Momma's picks: Free and cheap events
You can't say there's nothing to do this weekend. From the Florida State Fair to Cirque to the Scuba Olympics, there's plenty to get you up and moving. The only problem is that some of the events are far from free and cheap. But we have plenty of the easy-on-the-wallet variety as well. Off we go...
The Florida State Fair features midway rides, animals, entertainment and crazy food at the fairgrounds off Interstate 4 in Tampa through Feb. 16. Tickets at the gate are $10 for anyone 12 and older and $5 for kids 6-11 (the prices go up $2 and $1, respectively, on those tickets during the weekend).
There are two "circuses" going on around the bay area. The Circus Sarasota features Ringling Bros. Circus alum Bello Nock, and is under the big top next to Sarasota High School near downtown Sarasota. Tickets start at $10 and the circus is ongoing on select dates through Feb. 22. Go here for more details. And then there is Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy that features aerialists, contortionists, acrobats and juggles -- but no animals. Tickets for this one start at $30 and it plays through Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. See this review of the show.
Of course, there is a little pirate invasion happening in the streets of Tampa this weekend during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Street Festival, which begins at 10 a.m. along Florida Avenue from Kennedy Boulevard to Channelside. Now, you may see a few more people partaking in adult beverages, but if you go early and scope out a good seat for the parade, which starts at 2 p.m., you can take the kids. Besides, there will be a midway, lots of fair-type food and four stages with entertainment. For more info, check out the details here.
When’s the last time you took your dog on a date? Take the pooch to Woofstock on Saturday, a free 1960s-themed dog event with guide dog and obedience demonstrations, vendors selling pet accessories and contests for best costume, longest tail, best trick, a pet and owner look-alike contest and more from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo.
The “first Friday” party known as Get Downtown is always the biggest party of the month in downtown St. Petersburg. And with the weather still reasonably cool it’s nice to mix and mingle outside before the crushing heat returns. If you have young kids, go early and be mindful of the crowds that begin to mingle. The free gathering and live music starts at 6 p.m. Friday on Central Avenue between Second and Third streets.
The ladies of the church have been baking or weeks so load up on koulourakia, finikia and powdered-sugar kourambiethes and other sweets for Super Greek Fest 2009 which will be Friday through Sunday at St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church, 3600 76th St. N, St. Petersburg. The fest will feature homemade food and pastries, cooking demonstrations, dancers, music and crafts. There also will be children's activites. Donation is $1 and food costs extra. For more information, check here.
The Scuba Olympics will feature Certified Junior or Advanced Open Water Divers representing area dive shops competing in teams in such fun competitions as buddy safety skills, three legged race, underwater bicycle race, 40-pound balloon lift from 17-feet of water and more. The competition, which takes place in a 50-meter pool ranging from 4-17 feet deep, benefits a new Special Olympics Swim Team program at Southwest Pool. It's free and takes place beginning at noon Saturday at the Southwest Complex, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. Call (727) 518-3126 for information.
Xtreme International Ice Racing is the kind of race we wish had an audience participation element. Machines that can go from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds race each other ... on ice! ... with no brakes! The adrenaline gets pumping at 5 p.m. Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa Tickets are $12-$20. Call (813) 301-2500 or go here for more details.
Antique and modern trains of all gauges — Lionel, American Flyer, MTH, K-Line, H.O., N-Gauge and G-Gauge — will be on display at the TCA Southern Division Train Show. The show is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the National Guard Armory, 3601 38th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Tickets are $5 adults; ages 12 and younger are free. Food available for purchase. Call (727) 345-0288 for information.
Finally, the Play'n Around Traveling Children's Theatre will present Jack and the Beanstalk at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537Lowell Road, Tampa. Tickets are $10 for adults with one child, $5 for each additional child ages 13 and under. The play is free for toddlers 2 and under. For info call (813)269-1310.
That's enough! Go out and have fun this weekend.
-- Sherry Robinson and Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[Photos: Times files]