NEW PORT RICHEY
Mother Nature has been emoting an autumn feel, so what better time to take a walk in the woods or a float down the scenic Pithlachascotee River? Maybe stretch your body and mind with a free outdoor yoga class or get some direction on how to get that backyard winter vegetable garden started while enjoying a wearable art exhibit along with the rhythmic beat of a community drum circle and a plethora of talented local musicians.
Pasco EcoFest might be just the ticket to all that and more.
The third annual event will be Friday through Sunday at two local parks with a price tag meant to fit anyone's budget.
Yes, most everything is free.
EcoFest shines a light on sustaining the environment and the local community, with activities primarily held at two premiere locations — Sims Park and Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey.
In years past, the event was spread over multiple county parks.
But conserving gas is part of sustaining the environment, after all, and all that running from here to there can get a little hectic.
"We wanted to make it a little easier for people to get to everything they want to this year," said marketing director Lia Gallegos, who has seen the evolution of the environmental celebration since its inception three years ago.
After hearing feedback from some of last year's attendees, EcoFest organizers are expanding on the educational theme, hosting workshops and demonstrations (butterfly and container gardening, soil blocking, solar power, herb salves, green cleaning) and are also offering a few new twists to this year's list of events.
Sims Park in New Port Richey serves as the hub for those wanting to take in an urban agriculture workshop or try free yoga, belly dancing and hoop dancing classes. Throughout the weekend there will be opportunities to go on a kayak venture (for a rental fee) and shop local goods and foods at the Eco Market. Back by popular demand are a range of select culinary food trucks. New this year is Odessa's Big Storm Brewing Co.'s selling their locally brewed ale.
There will be plenty of games and art activities for the kids. Entertainment will feature a diverse lineup of musicians from the Tampa Bay area — Cosmic Radio, Kersey Williams, Variance, Ronny Elliot and Rebekah Pulley, just to name a few. New this year is the Local Volks Air-cooled VW Show & Swap Meet on Orange Lake, which is being held in conjunction with the annual Bug Jam held at the Pasco Fairgrounds in Dade City. Budding photographers and models can work on building their portfolios (for a fee) by photographing or modeling recycled, wearable costumes on Saturday in Peace Hall.
Nature adventurers wanting to take a stroll through the woods should head over to Jay B. Starkey Park. On the agenda there — bird watching, wetland walks, native and medicinal plant walks, hiking, educational talks and workshops and the ever popular geo-caching challenge. Those who go can camp out or hang out into the night come Friday to take in a little stargazing in nature's wooded cradle.
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.