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Celebrate big with Fourth of July festivities

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.

If you go

• Friendly Kia Fest Main Street Blast runs from 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday in Sims Park, downtown New Port Richey. Food, entertainment, arts and crafts, kids' activities (including water slide), Miss Firecracker contest and fireworks at dark. Music lineup includes Eric Anderson and Jam Sandwich from 2 to 3 p.m.; Circle Sky from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.; That 70's Band from 7 to 8:30 p.m.; and Aerosmith tribute band Draw the Line from 8:45 to 10:30 p.m. Free.

• The Angelus fourth annual Family, Fun, Fireworks Extravaganza will be Saturday at the Angelus House, 12413 Hudson Ave., Hudson. Gates open at 2 p.m.; bands start at 3:30 p.m.; fireworks at 9 p.m. Food, beverages, games. Cost is $10 per carload; $2 per person walk-in. Proceeds benefit the Angelus House for severely handicapped adults.

Freedom Festival will be 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. Bicycle parade, contests and prizes, band competition, shopping, dining specials and a grand finale show starting at 9 p.m.

Sparklebration, an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration hosted by the nonprofit Pasco County Fair Association, will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City. The music line-up includes vocalist Ashley Shannon at 4:45 and 6:45 and 7:30 p.m.; Borderline at 5:10 and 7:10 p.m.; Elvis tribute artist Ken Grube at 6 p.m.; The Dennis Lee Show at 8:05 p.m. Fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. Parking is $5. No personal fireworks, coolers, alcohol, pets or food allowed.

Over the border

Machine Gun Shoot will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Hernando Sportsman's Club, 16121 Commercial Way, north of Weeki Wachee. Those who own machine guns can participate for $20. Several cars, trucks and assorted targets will be destroyed. Spectators, $2; youth under 15 are admitted free. Call (352) 597-9931 or visit

Patriotic Picnic in the Park will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Craig Park in Tarpon Springs. Live music, waterslide, free food, game area featuring horseshoes, badminton, volleyball; hot dog-eating contest, plastic hoop contest, watermelon seed-spitting contest, sack races, balloon-launching contest, bubble gum-blowing contest; and outrigger rides in the bayou (children must be accompanied by an adult). Free.


Port Richey will not have a fireworks show this year at Waterfront Park. Organizers were not able to plan the event in time.

Celebrate big with Fourth of July festivities 06/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:19pm]
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