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Plan your weekend: MacDill Airfest, Cirque du Soleil meets 'Avatar' and the river turns green

The Floridian restaurant owner Harold Seltzer holds a tray of award-winning historic Tampa Cuban sandwiches. The restaurant is the defending champion in the “Historic” category of the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival, which will be held this weekend.
Photo courtesy 
of Scott Purks

The Floridian restaurant owner Harold Seltzer holds a tray of award-winning historic Tampa Cuban sandwiches. The restaurant is the defending champion in the “Historic” category of the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival, which will be held this weekend. Photo courtesy of Scott Purks

Plan your weekend

Sky high

MacDill Airfest After a year off, MacDill Air Force Base this weekend hosts Airfest, the free on-base event that attracts hundreds of thousands. Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with aerial shows starting at 11 a.m. The crowds are usually massive, so expect traffic at the base, 8208 Hangar Loop Drive. Event is free, but premium seats are $25-$125 at macdill.af.mil/airfest2016.

Food

Cuban Sandwich Festival: Who makes the best Cuban sandwich? Those are fighting words. Taste the contenders at the Cuban Sandwich Festival over two days in Ybor City, starting with Saturday's feast at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor City Campus. City officials and local celebrities will try to set a record for the world's biggest Cuban, aiming for 110 feet of ham, salami, Cuban pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. That runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at 2112 N 15th St., Tampa. The festivities shift to Centennial Park on Sunday for an International Smackdown with contenders from across the state, the nation and the world gathered to compete for the 2016 bragging rights. Free admission, and food and drink proceeds benefit local charities. It runs 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Tampa.

Stage

Cirque du Soleil meets Avatar: Toruk: — The First Flight got a creative assist from James Cameron, the director of Avatar; and it's billed as a prequel to that movie. The story, set in Pandora, starts thousands of years before the events in Avatar. Two humanlike boys, Ralu and Entu, must climb the floating mountains and overcome a mighty predator in order to save the Tree of Souls. The entire arena becomes part of the set, with 40 projectors creating starry skies, massive waves and deep jungles. Toruk starts today and runs through Sunday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets start at $40. (813) 301-6500. amaliearena.com.

St. Patrick's Day

River O'Green Fest: Even though today is the official St. Patrick's Day, the party continues this weekend when the Hillsborough River will be dyed bright green on Saturday at the Mayor's River O'Green Fest in Curtis Hixon Park. The family-friendly party starts at 10:30 a.m. and will feature Irish entertainment, food, games and a children's area.

Benefits

Fight for Air Climb Actor Tim Daly (Madam Secretary, Wings) will join the Fight for Air Climb fundraiser for the American Lung Association in Tampa on Saturday when racers climb the stairs to the 42nd floor of Tampa's tallest building, the Bank of America Plaza. Daly got into climbs after his mother was hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia, and he joined the Who Pneu? campaign to raise awareness. At the end of the public climb, which starts at 8 a.m., firefighters will do the climb in full gear. Registration is $35, with a minimum of $100 in donations at fightforairclimb.org.

Pets

Bark in the Park: Leash your dog for a 1-mile walk along Riverwalk that will happen rain or shine Saturday. With more than 70 vendors, food trucks, pet costume contest, a dog fun zone, face painting, balloons, live music, craft beer and wine. Benefits the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. $20, free if you form a "pack" and help raise funds. Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., Tampa. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Festival

Bay Area Renaissance Festival: It's time for one last "Huzzah!" as we say fare thee well to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, for the end is near. The closing weekend of the 38th annual festival brings a "Barbarian Brew Fest," including a beard competition, craft beer and food pairings, an archery championship, barbarian market, wine and beer tastings. Admission is $17.95-$20.95; $9.95-$12.95 day for ages 5-12; $10 dogs. Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Toll-free 1-800-966-8215. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Take the kids

Country in the Park: Pinellas Park's annual festival in England Brothers Park will have a carnival and loads of free activities, not the least of which is a free concert by country star Crystal Gayle (Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue) on Saturday. The Pinellas Park Firefighters' annual Chili Blaze cook-off is 6-11 p.m. Friday with $10 tasting tickets, but the rest is free Thursday to Sunday at 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park.

Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway: The Woody Allen-penned musical about a young playwright getting his first play financed by a gangster arrives Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The story is set in 1928. The playwright is forced to cast his untalented girlfriend as the lead. Look for former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Michael Clayton in a walk-on role. Bullets Over Broadway starts at 4 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets start at $35. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

Concert

DJ Jazzy Jeff: We are still waiting on details on that promised 2016 tour with the Fresh Prince. In October, Will Smith told Beats 1's Zane Lowe he was "pretty certain" he'd be hitting the road with Jazz this summer. Until then, we've got DJ Jazzy Jeff to shake the room at Shephard's Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. Unlike Smith, Jeffrey Allen Townes has been touring constantly since his Summertime days, and he's in demand across the industry — he even provided some scratching for the score to Straight Outta Compton. As Saturday night beach parties go, this one's hard to beat. Advance tickets are $10 and up. (727) 442-5107. shephards.com.

Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

Plan your weekend: MacDill Airfest, Cirque du Soleil meets 'Avatar' and the river turns green 03/16/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:29pm]
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