DADE CITY — This weekend, the 28th annual, Marvel comic-themed, Florida Bug Jam will include a parade and a concert. But the highlight is what else visitors will see.
"Volkswagens everywhere," said Bug Jam promoter Randy Yoho.
In fact, Yoho said, the Bug Jam is one of the largest Volkswagen car shows in the country — and it keeps growing.
Last year about 10,000 lovers of the German automaker showed up from as far away as Japan and Germany....
BROOKSVILLE — Live Oak Theatre Company's first production of the 2016-17 season fuses a familiar story with an original twist — and that was Randi Olsen's goal.
As the theater's volunteer artistic director, Olsen chooses the shows for each season.
"I wanted to highlight classic stories that we all grew up with, stories that are family friendly and have some sort of lesson in them," Olsen said....
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando Historical Museum has a treat for folks who like a good fright: This year, its annual Haunted House and Fall Festival will be held over two weekends instead of one.
The expansion is the result of the festival's increasing popularity, which organizer Amanda Mullen attributes to one factor: The building that houses the attraction is believed to be haunted.
Last year, the event, which is the museum's largest fundraiser, drew about 2,000 people — some from as far away as Sarasota....
DADE CITY — The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village has planned an occasion for families to celebrate fall's recent arrival: the annual Scarecrow Festival.
This year's festival, which will take place Saturday at the museum, is the 12th in Dade City and the third at the museum, according to Stephanie Black, the museum's executive director. It will feature attractions that cater to kids. But adults, she said, can have plenty of fun, too....
ZEPHYRHILLS — Iris Ivanac values healthy, fresh food, but she also values flavor. So last year she opened Terra, a family-owned and operated restaurant that fuses them.
"We're trying to promote a healthy lifestyle — a healthy lifestyle that does not compromise taste," said Ivanac, 33.
She has owned and operated restaurants all her life, as the daughter of restaurant owners. Prior to Terra, she owned a Zephyrhills pizza parlor. But her brother's health inspired the fare at Terra, which opened in December....
HUDSON — As a child, Alex Mullore enjoyed a frequent treat: ice cream.
"I grew up in Tampa, and my father used to take me to Bo's Ice Cream at least once a week," said Mullore, 42. "And for good grades, ice cream was the reward."
Now, Mullore provides a comparable experience from behind the scenes, as owner of Hudson Beach Ice Cream.
In 2007, after Hudson Beach Ice Cream's original owners put the parlor up for sale, Mullore happened to seek a business — "something fun that I could do with my kids," he said....
ODESSA — The Bradley family's business is built on what Sue Bradley says everybody likes: bargains.
"When you get a $200 item, and you're only going to spend $120 on it, why wouldn't you?" said Bradley, 57, whose west Pasco store, Bargain Warehouse Outlet, provides patrons with opportunities to do just that.
The business opened in April. She owns and runs it with her husband, Van Bradley, 69, and his daughter, Christine Walker, 43, who is the store's managing partner....
DADE CITY — In 2010, Curtis and Rebecca Beebe opened a restaurant out in the countryside of east Pasco called Pearl in the Grove. Previously, Curtis had worked in information technology. Rebecca was a schoolteacher.
Both were terrified.
Starting the business was an unfamiliar venture, said Curtis, 53, but "failure was not an option."
As it turned out, it wouldn't need to be. Touting locally sourced food, Pearl flourished and became one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in the Tampa Bay area....
PORT RICHEY — When Nate Bryant, a Navy veteran, opened a home brewing supply store, Donn Daniels, an Army veteran, was his second customer.
Daniels, 34, bought the supplies to brew his own beer, and Bryant, also 34, expressed an interest in brewing.
He couldn't do it at the store, he said, because his only source of water was a sink.
But Daniels, who became a regular customer, pitched an idea: Together they could move the shop and turn it into a brewery....
WESLEY CHAPEL — In high school, Dana Morris flew to France as an exchange student, and fell in love.
That is, "with European pastries, and bakeries, and coffee," she said.
It became the basis for her new donut shop, Buttermilk Provisions.
Morris took culinary courses in France but studied accounting instead in college and worked after that as an accountant for a private club that had a pastry chef....
WESLEY CHAPEL — David Osterweil is a husband and a dad, a CEO and a marathoner. That means he has felt like a lot of people do: too busy to prepare healthy meals.
But he has a solution: Fitlife Foods, which opened its first Pasco location this month.
The store is "for success-minded people who value their health, value their time and, most importantly, value great flavor," said Osterweil, 38, who founded Fitlife....
At 3:45 on a recent weekday afternoon, a walk through Gulf View Square mall was mostly quiet.
"To put it in perspective, I went to Countryside (mall in Clearwater)," said Steve Baginskie, who owns Yancy Street Comics, a comic shop at Gulf View Square. "They were as busy on a Monday as this mall is on a Saturday."
But despite smaller crowds and recent defections of stores, Baginskie and other Gulf View tenants say all is not lost. And they still have hope for the 36-year-old mall's future....
DADE CITY — Eight years ago, Debbie Pettis read a newspaper article about an alpaca farm.
"I had never heard of the animal," Pettis said.
Alpacas, she learned, are of the camelid family — cousins to llamas. And they're strange looking, thought Pettis, who works part time for a global consulting firm. But she took an interest. So she called the farm she read about and scheduled a tour....
WESLEY CHAPEL — Monica Obando is an apitherapist and a beekeeper. So she respects what other people fear: bees.
She and her husband, Juan Obando; her sister, Jenny Castro, and her mother, Maria Leguizamon own enough bees to have started a business: Santa Monica Florida, which harvests and sells raw honey.
The venture began in 2011, when Monica Obando, 42, suffered from arthritis. Her husband had heard about apitherapy, the use of what bees produce, such as venom, to help alleviate pain caused by various illnesses. So they took a class in it....
NEW PORT RICHEY — When others see an old piece of furniture, Jenny Barker, who owns a downtown shop called Vintage Chickabees, sees an opportunity.
"I upcycle it," she said — she uses chalk-based paint and wax to refurbish wooden tables and chairs and dressers that otherwise might be discarded.
The art projects started when Barker, 38, a widow and mother of four, was a gymnastics instructor. She wanted to earn additional income. So she attended workshops where she learned techniques for restoring old furniture — she had a lot of it, she said....