For Victoria Bay of St. Petersburg, there's nothing better than living in a beautiful place filled with trees and blooms that dot the cityscape. In fact, she considers herself part of a large group she calls "plant people" who delight in gardening.
Next Saturday and Sunday, Bay will be in her element as the city of St. Petersburg hosts the 24th annual Green Thumb Festival marking Arbor Day and Earth Day. Visitors will find splashes of color from every garden plant imaginable, along with festivities for all ages.
The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days in Walter Fuller Park, 7891 26th Ave. N. Admission and parking are free.
There will be 117 vendors selling plants, flowers and garden art, environmental and horticultural exhibits, 500 free butterfly-attracting plants each day, entertainment from a jazz trio, and make-and-take crafts for children.
"It's an amazing festival," said Bay, who volunteers in the horticulture program at Pinellas Technical Education Centers in St. Petersburg and has attended the event for 10 years. "For plant people, it is just the best! To see what's out there, get exposed to different businesses, organizations and societies within the plant world, it's just great."
That's what organizers like Linda Seufert, park operations manager for the city Parks and Recreation Department, want to hear. Seufert, who serves as festival co-chair, said getting residents back into cultivating plants and taking pride in Mother Nature's beauty are goals of the event.
Jan Ankerberg, chairwoman of the children's plant fair at the festival, encourages kids to develop their own green thumbs.
"Our children are our future gardeners of tomorrow, and we feel this program creates enthusiasm not only for the children, but also for the parents," she said.
Preschoolers to fifth-graders can bring a plant to learn about it and get a gardening T-shirt, a pine seedling they can plant at home, and other materials that promote environmental awareness.
"The children walk through the door with a sparkle in their eyes and are excited to show their plant," Ankerberg said. "You would be surprised at how many children return each year to tell us how they helped their mom and dad in the garden or yard."
Another event favorite is the St. Petersburg Garden Club's standard flower show, held in the community building at the park. There also will be a lecture on sustainable gardening, a seminar from a bromeliads specialist, a $3 tree sale, and the chance to scoop up a bag of free mulch. Students from PTEC will field questions and offer free diagnostics on plants, soil and water. And don't forget to bring those dull gardening tools to be sharpened for $3 by the Landscape Maintenance Association.
The Green Thumb Festival was established in 1986 by individuals and institutions, including the St. Petersburg Parks Department; the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association; and PTEC.
Mayor Bill Foster will be presented with a plaque from Tree City USA, which signifies a strong commitment to the city's forestry programs.
For information, call (727) 893-7335.
Classic films for a quarter: Beach Theatre, celebrating its 70th anniversary, is offering The Wizard of Oz at 1 and 4 p.m. and His Girl Friday at 7 p.m. 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. Admission: 25 cents; popcorn and sodas, 10 cents each. Call (727) 360-6697.
Celtic Woman: The female vocal ensemble performs traditional and contemporary Celtic-based songs. 7:30 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $57 to $72. Call (727) 892-5767.
Mainsail Arts Festival: Juried show of fine art and crafts by 250 U.S. artists includes student art show, food court, live music and children's
art activities. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vinoy Park, Bayshore Drive and Seventh Avenue NE, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 892-5885 or visit
Run With the Big Dogs: A five-stop motorcycle poker run includes a breakfast buffet (9-11 a.m.), live music by the Edisons, prizes and drawings. Registration at 10 a.m., first bike out at 11 a.m., last bike in at 4 p.m. Benefits Greyhound Pets of America. Quaker Steak and Lube, 10400 49th St. N, Pinellas Park. $10 per hand, $20 three hands. Visit runwiththebigdogstampabay.com or call (727) 585-0201.
Youth boating safety class: Fourth- through sixth-graders can get tips on staying safe on
the water. Adults must stay with their children.
10 a.m. to noon. St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free. Call Abby at (727) 525-2757.
Florida's botanical wonders: Sandra Friend, author of Exploring Florida's Botanical Wonders, gives a 40-minute visual presentation and signs books afterward. 6 p.m. Bill Jackson's, 9501 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park. Contact Ruth at (727) 531-3323 or (813) 220-5833.
Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair: Nearly 40 employers showcase opportunities and give tests, tips and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 893-8523 or go to stpete.org/coliseum.
Genocide and Human Rights Awareness Month event: Discussion by Slavenka Drakulic, noted Croatian author of They Would Never Hurt a Fly and As If I Am Not There. 7 p.m. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 820-0100.
Household budgeting seminar: Learn how to live better on less and save to buy a home. Sponsor: Community Service Foundation. 6 to 9 p.m. Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 461-0618 or csfhome.org.
Sci Café: Hear and see how the power of the sun is used to create pottery art pieces in "A Sustainable Building: The Word is Photovoltaic." Also, pottery demos, facility tours, free food and drink. 6 to 7: 30 p.m. The Morean Arts Center for Clay at the Historic Seaboard Train Station, 420 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. Free; reservations required. Call (727) 803-9799.
'Mark Twain Himself: A Benefit for Haitian Relief': On the 100th anniversary of his alleged death, Mark Twain offers his views on the issues of his day. Doors at 6:30 p.m., event starts at 7. Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $20 suggested donation. Call (727) 867-7961 or visit studio620.org.
Wee-time at Weedon: Includes crafts, games and hands-on activities related to Eric Carle's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Best for ages 3 to 5. 10:30 a.m. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Free; advance registration required. Call (727) 453-6500 or see weedonislandpreserve.org.
West Side Story: Students from Shorecrest Preparatory School present the musical. 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday. Tickets go on sale April 19. Adults $15, students $5. Janet Root Theater, Shorecrest Prep, 5101 First St. NE, St. Petersburg. Call (727) 522-2111 for box office times.
Amy London and Roni Ben-Hur: Two New York City jazz performers present a tribute to Ella Fitzgergald and Duke Ellington. 8 p.m. Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $25. Call (727) 822-3590.
Brides-to-Be Wedding Tasting: Plan your Marriott wedding with a welcome champagne toast, sampling of items from the Marriott's wedding menu, wedding vendors, fashion show. 2 to 5 p.m. Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg. Free, but reservations required by April 19; limited seating. Call (727) 456-1348.
Nature walk: Stroll the beach and coastal areas. 10 to 11 a.m. Fort De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. Free; registration required. Call (727) 552-1862.
Strut Your Stuff 3K: Participants of all ages may walk or run the nearly 2-mile route through some of Gulfport's most scenic streets. Benefits the Gulfport Senior Center's fitness programs. 9 a.m. to noon. Gulfport Senior Center, 5501 27th Ave. S. $10. Call Lynda at (727) 323-3892 or Cynthia at (727) 893-1231.
'Wildlife and Western Visions' art show: Original paintings, sculptures, giclees and museum-quality American Indian jewelry on display and available for purchase. New "Quick Draw" artist demonstration is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free tours of the Tom and Mary James/Raymond James Financial Art Collection available. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; also Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Raymond James Financial Center, 880 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg. Free admission. Call (727) 726-5100 or visit wildlifeartshow.com.