Quick! Grab a felt-tip marker, go to your calendar and draw a big, black square around the month of March.
The border will be a symbolic reminder that you don't need to leave the borders of Pasco County in order to find entertainment, enlightenment and enjoyment, from a three-week celebration of our past to the beautiful March on Art show on the last weekend of the month.
This weekend begins the annual Chasco Fiesta in West Pasco _ and such a celebration it is: three solid weeks of events, activities and food, with several new happenings and some old favorites.
The fiesta was started in 1922 based on the legend of two white children adopted by a tribe of the long-extinct Calusa Indians around the year 1600. As the story goes, the white children grew up to be chosen king and queen of the tribe. The event has been marked by parades, a play based on the legend, record-breaking barbecues and the crowning of two community leaders as King Pithla and Queen Chasco. Over the years, a carnival, arts and crafts shows and participatory events such as volleyball, shuffleboard and bowling tournaments have been added.
Last year, a more serious event, the Chasco Rendezvous, was added. The rendezvous is are-creation of the trading meets between predominately French mountain men and various Indian tribes that took place from about 1835 to 1845, when animal furs were highly marketable in Europe. This year the event will be March 11-13 at Moon Lake Lodge.
Three educational, enlightening and fun events have been added to the agenda:
The annual Salt Springs Raid, a Civil War battle re-enactment loosely based on an actual event, has been moved from its traditional date in May to the closing weekend of Chasco, March 19 and 20. It's a chance to tour re-creations of typical Civil War encampments, see authentic Civil War-era military uniforms and women's clothing and witness typical battle strategies.
The Nature Festival will be held at Concourse Park off State Road 52 on Saturday and Sunday.
The Chasco Intertribal Pow Wow will be held on Trouble Creek Road Friday through Sunday (see map).
The powwow grounds open at 9 a.m. Friday. Between 500 and 600 American Indians from several nations, including Apache, Cherokee, Comanche, Creek (including Seminoles), Choctaw, Ojibwa and Aztec, are expected to attend. Admission is $2 a person; proceeds go to the Native American Children's Fund, Pasco County 4-H Cadets and the Withlacoochee Native American Indian Culture organization.
The campgrounds will have American Indian arts and crafts, several vendors of ethnic food and storytellers presenting Indian legends and beliefs.
At various times, there will be intertribal dancing competition featuring "fancy dancers" in huge feathers and furs, ribbon dancers whirling about as they tamp down the grass and several specialty dancers.
At 7 p.m. today, visiting American Indian dignitaries will lead a ceremony to signify the beginning of more dancing events. Similar ceremonies will be presented at 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Gates close at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Although other areas of the grounds will bow to modern conveniences, the dance arena is strictly authentic. The only exception is the presence of modern lighting, as a traditional bonfire would pose too many hazards in case of winds.
Head Man Dancer will be Blue Sau-Pa Pahdocony, who is Comanche; Head Lady Dancer will be Shanan Pa Pahdocony. Master of ceremonies will be Rick Byrd, who is Cherokee.
The featured dancer at the Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon ceremonies will be Arturo, an Aztec fire dancer, who places his hands and feet in fire.
If you go, take blankets and lawn chairs, as there is no stadium seating. Also take a camera. This is a photographer's dream. But leave Bud at home. One unbending rule: No alcohol is allowed.
The Nature Festival at the Concourse Park also will have Native American Indian artists. In addition, there will be a horticulture show and sale, an archery demonstration and display by the Aripeka Archers, and Florida folk music by Friends of Florida Folk and others. Admission is free, but there is a parking fee of $3.
Calendar of events: Page 9
Chasco Fiesta schedule
Call (813) 842-7651 for details
Today: Coronation Ball, Spartan Manor, 6:30 p.m. $65 a person.
March 4-6: Pow-Wow, First Baptist Church, Trouble Creek Road, 9 a.m. to dusk.
Saturday: Miss West Pasco Contest, River Ridge High School, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.
Softball Tournament, Mitchell Field, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Nature Festival, Concourse at State Road 52 and Hayes Road, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $3 parking fee.
Sunday: Volleyball Tournament, Holiday Recreation Complex, 1 p.m. to finish.
Health Fair, Sheraton Inn, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Shuffleboard Tournament, New Port Richey Shuffleboard Club, Grand Boulevard.
Wednesday: Chasco Expo, Sims Park, New Port Richey, 6 to 8 p.m.
March 10-19: Carnival, Towne Centre, Port Richey, times to be announced.
March 11-13: Mountain Man and Native American Rendezvous, Moon Lake Lodge, 9 a.m. to dusk. $2 admission.
March 11-13: West Pasco Sertoma Beef BBQ, corner Main and U.S. 19, New Port Richey, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
March 12: Indian Village, Sims Park, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Street parade, New Port Richey, 1 p.m.
March 12-19: Bowling Tournament, Lane Glo Lanes North, Lane Glo Bowl and Hudson Bowl.
March 13: Baby Contest, New Port Richey Recreation Center, 10:30 a.m.
March 14-16: West Pasco Kiwanis Flea Market/Snack Bar/ Antique Sale, New Port Richey Recreation Center, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
March 17: St. Patrick's Day Celebration under the tent, Main St. and U.S. 19, New Port Richey.
March 18: Sertoma Boxing, at Main Street and U.S. 19, New Port Richey, 7:30 p.m., $6 admission.
March 18-19: Indian Pageant, Band Shell, Sims Park, New Port Richey, 7:30 p.m.
March 18-20: Cotee River Lions Club Chicken BBQ, Sims Park, 5 to 9 p.m. March 18; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19 and 20.
March 19: Boat Parade, Cotee River, New Port Richey, 3:30 p.m.
Rotary Club Sports Card Expo & Comics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., American Legion Post No. 79 on Veterans Drive.
Concert in the Park, various groups, Sims Park, 1 to 4 p.m.
5K- and 1-mile Fun Run, New Port Richey Recreation Center, 8:30 a.m., $10 entry fee.
March 19-20: Craft Show, north of Sims Park tent, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 19; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 20.
Salt Springs Raid, First Baptist Church, Trouble Creek Road, 9 a.m. to dusk.
March 20: Stamp Show, New Port Richey Recreation Center, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.