Plan your weekend
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Its marking its 44th year, having grown from a little event amid the livestock area at the Florida State Fairgrounds to a downtown happening drawing an estimated 200,000 annually. More than 1,000 artists vie for one of the 300 spaces at the festival because it offers some of the largest cash awards on the festival circuit — $74,500 total with $15,000 for Best in Show. For families, Curtis Hixon Park has a playground and a river walk and the Tampa Museum of Art next door sets up a free arts and crafts area for kids. Next door is the Glazer Children's Museum. And really terrific is the Art Collectors in Training program. Gasparilla artists are asked (not required) to donate one or more small, inexpensive works that will be displayed in a tent. Kids 6 to 14 browse the art (no parents allowed) and may purchase one. Everything's priced at $5 or $10. The Art Collectors in Training area is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The festival is free.
Tampa Bay Beer Week There were loads of special parties, tastings, dinners and discussions for the third annual beer week, which kicks off this weekend and continues through March 9 at venues all over Tampa Bay. For details, see tampabaybeerweek.com. Cigar City Brewery holds the kickoff event featuring more than 10 Cigar City Beers on tap including a special firkin that will be tapped at 6 p.m. at the World of Beer in downtown St. Petersburg, 100 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-2337. 6 p.m. Saturday.
Florida Strawberry Festival It's through March 9, with lots of free shows and top headliners. The stars are the berries, and you can also find crafts, rides, livestock shows, pig races, parades a midway and lots of deep-fried wonders for the 10-day run. Admission is $10 for adults, children ages 6-12 $5; under 6 free. (813) 752-9194. Find special days and discounts at flstrawberryfestival.com. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with concerts at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Some performances of note: Friday is Colt Ford (7:30 p.m., $15-$20); Saturday brings Little Big Town (7:30, $40), Love and Theft (3:30, $15-$20) and Sunday brings Rascal Flatts (7:30, $55) and Thompson Square (3:30, $25).
Whoopi Goldberg She's the EGOT holder (Emmys for The View and Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel; a Grammy for her comedy album; an Oscar for Ghost; and a Tony as producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie.) You can check out Goldberg's standup comedy Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. A $150 dinner package includes a premium seat, a preshow dinner and a voucher for free valet parking. Other tickets range from $59 to $125. Show starts at 8 p.m. at 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush The Florida Orchestra performs a "live soundtrack" to the classic 1925 Charlie Chaplin film The Gold Rush this weekend, and it's trickier than it may appear. The timing has to be just right, and the score was composed by Chaplin himself. It's a challenge the Florida Orchestra will tackle when it plays along with Chaplin's film Friday at the Tampa Theatre and Saturday at the Palladium. Friday, 8 p.m. at the Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa; and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $35; (727) 892-3337, floridaorchestra.org.
Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour The Food Network star takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Straz Center in Tampa and 7 p.m. Sunday at Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota. It's not exactly Good Eats on the road, even though there's a bit of science, some standup comedy and a whole lot of food included. Expect music (he writes lyrics). Tickets for the Tampa show start at $40 and can be purchased at strazcenter.org. Ticket prices start at $40 for the Sarasota show, too. For information, go to vanwezel.org.
Trentino It looks like Florida's "winter" has finally gone to rest, so that means beach season is finally open. Shephard's is ready, inviting Chicago producer Trentino to reignite its Sunday beach parties, which start at 1 p.m., alongside Orlando's DJ A-Rock. Last spring, Trentino defeated A-Rock to become the U.S. champion of Red Bull Thr3estyle, a DJs competition of technical skill, originality and ability to work a crowd. You can bet summer bikinis and boardshorts will get broken out for this one. Trentino with DJ A-Rock goes on at 5 p.m. Sunday at Shephard's Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. $5-$10. (727) 441-6875.