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WINTER EQUESTRIAN FESTIVAL

WHAT: The opening segment of the 10-week annual show jumping event featuring top athletes from the United States, Canada and Europe.

WHEN: The festival opens Wednesday at the Florida State Fairgrounds and continues every Wednesday through Sunday until April 1. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Budweiser American Invitational, one of the nation's premier equestrian events, is at 7 p.m. March 31.

WHERE: All events except the Budweiser Invitational take place at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The Invitational will be at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

TICKETS: Admission to the festival is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors Wednesday through Friday; $6 for adults and $4 for students and seniors Saturday and Sunday. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets to the Invitational are $15, $25 and $50 for a family four-pack. The day of the event, four-pack tickets are $20, $30 and $60. Contact Ticketmaster (813) 287-8844, (727) 898-2100 or at ticketmaster.com.

NOTES: Grand prix competitions include the Grand Prix of Tampa, the final qualifier for the Invitational, at 2 p.m. Sunday, the WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday and the Ariat WEF Challenge Cup on March 29. For Challenge Cup starting times, call Stadium Jumping at (813) 253-2782. Activities include amateur riders from children to adults in hunter, jumper and equitation events, as well as nationally and internationally ranked professionals in grand prix competitions. More than 1,000 horses and 400 riders will be at the fairgrounds. Visitors can watch training and warm-up exercises and shop at outdoor vendors offering horse-related wares ranging from fine jewelry to T-shirts.

_ Compiled by Christina K. Cosdon.

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