TIME TRAVEL: Jurassic Quest
The traveling dinosaur exhibit Jurassic Quest makes its first stop in Tampa this weekend, bringing 80 life-size animatronic dinosaurs to the Florida State Fairgrounds. Kids can channel Indiana Jones at stations where they excavate fossils and even create their own fossil cast to take home. There are also rides and a display of real fossils to sneak in some education. One of the new features is the huge Spinosaurus, considered by paleontologists to be the largest dino at 50 feet long. A walking schedule starts at 10:30 a.m., in which several adolescent dinosaurs take a walk around Jurassic Quest for half an hour and you can pet them. $20, $18 seniors/military, $15 ages 2-12. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (936) 588-3332. 3-8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. jurassicquest.com.
FEATHERED FRIENDS: Florida Birding and Nature Festival
Nature lovers of a certain feather flock together this weekend for the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, bringing more than 25 seminars and field trips for bird and butterfly enthusiasts, photographers and nature lovers. There will be talks on alligators, butterflies, dragonflies, native plants and the ethics of nature photography. One of the most anticipated speakers on Saturday will be Carlton Ward Jr., the renowned photographer for Audubon, the Smithsonian and National Geographic as well as founder of the Florida Wildlife Corridor campaign. He said in a festival news release that he's happy to make the link that \wildlife corridors "are equally as important for the movements of birds like red-cockaded woodpeckers and swallow-tailed kites as they are for bears and panthers." It's $75 for Friday and Saturday programs or $40 per day; ages 12 and younger free. Field trips are extra and vary in cost. Saturday will feature a Kid's Zone. It runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Opening night social is at 6 p.m. Thursday. (813) 641-5632. Register at floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org and on site at Hillsborough Community College, South Shore campus, 551 24th St. NE, Ruskin.
CENTER RING: Ringling International Arts Festival
The four-day Ringling International Arts Festival, which begins Thursday, is known for its high-quality acts and affordable prices for music, dance, theater and acrobatics. It kicks off with a party in the Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard, with a live Afro-Cuban band ($80, $72 members). The weekend brings a range of acts presented in three theaters within walking distance of each other. Lunch and dinner are available on site. A performance ticket includes free admission to the Ringling Museum of Art and the Circus Museum and After-Hours Jazz shows Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m., so you can make a day of it. Some of the highlights include Gravity & Other Myths, a circus troupe from Australia performing acrobatics amidst the Ringling's historic circus wagons, and Eighth Blackbird, right, a Grammy-winning sextet that combines chamber music, the energy of a rock band "and the audacity of a storefront theater company." And LMnO3, a trio of dancers, will perform B.A.N.G.S: Made in America, a piece that uses rap, body percussion and game show tactics to examine female friendships. Tickets to all performances are $30-$35 for general admission and $27-$31.50 for Ringling members. (941) 359-5700. ringling.org.