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Pasco's Eco-Fest, Nov. 18-20, offers kayaking, boating, birding, geocaching and more

Andrea Webb grew up photographing some of the most beautiful places in the world — Portugal, Jamaica, Argentina. The daughter of a diplomat, Webb now lives in the land of white sandy beaches in Pinellas, but when she's in the mood to shoot something, she grabs her camera gear and heads north.

"When you get into Pasco, it feels like you've traveled to another world," said Webb, who is known as "the eagle lady" for her stunning images of the majestic birds. "It's a great place to photograph wildlife in a natural setting."

She has captured images of the rare masked booby sea bird in the coastal mangroves, a South American kelp gull at the Anclote pier, and of course the usual suspects: pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, sand hill cranes. This time of year is especially timely for birding, as instinct and winter bring the flocks south to roost.

Come take a look.

The inaugural Pasco EcoFest, set for Nov. 18-20 at various parks and venues around the county, will showcase Pasco's natural wonders with kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, camping and geocaching — and, of course, bird-watching.

The event started as a birding adventure when the plans were first hatched in May. But it has blossomed into a weekend packed with more than 60 activities, said Pam Marron, who organized the event with Marj Golub. More than 30 organizations and volunteers such as Webb will offer presentations and services throughout the three-day event.

Activities abound at 10 Pasco County parks. You can make a birdhouse or a rain barrel. Watch an artist at work or take part in a fishing tournament. Take photographs on a nature walk along the Nature Coast or an inland hammock. Go on a river cruise or out to Anclote Key. Or stargaze with astronomy enthusiasts at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park or join a sunset drum circle and make s'mores around a beach bonfire.

The hope is to lure visitors while bringing locals in touch with the treasures in their own back yard, Webb said.

"This really highlights what Pasco has to offer," said Webb, who will give presentations at Anclote River Park. "It's a way to get a taste of what's so close to home — things we don't even know are there."

It all begins with an Opening Night Gala and nature art show at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Homewood Suites in Port Richey. J.B. Starkey will give opening remarks. Folk singer Mark Jorgensen will provide entertainment. Ken Greene, the second-place winner of the CBS reality series The Amazing Race, Season 13, will open the geocache challenge, a GPS treasure hunt with participants scurrying to 10 parks to find 48 plastic containers bearing special codes bearing gifts and discounts from sponsoring businesses.

The event website — www.pascoecofest.com — has a full itinerary as well as instructions on the geocache challenge, Marron said.

"There's something for everyone," she said. "This is a family-friendly festival where we are planning activities all over so the parks can all be visited and people can see the natural jewels of our county."

If you go:

Pasco EcoFest

When: Nov. 18-20

Where: Six Pasco County coastal parks and one inland park will be open free of charge to visitors including Eagle Point, Key Vista, Anclote Gulf and Anclote River parks. Additional venues include the Pasco County School District's Energy Marine Center and the Nature Center in Starkey Park, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, Anclote Key State Preserve and several city parks in New Port Richey.

Cost: Most events are free, but there is a charge for some activities such as kayaking and boat rides.

Information: To find out more or to volunteer, go to www.pascoecofest.com or call (727) 375-8986.

Pasco's Eco-Fest, Nov. 18-20, offers kayaking, boating, birding, geocaching and more 11/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 11:58am]

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