Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time for Dade City's Annual Kumquat Festival

If you’ve always wanted to try the tiny citrus fruit called a kumquat, now is your chance. The Greater Dade City
Chamber of Commerce
will host the 12th Annual Kumquat Festival in downtown Dade City on Saturday, Jan. 31.

The event celebrates the harvest of kumquats, a sweet and sour fruit that can be eaten skin and all but tastes best as part of a yummy kumquat pie. The festival is held in the heart of Dade City’s historic downtown and includes more than 200 arts and craft booths, live entertainment, a farmer’s market, wagon rides, antique fire trucks, a car and truck show, beauty contest and recipe contest.

For a full schedule of events, visit the festival site at
http://www.kumquatfestival.org/ or call the chamber at 352‐567‐3769. For a complete list of kumquat recipes, including kumquat pie and ice cream, visit www.kumquatgrowers.com/recipes.html

Also, if you are planning to attend the event, be sure to check out the great event rates at Hampton Inn Dade City.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pasco Hosts Powerman Florida in San Antonio

It was a great day to run, bike and run some more through the hills of San Antonio on Saturday. More than 200 top athletes from around the United States and Canada and as far away as Denmark and South Africa participated in Powerman Florida, the sole qualifying event in Florida for the 2009 World Championship in Switzerland. Powerman returns to Florida after a hiatus of more than a decade. The event was co-sponsored by the Pasco County Sports Commission, Florida Sports Foundation and Exclusive Sports Marketing. Powerman is a grueling competition known as a duathlon: 8K (5 mile) run followed by a 53K (33 mile) bike race and another 8K (5 mile) run. The event also included a shorter Powerman Sprint, which covered half the distance of the main event.
Professional athletes were among the weekend competitors, including five-time Ironman champion Heather Gollnick, Powerman Malaysia champion Jason Spong and the reigning US Elite National Duathlon Champion, Anne Curi Preisig. To learn more about Powerman, visit http://www.powermanflorida.com/

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Skydivers jump for Thanksgiving Boogie

More than 380 jumpers from 19 countries came to Zephyrhills last week for Sky Dive City's annual Thanksgiving Skydive Boogie. Although the numbers were down a bit this year, jumpers completed more than 4,000 successful skydives, according to manager T.K. Hayes. Skydive City is one of the world's premier drop zones and the Thanksgiving event has been going on for 40 years. Check out the full story at Zephyrhills News or find out more at the Skydive City site.
(photo courtesy of Zephyrhills News)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend Packed with Adventure

Not in the mood for the usual round of Thanksgiving Day parades and football? Want a little more action in your holiday weekend? Well, Thanksgiving is an action-packed time of year in Pasco County. Would you believe this area will host a sky diving extravaganza, cricket tournament, foxhunt AND an appearance by a NASCAR favorite all in one weekend? Check out the details below and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

The Thanksgiving Sky Dive Boogie & Turkey Meet is a high-altitude tradition at Sky Dive City in Zephyrhills. Hundreds of the best jumpers from around the world come to east Pasco to compete for fun, prizes and the admiration of fellow jumpers. Spectators can enjoy the thrill of eight, ten and 16-man jump competitions, plus a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. The boogie actually started last week and continues through Sunday.

If race cars are more your style than jumping out of airplanes, consider the David Reutimann 4th Annual Charity Golf Tournament & Auction at Silverado Golf & Country Club in Zephyrhills. Reutimann is a Zephyrhills native and NASCAR favorite who hosts a cookout and auction of NASCAR and other sports team memorabilia to benefit a variety of Florida charities. The cookout and auction is Friday and the golf tournament is Saturday. For more information, call 813-788-1225.

Cricket is not a sport you hear too much about in the Tampa Bay area. But that could change as the Wesley Chapel Cricket Club has been generated a lot of buzz for the sport in recent months. The club will host its first Tampa Bay Thanksgiving Cricket Festival on Saturday and Sunday at Wesley Chapel District Park. Not sure what this bat-and-ball-style game is all about? Check out these articles on the club that appeared recently in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune. Get full details on this weekend's tournament at the cricket club website or call 813-994-8481.

Finally, we might have to root for the fox in this one but a new event to this area is the opening meet of the South Creek Foxhounds at Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City on Saturday. South Creek Foxhounds is the oldest foxhunt in Florida and the sport itself dates back to the early 1800s in Great Britain and Canada. In today's version of the hunt, according to the club's website, the fox is not killed. Whew. For information on the club or this weekend's hunt, visit the club website.

Whether you make it to any of these events or not, you can stay on top of all the events in Pasco County throughout the year at our online Events Calendar and Sports Calendar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Farmer's Market & Book Signings This Weekend

With cooler weather finally arriving, organizers of the successful Downtown Farmer's Market in New Port Richey are planning for even more vendors and cool activities this weekend.

In addition to the usual fresh produce, plants, herbs and teas, two local authors will sign their recently published works: Adam Carozza, author of Images of America - New Port Richey and Jim Rathbone, author of There's a Pirate in the Family. Also for sale will be Florida's Monuments & Memorials, a book that includes two New Port Richey sites, the George Sims Monument and the city's colorful downtown murals. For kids who wish to make their own Christmas gifts while their parents shop, a local church will offer arts and crafts activities.

Starting this weekend, the Saturday Farmer's Market moves to a new location, the newly renovated Railroad Square on Nebraska Avenue east of Grand Boulevard.

"The city did such a wonderful job beautifying Nebraska Avenue with Railroad Square, it made sense to put it to use,'' said Judy DeBella Thomas, executive director of Greater New Port Richey Main Street, which organizes the market.

For information on other downtown New Port Richey events, visit the Main Street website or call 727-842-8066. You can also check out the Pasco Tourism website and our Calendar of Events.

Have a comment about Pasco Tourism or a suggestion for Adventures of Pasco Tourist? Click the "Comments" link.

Monday, November 10, 2008

VW Bugs Fill Pasco County Fairgrounds

There were bugs of every shape, size and color at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City this weekend. Not the creepy, crawly kind - the cool and fun Volkswagen kind! Organizers estimate there were nearly 500 VW bugs, campers, dunebuggies and buses exhibiting at the 20th Annual Pasco Bug Jam, one of the largest shows of its kind in the U.S. Visitors came from all over the country and as far away as the UK and Canada. It was a beautiful day and a fun event. Plus, all proceeds benefit All Children's Hospital. Cans of food were also collected for the Suncoast Harvest Food Bank. Check out these great photos from Pasco County's Kevin Jadick. To learn more about the Bug Jam, visit www.pascobugjam.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bug Jam Rolls Into Dade City This Weekend

If you have never seen 400 Volkswagen bugs of every color gathered in one place, you can do exactly that this weekend in Dade City. Rumored to be the largest gathering of VW enthusiasts in the Southeast, the Pasco Bug Jam roars into town on Sunday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. More than 400 vintage and new Volkswagens will be on display, along with VW collectibles, a swap meet, auction, games and live entertainment. Awards will be presented in multiple categories including Best Engine, Best Paint and Best Interior. They will even recognize the vehicle driven the farthest to participate in the show. Admission is $5 plus one can of food for the Suncoast Harvest Food Bank. For more information, visit www.pascobugjam.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Find Unique, Independent Shops at Local Shopper Site

If you're visiting Pasco County for the first time, you'd probably rather check out the unique, local shops around town than hit the same big-box stores you could find back home. If that's the case, then do we have a hot new site for you! Check out the Local Shopper at www.localshops1.com and you'll find plenty of locally-owned, indepdent shops in Pasco County and throughout the Tampa Bay area. It's free to browse and free to get listed so if you know of a great mom 'n pop shop or chic, indie boutique, send a note to shoplocally1@gmail.com and spread the local love!

We recently found a whole bunch of great new shops to check out, including a place that specializes in used records - remember those? Tunes, Tales and Treasures in Hudson also has turntables (gasp!) and a huge selection of used books, videos, DVDs and CDs. But that's just one of more than 500 shops listed on the site - everything from art, clothes and jewelry to tools, outdoor gear, flowers and more. In addition to browsing for new shops, you can post your comments on a local shopper's forum, sign up for contests and events and check out a wide range of locally-owned online shops. During these uncertain economic times, it's important to support the unique, local shops that make this area so special. Happy shopping!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saddlebrook Receives Green Lodging Designation

Congratulations to Saddlebrook Resort, which was formally designated a Florida Green Lodging property this week. For all you green travelers out there, this means Saddlebrook meets strict requirements set by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for environmentally sound practices, including recycling in guest rooms, use of low-flow showers and toilets and linen reuse programs.
Saddlebrook is the second Pasco property to receive the Green Lodging designation and we are hoping many more will follow that lead. (The first was back in July when the recently opened Residence Inn Northpointe, located at the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54 in Lutz, was designated as a Green Lodging site by the state.)

To find out more about Saddlebrook's commitment to the environment, click here.

To learn more about the state's Green Lodging initiative, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Train Museum Now Open in Dade City

If you are a train buff, a history buff or just looking for a fun day trip, check out the new Train Depot Museum in historic downtown Dade City. Operated by the Dade City Trolley Tour, the museum features an elaborate model train display, a real working train signal and tons of memorabilia from the early days of the railroads in Florida. Be sure to catch the excellent short film on the history of railroads, "A Tale of Two Henrys," on the lives of Henry Flagler and Henry Plant. Kids will enjoy ringing a real locomotive bell from the Savannah Central Railroad and seeing the lifelike "travelers" and train depot personnel stationed throughout the site. The depot was built in 1912 and until recently was a stop on the Amtrak line.

Visitors can come directly to the museum, located at Meridian Avenue and the US 98 bypass, or take the downtown trolley, which stops at the museum. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for children ages five to 12 and children four and under are free with paid adult admission. For tour information, visit the Trolley Tour website at www.dadecitytrolleytour.com. And stay tuned for details on the museum's official grand opening later this fall!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Shots from Sky Dive City

Check out this amazing photo from Skydive City's recent Tandem Jump Photo Contest. Kind of makes you want to jump out of a plane and see the sights for yourself, doesn't it?

If you aren't quite that adventurous, you can at least view a number of great photos at the drop zone's online photo gallery. And if you are getting ready to take the plunge, you can see how it's done by checking out one of the site's cool online videos.
Skydive City is one of the world's premiere skydiving centers and they draw jumpers and students from around the world. In business since 1989, Skydive City is carrying on the long tradition of high quality skydiving, training and fun that has been in Zephyrhills since the 1960's. Check them out at http://www.skydivecity.com/

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Enjoy Music & Wine at Saturday Market

The Saturday Festival & Market at Florida Estates Winery in Land O' Lakes is a great way to kick back, relax and enjoy great wine and music in a cozy atmosphere. Tucked under a canopy of oak trees, the winery sits in the middle of a 3,600-acre plantation and features a variety of locally-produced wines, as well as some made from grapes grown in the mountains of Chile.

The Saturday markets are free and include wine tasting and a variety of fresh produce, breads, cheeses and sauces, as well as plants, jewelry, orchids, pottery and other artwork. This weekend, Angelo Cook will entertain festivalgoers with light and classic rock.

The winery is located four miles west of I-75 off State Road 52. The Saturday Festival & Market is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The winery is open daily for tastings and tours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The winery also offers classes and is available for group tours and weddings. Sign up for their free newsletter or call call 813-996-2113.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Great Deals in Downtown Dade City

Looking for a good day trip for friends or family this weekend? Consider stopping by Downtown Dade City Main Street's Christmas in July event, which will feature sales and specials at these and other stores during their normal business hours Saturday.

Ivy Cottage Antiques & Wine Merchant will have a wine tasting from 2 to 4 p.m. and take 20 percent off purchases of more than $20.
Antiques on the Mainstreet will serve cheese and crackers from 2 to 4 p.m. and give a 20 percent discount for purchases of more than $20.
Lori Anne's will mark its 11th year in business by extending an 11 percent discount on nonsale items, plus 10 percent on regular-priced merchandise hanging on the walls.
The Picket Fence will celebrate its 13th anniversary by offering a 13 percent discount on all merchandise.
Church Street Shoppe is in its 15th year, so it will take 15 percent off nonsale items and 40 percent on large Christmas flags.
Kumquat Kuriosities is having a summer art sale with a 15 percent discount.
Four-Alarm Tan's grand opening will feature a cruise giveaway Friday and Saturday, plus free samples and snacks, and discounts on tanning packages.
Beef O' Brady's will host a "Thank You East Pasco" party starting at 5 p.m. outdoors featuring live music and giveaways.
Heavenly Treasures is offering a 10 percent discount on any itemin the gift shop; complimentary cup of Christmas tea; and other Christmas goodies. Join Miss Laurie (Mrs. Claus) and her staff of Elves in the dining room for a delicious lunch and a slice
The Green Apple is offering buy 1 pound, get one free on Boar's Head deli meats and cheeses. Limit one offer per customer.
The Coffee Mug Café will offer buy one, get one half off summer drinks.
Grapevine Antiques will offer 20 percent off all merchandise.
For more information, call Dade City Main Street Inc. at (352) 567-0284.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dade City Trolley Finalist for Top Award

Congratulations to the Dade City Trolley Tour, which was named a finalist this week for the prestigious Flagler Award, given out each year by Visit Florida at the Governor's Conference on Tourism. The award recognizes members of the tourism industry for unique and creative marketing campaigns and promotions, including special events, television spots, radio ads, print materials and websites.

The Trolley Tour was nominated for a very cool television commercial that was created last year by two students from the University of Tampa. You can view the 30-second clip at You Tube. The official announcement can be seen on the Visit Florida website.

Have a comment about Pasco Tourism or a suggestion for Adventures of a Pasco Tourist? Click on the comment link below and share your thoughts!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Walk on the Wild Side - in Dade City?

If you are looking for an exotic adventure close to home, consider a day trip to the wildlife sanctuary at Dade City's Wild Things Zoo. Just a 30-minute drive north of Tampa, the lush, 22-acre site is home to dozens of species of animals, including some that have been abandoned or neglected by their previous owners and many species that are endangered or threatened. One of the best things about Dade City's Wild Things is how close visitors can get to the amazing creatures that live there, including Bengal tigers, African lions, Florida panthers and North American black bear. Some people find it hard to see any wild animal confined to a cage but because the setting is so natural and the animals have space to roam, skeptics are often reassured by what they find. (To learn more about how some of the animals came to the zoo, click here. To adopt one of the animals and help pay for its care and feeding, click here.)

The zoo is an outgrowth of Stearns Zoological Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, a non-profit sancturary that provides lifetime care for rescued animals.
Kathy Stearns, the owner of the center, decided to open the site to the public for tours in September 2007. She also opened a zoo-themed gift shop in downtown Dade City that sells jewelry, photographs, t-shirts and educational toys. Many of the photos displayed at the shop are of animals from the zoo. Visitors pick up an old-fashioned trolley at the store, then ride to the center located just north of town, where they embark on a two-hour walking tour of the grounds. If you go, remember to wear comfortable walking shoes as the trails are rough and steep in some places.

The zoo is available for private tours, including tours during feeding time, birthday parties and weddings. Prices are listed below and group discounts are also available. In May, Stearns hosted what she hopes will be an annual fundraiser for the zoo, A Taste of Safari, which offered big donors private tours before other guests arrived. Stay tuned for details on other events and specials at the zoo.

Adult tickets are $22.95. (10 percent discount for those 55 and over.) Children ages two to 12 are $12.95 and children under two years old are free.

Have a comment about Pasco tourism or a suggestion for Adventures of a Pasco Tourist? Click the comment link below and share your thoughts!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Support Grows for Protecting Tourism Industry

Two articles published in the past few days that may be of interest to anyone involved in the tourism industry, particularly in Florida:

Tourism Works to Keep Funds, The Lakeland Ledger, June 29, 2008

Supporters Line Up for Tourism Bill, Tallahassee Democrat, June 26, 2008

Have a comment about Pasco tourism or a suggestion for Adventures of a Pasco Tourist? Click the comment link below and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pasco Unveils Upper Cotee River Preserve

Have you ever wrapped your arms around a 200-year-old piece of history? Pretty soon, visitors to the Upper Cotee River Preserve in central Pasco County will be able to do just that. The preserve is home to an enormous cypress tree estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old and listed in The Historic Places of Pasco County.

Experts believe the cypress may have been spared by loggers who cut down hundreds of similar trees in the early 1900s because the side of the tree was damaged by a lightning strike. Soon, the ancient cypress - and the rest of the 122-acre preserve - will be accessible to visitors through a network of hiking trails and boardwalks.

Pasco County purchased the property, located north of State Road 52 and east of Shady Hills Road, through its Environmental Lands Aquisition & Management Program or ELAMP. That means the property will be protected against development and preserved for future generations to enjoy and explore. The county recently received a 50 percent reimbursement of the acquisition costs from a Florida Communities Trust grant. Funds from the grant also will be used to complete the renovations and site improvements.
Volunteers and county staff have spent months clearing trails and renovating a house on the property to use as a nature center. Eventually, officials hope to link trails in the preserve to the nearby Suncoast Trial.

With dozens of species of birds and wildlife, including deer, wild turkey, gopher tortoises, barred owl and red-shouldered hawk, the Upper Cotee River Preserve is another great addition to the natural areas that make Pasco County such an attractive destination for bird-watchers and other nature-lovers. While the preserve is not yet open to the public, plenty of other parks and wilderness areas are. Visit Pasco Tourism to find places to hike, bike, canoe and camp.

Check out this report from Bay News 9 on the project and stay tuned to Adventures of a Pasco Tourist to find out when the preserve will be open to the public.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Family Fitness Weekend Brings Athletes to Pasco

What better reason is there to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning than to challenge yourself mentally and physically on one of the toughest fitness courses in the state? Or at least kick back and watch other, more qualified people challenge themselves on that course!

Hundreds of people did just that on a recent weekend in Pasco County. The Publix Family Fitness Weekend, held at St. Leo University on June 14 & 15, drew athletes and their families from around the state and as far away as Kentucky, Louisiana and Hawaii.
Participants swam 600 meters across Lake Jovita, biked ten miles around the campus and surrounding neighborhoods and ran three miles. Sound crazy? Well, guess what factor was cited as one of the best aspects of the course? The hilly terrain of east Pasco County, making it one of the most challenging courses in the state.

"The landscape in Pasco presents a unique challenge to those who are accustomed to flat bike courses,'' explains the event website. "The rolling hills of Pasco County are a favorite for amateur and professional athletes. This 10-mile bike course is going to challenge everyone from amateur to professionals. With so many athletes used to flat, fast-paced bike courses, this should be one exciting bike race.''

That kind of rave review from athletes and event organizers has helped Pasco County become one of the most up-and-coming sports destinations in the country.

Already, the county hosts dozens of events throughout the year, including championship lacrosse, tennis, golf, bowling, figure and speed skating. Many more sporting events are in the planning stages.

One recent addition to Pasco's fall lineup is Powerman Florida, to be held on Oct. 4 in San Antonio. Powerman is a world-class duathlon (run, bike, run) series and Powerman Florida will be the first qualifying event for the Powerman World Championships in Switzerland.

Stay tuned to Pasco County's Sports Page for the latest additions to the Sports Calendar and check out more photos from the Sprint Kids' Triathlon at the Family Fitness Weekend below.

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