Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest adds kids carnival to 2012 lineup

WEEKI WACHEE — It's endearing how small-town Florida communities like to celebrate the things they feel connect them best to the outside world.

Organizers of Ruskin's yearly vegetable festival think tomatoes are tops. At Plant City's annual fete, strawberries are superlative. And once a year, Dade City residents like to claim that their kumquats are king.

Then there's Hernando County's own Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest, which every March for the past 19 years has paid homage to uh, well, creepy things from the black lagoon.

Go figure.

Nevertheless, the community event attracts 10,000 or so visitors to soak in the laid-back community that annually crowns a winner of its "swamp monster" contest.

"We have a lot of fun with it every year," said festival chairman Roger Davidson. "It's all very family-oriented. We try to offer something that everyone can enjoy."

Swamp Fest began humbly in 1994, when the newly formed Weeki Wachee Area Club began looking for ways to raise money to complete its headquarters.

The club's membership turned to longtime resident Don Deedrick, who suggested staging a one-day flea market at the back of a local campground, with entertainment, arts and crafts, and food vendors.

Though that first event raised only a few hundred dollars, it was enough to get the building started. More important, it inspired the club to make the festival a yearly event that would benefit other area charities, including the Weeki Wachee Crime Watch and the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors.

"It's been a big help for the civic organizations in area that do so much for the residents who live here," Davidson said.

The community, in turn, has always stepped up to help. In fact, more than 200 volunteers assist throughout the weekend.

This year's festival, which kicks off at 4 p.m. today at Linda Pedersen Park, will feature a new twist. In addition to the traditional festival draws — food booths, arts and crafts, and entertainment — a special kids carnival will be set up outside the main gate all three days.

Saturday's event will feature the annual "swamp monster" contest at 10 a.m., followed by a full day of entertainment on the main stage.

Entertainment for Saturday and Sunday will include Annie and Friends, the Klassic Kountry Kloggers, Shazadi and the Jewels of the Desert belly dancers, Tami Sue, Eddie McConnell, Brent Byard, and the Weeki Wachee Wednesday Warriors.

According to Davidson, more than 140 food, crafts and other vendors will be on hand throughout the weekend, as well as representatives from more than a dozen community organizations.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]

Comments
NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

CHICAGO — Dana Loesch is the new public face of the National Rifle Association, an organization long associated with older white men. At 39, she’s poised, photogenic and a skilled public speaker, yet she’s not softening the message of the NRA as it b...
Updated: 5 minutes ago

Updated: 5 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

A hit-and-run crash has left a Tampa man dead, his female passenger in critical condition and law enforcement in search of the man who was driving the vehicle that struck them from behind.A Nissan Sentra was traveling north in the inside lane of U.S....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

TAMPA — Runners in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic know The Voice. Year after year, it comes back to them like home. They hear her before they see her as they head up or back on Bayshore Boulevard. The Voice makes them feel part of somet...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

A Bradenton man died on Interstate 75 in Sumter County on Sunday after falling through a hole that opened in the cabin of a recreational vehicle when it collided with a guardrail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, whose name was not im...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Meet the various people who take in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic race weekend, whether on the sidelines or pounding the pavement.Woman's best friendAt about the one hour, 45-minute mark of Saturday's 15K, an Australian shepherd wearing a se...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Riverview woman dies in Friday car crash

A woman died Friday when her car collided with another vehicle on U.S. 301 in Riverview, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Melanie Hoitt, 38, of Riverview was driving a Nissan Altima north on U.S. 301 approaching Southern Pointe Boulevard short...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

PLANT CITY — A man died Saturday night after he was stabbed inside his home by a neighbor, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Moses Wilson, 49, got into an argument with James Michael Meeks, 23, both of whom live at 4308 James L. R...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

WASHINGTON — A woman close to the man charged with killing 17 people at a Florida high school warned the FBI in chilling detail that he had a growing collection of guns and a temper so uncontrollable she worried about him "getting into a school and j...
Updated: 5 hours ago
3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Severe thunderstorms spawned suspected tornadoes and triggered widespread flooding that left at least three people dead in Kentucky and Arkansas. The system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian maritime provinces on Sunday ha...
Updated: 5 hours ago