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Palm Harbor Citrus Festival lends old-fashioned fun to weekend


If you're lookin' to squeeze a bit of old-fashioned fun into your weekend, look to the inaugural Palm Harbor Citrus Festival.

The festival brings carnival rides and games, old-time music, a citrus-themed bakeoff, Dancing With the Palm Harbor Stars competition and the crowning of the first Miss Palm Harbor Citrus Festival Queen.

"It's all about celebrating our heritage," said Mona Johnson, chairwoman of the festival committee. "It grew from an idea into something quite huge."

Palm Harbor, founded in 1864, was a land of citrus groves and cattle ranches. Fun was found in simple activities like singing and fiddling, or tossing horseshoes or lemons.

Visitors can experience those same types of simple pleasures at this down-home event presented by the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce and Old Palm Harbor Main Street.

A carnival with a Ferris wheel, food, and kiddy rides and games runs today, Saturday and Sunday on Georgia Avenue.

The festival kicks into high gear Saturday with four blocks of activities in the historic downtown from Georgia to Florida avenues and between Alternate U.S. 19 and Omaha Street.

Have a tasty citrus-inspired recipe?

Enter the "Palmsberry Bake-off" at Harbor Hall by noon Saturday. Categories include cookies and bars, cakes and quick breads, pies and tarts, and jams, jellies and condiments.

Winners will be announced at 1 p.m. A cakewalk follows.

Then get ready for some local glamor as high school students from the Palm Harbor area compete to be the citrus queen.

"We have nine beautiful, intelligent young ladies vying for the title," Johnson said.

Contestants will model active wear and answer interview questions on the main stage on Florida Avenue from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The pageant final is 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday and features an evening wear competition.

Also on the main stage, enjoy a variety of hand-clappin', foot-stompin' genres, including folk, gospel and bluegrass.

Children will likely enjoy the yesteryear activities planned for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Harbor Hall parking lot.

Games include the lemon toss, grapefruit bowl, a juice squeezing contest and "pig pen," a balloon challenge.

Stop by the Rheba Sutton White Chapel between 1:30 and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as the Palm Harbor Historical Museum presents pioneer tales and children's readings.

Restaurants will be open and a concessionaire will sell smoked barbecue, chicken wraps, seafood and Greek food. Quench your thirst with lemonade or fresh-squeezed orange juice.

The grand finale Sunday is the Dancing With the Palm Harbor Stars competition orchestrated by Lania Berger of Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Palm Harbor.

The stars?

Peggy O'Shea of the Pinellas County School Board, County Commissioner Susan Latvala and Palm Harbor fire Chief Jim Angle.

"They've been practicing for two weeks," Johnson said. "They are very serious."

Have a Diversions idea? Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

if you go

Palm Harbor

Citrus Festival

The Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce and Old Palm Harbor Main Street introduce this festival, featuring a carnival, dance competition, bakeoff, citrus queen contest and "founder" activities.

Carnival hours: 4 to 10 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $1 each or buy a wristband for $18 per session.

General festival hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: In the historical downtown area, bordered by Georgia and Florida avenues and between Alternate U.S. 19 and County Road 1 (Omaha Street).

Parking: Free at Palm Harbor University High School on Omaha Street. Pedicabs available for tips. Parking also available on surrounding streets.

Information: Call the chamber at (727) 784-4287 or Old Palm Harbor Main Street at (727) 787-4700 or visit

Palm Harbor Citrus Festival lends old-fashioned fun to weekend 04/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 4:42pm]
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