Laugh your abs off, learn to flamenco dance or listen to the soothing guitar rhythms of Grammy nominee Alex de Grassi this weekend as the inaugural Tarpon Springs Summer Solstice Festival of the Performing Arts continues its six-week run.
The festival, which began last weekend and stretches through Aug. 1, showcases more than a dozen musical, dance, comedic, storytelling and theatrical acts. It was modeled after the popular and eclectic Savannah Music Festival.
Kathleen Monahan, director of the city's cultural and civic services department, said the festival should put some cool sparkle into what might otherwise be just a long, hot summer.
"We created this festival to give local residents fun and interesting summer activities that are close to home and, at the same time, attract people from outside Pinellas County," she said.
To do so, the department received a $66,000 new product marketing grant from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to purchase advertising in local, state and national publications.
"It seems to be working as we are getting quite a few responses and inquiries from people outside the area," Monahan said. "It will be great exposure for Tarpon Springs."
The summer fest heats up tonight with two productions aimed at tickling your funny bone.
At the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, see a production of David Ives' Off-Broadway comedy, All in the Timing, featuring six one-act plays. The performances continue Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
At the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, local musical comedian and storyteller Suzanne Ruley shares some of her favorite cabaret and musical theater songs.
Saturday night, world class guitarist Alex de Grassi takes the stage at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Often cited for his ability to create a highly orchestrated sound with his guitar, de Grassi received both a Grammy and Indie Award nomination for his 1998 recording The Water Garden.
Sunday evening, the festival takes a Spanish turn with distinguished dancer-choreographer Clarita Filgueiras and the group Flamenco Puro performing at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Take her foot-stomping flamenco workshop at 3 p.m.; experience not necessary.
Wednesday, it's "Stars and Stripes Forever: A Patriotic Muse." Sing along or just enjoy the old favorites performed by Constantine Grame and Lauren Weber at the Safford House.
The festival continues with Greek dance workshops, the musical Oliver!, chamber music, folk music, baroque on the bayou, a guitar workshop and more.
"We literally have something for everybody," Monahan said.
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