DADE CITY — The 53rd-annual Rattlesnake Festival gets underway this weekend at the Pasco County Fairgrounds.
The festival, traditionally held the third weekend of October, promises to be bigger than ever, according Joe Simmons, executive director of the Thomas Promise Foundation that hosts the event.
Those who go can expect all the regular offerings — crocodile, rattlesnake and wildlife presentations, Cowboy Tom’s Wild West Show and the wooden gopher tortoise races held as a memorial to Eddie Hermann, one of the event’s founders.
After a long absence, the home-grown and nationally known Bellany Brothers will perform a prelude concert on Friday evening.
Performing Saturday evening at the Rattlesnake Festival After Dark event will be the Seventeenth Street Band and River Junction. There also will be access to midway rides, food and beer. Tickets for that are $10 at the gate.
New to the Rattlesnake Festival entertainment schedule are live bears from Bearadise Ranch, soccer games with Soccer Collies and an interactive water venture with the mobile unit from Crystal Springs Preserve.
There will be plenty to keep the kids busy — carnival rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses and a pumpkin patch.
Some 100 vendors will offer hand-made crafts and sundries in the Arts and Crafts Village.
Sunday special events include a dance and theater exhibition in the Dan Cannon Auditorium and a Subaru Off-Road event.
The 41st-annual Rattlesnake Run will be at 8 a.m. Oct. 19. There also will be a dog-friendly, 1-mile fun run and a 5-mile run.
Proceeds benefit the Thomas Promise Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides food over the weekends for students in need. The Foundation serves 27 Pasco County schools.
If you go: The 53rd-annual Rattlesnake Festival will be held Oct. 18-20 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City. $5 general admission; free for children 2 and under. Fair ride armbands are $15 for all-day access. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Rattlesnake After Dark tickets are $10 at the gate.
For tickets to the Bellamy Brothers concert on Oct. 18, go to eventbrite.com/e/rattlesnake-festival-presents-the-bellamy-brothers-tickets-57445643466. For information, go to www.rattlesnakefestival.com or call (813) 782-0000.