger free. Midway wristbands: $18 Mon.-Thur.; $22 Fri.-Sun. (admission not included). Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 SR 52, Dade City. (352) 567-6678. 3-11 p.m. today, 3 p.m.-midnight Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

AMC Theatres and the Autism Society present Sensory Friendly Films in an environment friendly to those affected by autism and other sensory issues.  This month: The Secret World of Arrietty. $8, $7 ages 2-12 (price varies by theater). Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar, Veterans 24 in Tampa, Tri-City 8 in Largo and Regency 20 in Brandon. 10 a.m. Saturday.

For this weekend's free Sunset Cinema at Pier 60 bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Kung Fu Panda 2 and Saturday features the PG-13 rated film Real Steel. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Movies start at dusk. 

Lace up your sneakers and Run for Kids on Saturday. Includes a 10K, 5K, Pelican Mile and kids fun run. All races begin at BayWalk in downtown St. Petersburg and course through the beautiful waterfront district. The proceeds of the Suncoast Classic “Run for Kids” event benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. $10-$30. BayWalk, 151 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 8 a.m. Saturday.

Nature events at Weedon Island this week: At Saturday’s Owl Cast Cafe, biologists show how Florida’s owls benefit nature through their diets. Free (registration required). 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday. From 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, join birding experts on an early morning Bird Walk, exploring the preserve’s diverse bird habitats. Free. There will be a Guided Hike from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, through coastal mangroves and upland ecosystems. Bring water and hat. Recommended for ages 6 and older. Free, but registration required. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500.

Nature events at Brooker Creek this week: Discover Florida Snakes and learn venomous and non-venomous snake identification tips, habitats and the snake’s role in Florida’s landscape. Free (registration required). 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday. Or take a Guided Hike from 9 to 10:30 a.m. to see how the land has changed over time and discuss the ecological footprints left by those changes. Wear close-toed shoes, bring water and a hat. Best for ages 6 and up. Free but registration required. Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 453-6800.

AT a Wildflower Walk on Saturday you can learn to identify Florida wildflowers and enjoy their beauty in a guided stroll through the preserve. $3 adults, $1.50 children. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

See some of the best players in the country when the Big Shot Volleyball Tournament arrives at Clearwater Beach this weekend.
Approximately 200 teams from across the East coast compete in this 2-on-2 beach volleyball tournament. This is the first tournament in the warm-up series. Free for spectators. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (631) 728-0397. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Performing Arts students in grades 6-12 present Alice in Wonderland Jr.,  a musical adaptation of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. $5, $3 children/students/seniors. Academy of the Holy Names, 3319 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 831-4901. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:26pm]


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