The celebration of our nation's Declaration of Independence, freeing us from England, kicks off this weekend with red, white and blue aplomb in Pasco County.
The Friendly Kia Fest/Main Street Blast will offer the typical summertime festivities starting Saturday in Sims Park in New Port Richey.
But there's more in store for patriotic revelers in the days leading right up to the Fourth of July, when Sparklebration will cap things off with an old-time celebration at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City.
"There's going to be a lot going on," said Beth Fregger, executive director of New Port Richey Main Street, who helped coordinate the Main Street Blast event that will unfold on the banks of the Cotee River.
Main Street Blast will include American food, arts and crafts, face painting, bounce houses, the annual Miss Firecracker Beauty and Talent Contest, a corn toss tournament, river rides, live music and, of course, a fireworks display lighting up the sky in the hours after the sun goes down.
People may want to bring lawn chairs, blankets and beach towels, as this year's festival will include an expanded kids zone with inflatable water games and a slide that's sure to cool the little ones.
Local artist Otok Ben-Hvar, a regular exhibitor at the Progress Energy Art Gallery, will demonstrate how he uses firecrackers to create his abstract paintings.
"A lot of his stuff, with his color schemes, looks really patriotic," Fregger said. "What comes out is really interesting."
And the music is sure to take listeners back in time.
"This time the theme is kind of '70s and '80s rock," said Fregger. The line up features Draw the Line, an Aerosmith tribute band out of Boston, that will be flanked by three bands with local followings: Circle Sky, That 70's Band and Jam Sandwich.
Fast forward to the Fourth of July, where Sparklebration festivities will include patriotic music, waving flags, corn on the cob, caramel apples, lemonade, food eating contests, an Elvis and, of course, fireworks.
The family-friendly event offers plenty to do for the kids. Tony "the Balloon Guy" will stroll the grounds from 4 to 9 p.m. Fran Goh will offer face painting on the porch of the Madill Building. Kids can also visit the free petting zoo. Bounce houses, carnival games and pony rides will be available for a nominal fee.
Skydivers are slated to drop in about 6:15 p.m., courtesy of Skydive City in Zephyrhills. An elaborate fireworks display is set to start at 9:15 p.m.
Entertainment will be held throughout the evening. Guest artists include the Dennis Lee Show, an audience-interactive show that features improvisation, quick wit and renditions of musical favorites from various genres. Nashville recording artist Ashley Shannon will sing selections from her debut CD, Red My Lipstick. Shannon, a Zephyrhills native, was recently named the 2012 Entertainer of the Year by the North American Country Music Associations, International. Rounding out the entertainment will be Kenn "Elvis" Grube, who will perform the Elvis Tribute Show, a Sparklebration staple.