NEW PORT RICHEY — One of the area's most popular festivals, the Cotee River Seafood Festival and Boat Show, starts at 5 p.m. today and continues with boat-related activities through 6 p.m. Sunday in and around Sims Park.
All kinds of watercraft, from kayaks to cruisers, will be on exhibit around Orange Lake on Saturday and Sunday, and the Cedar Key Clam Company and Hammerhead Seafood cooks will be among the food vendors throughout the park.
Today's big event runs from 5 to 11 p.m. with "Best of the '60s MUSIC," and "A Tribute to Motown" featuring Jonathan Cortez and Rickie Merritt in the amphitheater at Sims Park.
The entire area comes alive on Saturday and Sunday, when boats of all kinds surround the lake, said Ted Thomas, publicist for the event, sponsored by Greater New Port Richey Main Street.
"We never really know what the exhibitors are going to bring to the show, but we're expecting sailboats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, personal watercraft and cruisers," he said.
Most are in the midsize price range, he added.
The gates open at 10 a.m. both days, with the Arts and Crafts Village, Miss Daisy riverboat tours ($5), and boat displays open until 6 p.m.
The "Blues by the River Concert" goes from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
On Saturday, there will also be a kayak race and fun paddle from Salt Springs State Park to Sims Park from 10 to 11 a.m.
The Suncoast Corvette and Classic Car Club will have a show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
On both days, the 20-minute Live Shark Experience will take place at the top of every hour in a 5,000-gallon tank set up on the north side of Orange Lake. Seating will be in a tent for shade.
"This is quite educational," Thomas said. "The speaker talks about sharks, then his assistant enters the tank and interacts with the shark."
Besides seafood, there will be vendors selling festival foods such as funnel cakes, Italian sausages and kettle corn.
A mermaid from Weeki Wachee Park will be available for photos, as will Capt. Jack, a well-known Caribbean pirate.