NEW PORT RICHEY — Boats, seafood, mermaids and music will be among the highlights as the 17th annual Cotee River Seafest gets under way Friday for a three-day run in and around newly renovated Sims Park.
The festival, presented by Bright House Networks and New Port Richey Main Street, offers something for all in a somewhat different setting, said Judy DeBella Thomas, the event's coordinator. "With the new layout of the park, we're kind of excited with how everything is placed this year," Thomas said.
Central to the event is the boat and watercraft show, featuring about 40 vessels on display alongside the Pithlachascotee River, where folks can also hop aboard the Miss Daisy for a river ride.
For landlubbers and art lovers, there's a rambling arts and crafts show that will start at the park entrance and wind alongside the newly placed walkways. Pasco Camera Exchange will display entries submitted in its annual photography contest, with winners to be announced Saturday. The West Pasco Art Guild will host an "Only Natural" art exhibit in Peace Hall, adjacent to the new playground area.
Following along the marine theme will be presentations by Capt. William Mayhem, a pirate/magician/storyteller from St. Augustine and commander of his traveling museum. Back by popular demand will be the Weeki Wachee mermaids.
Hurricane Expo 2016, presented by the Pasco County Office of Emergency Management, will take place Saturday for those wanting information and resources on how to prepare for hurricane season.
Special activities Sunday will include a classic car show, the Cardboard Boat Regatta Race and "Ducktona," the annual rubber duck race to raise funds for A.F.I.R.E. of Pasco County, a nonprofit organization that serves developmentally disabled adults.
There will be no shortage of activities to keep kids busy. Participants should wear appropriate attire, including sneakers, for the rock-climbing wall and "water wear" for a new activity called Water Wars and the new splash pad alongside Orange Lake.
As for music, the Greg Billings Band will headline the Friday night concert. Also featured will be local talent SPF 40 and the Bob Hope Band, offering classic rock with a bit of an edge. Saturday and Sunday promise to be a treat for blues lovers.
Saturday's lineup includes national touring artist Chris Duarte, who will bring his eclectic version of Texas blues to Florida. Also playing will be local blues bands Troy Youngblood and the Soulfish, Shawline and the Lauren Mitchell Band.
Sunday will feature longtime favorite Sarasota Slim and the rising Betty Fox Band, named Best of the Bay and International Blues Challenge finalists for 2015.
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] or at (727) 869-6251. Follow @MicheleMiller52.