Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dade City Steeplechase has something for everyone

Dot Woo, left, and Sharon Blanchard, who owns the Little Everglades Ranch with husband Bob, arrange salvias and dusty millers Wednesday at the Bunker Club in preparation for the Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City. The Blanchards started the event in 2000 as a community event to benefit charity.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Dot Woo, left, and Sharon Blanchard, who owns the Little Everglades Ranch with husband Bob, arrange salvias and dusty millers Wednesday at the Bunker Club in preparation for the Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City. The Blanchards started the event in 2000 as a community event to benefit charity.

DADE CITY — When you think of horse derbies, most people imagine the very rich and very elite, dressed in fine designer clothes, dripping with jewels, nibbling on small crustless sandwiches and sipping Pimm's.

And this Sunday's Mercedes-Benz Little Everglades Steeplechase will have that. There are tables seating eight people that go for $2,500. Mercedes-Benz will have a lavish tent with exquisite food and bubbly drinks.

But, out of the 16,000 people expected to come, many of them will be regular folk, rumbling up to the Little Everglades Ranch in used cars, toting their kids and a cooler of juice boxes. Some will be dressed in jeans and T-shirts. Some will roll up in trucks and RVs and set out some lawn chairs and grill up burgers and hot dogs.

"There is a misconception," said Mike Campbell, the spokesman for the event. He said many people might be scared of coming to the event because they think it's all hoity-toity, see-and-be-seen types. He said it's not that way at all.

"There's something for everybody here," he said.

In addition to the steeplechase horse races, there will be Jack Russell terrier races, a hat contest, a carriage parade, children's games, antique cars, vendors, musical entertainment and a beer garden sponsored by the Beef O'Brady's in Dade City.

The net proceeds from the event go to charity, although this might be the first year that the founders, Bob and Sharon Blanchard, won't have to pay for that out-of-pocket. Steeplechase races take time to actually make money, Campbell said. The event began in 2000 and last year was the first time it came close to breaking even. Campbell said the Blanchards paid more than $80,000 of their own money last year to charities, such as Quantum Leap Farm Inc., the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village, and Diabetic Charitable Services.

"This is their legacy," Campbell said of the Blanchards' dedication to the event. He said they want it to continue well after they are gone and for generations, to provide a community event that helps charities.

Campbell and his parents, Kevin and Andie, live in Minnesota but come down here to run the event. Kevin and Andie are entrepreneurs who took an early retirement and traveled around the country in an Airstream trailer. They stopped in Tampa four years ago and met the Blanchards through mutual friends. They believed in their cause so much they decided to give up their retirement plans. Now Mike Campbell, who is 23, has joined them in promoting Steeplechase.

"They have their heart in the right place," Campbell said of the Blanchards.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

.if you go

Mercedes-Benz Little Everglades Steeplechase

In addition to the Steeplechase horse races, there will be Jack Russell terrier races, a carriage parade, a party pavilion with musical entertainment, a hat contest, children's activities, a beer garden in the infield and a slew of vendors hawking merchandise.

The event is diverse; there are fancy people sitting at $2,500 tables and those who roll up in their trucks and RVs and do some tailgating with burgers and hot dogs.

Tickets can be bought on the day of the event at Gate C for $20 per person or $60 for a carload of people.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Sunday and close at 7 p.m.

For information, go to www.littleevergladessteeplechase.org or call (352) 521-3661.

The event is at the 2,000-acre Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. There are different entrances to the ranch. Those buying tickets Sunday need to go to Gate C, at 17951 Hamilton Road. For a full list of which gate you need, go to the Web site or call the office.

Dade City Steeplechase has something for everyone 03/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2008 9:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]