Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pasco Bug Jam Sets World Record for Most People in a VW Bug

DADE CITY --- The fledging economy didn’t stop Volkswagen owners from flocking to the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City, FL, for the 21st annual Pasco Bug Jam on Sunday, Nov. 8. Nearly 500 VWs, representing most all models of the “People’s Car,” entered the show, along with more than 125 swap vendors and plenty of new VW parts vendors and sellers of all things Volkswagen.

The Bug Jam, noted as the largest VW show in the Southeast, also received international recognition when event hosts organized an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Record™ for the most people “crammed into an old-style VW Beetle.”

“The old figure was 15, set in December 2008 in Brazil,” said Carol Jeffares Hedman, Bug Jam coordinator. “I was doubtful when we got the ’71 Bug and looked inside that more than that could possibly fit.”

But about 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, 17 people twisted and turned and squeezed into the small VW, remaining in the pretzel-like mound with the doors and windows shut for 5 seconds --- breaking the world record.

“We didn’t even know there were 17 in there until they started literally pulling the arms and legs out doors,” Hedman said. “It was great. The DJ started playing ‘We Are the Champions’ and the crowd and participants started whooping and hollering and giving high-fives.”

To be an official attempt, Guinness Book of World Records™ requires various forms of documentation to make sure its requirements were met, Hedman said. That includes all persons being 18 or older and taller than 5 feet. The Bug Jam participants ranged in ages from 19 to 56 and from 5-feet-1 to 6 foot tall.

“We have sent the required documentation and are now just waiting to hear back from Guinness for the official word,” Hedman said.

Other winners at the Bug Jam included the 1952 Beetle owned by Lindy Herrell of Carrollton, GA. It took home Best of Show honors, along with best interior. Other awards went to Tee and Evelyn Watkins, of Bardstown, KY, with a 1973 Thing for the best engine; Kevin Arsenean, of Chugiak, AS, 1965 21-Window Microbus, best paint; and Donna Morse, of Lyndon, IL, 2000 Beetle GIS, best display.

A crowd of more than 7,000 attended the Bug Jam, held annually on the second Sunday of November at the 40-acre Pasco County Fairgrounds.

The Bug Jam is organized by the non-profit Pasco County Fair Association Inc., a 501 (c) 3 organization, and all proceeds go to non-profit organizations, including All Children’s Hospital that has received nearly $200,000 since the Bug Jam was conceived 21 years ago. It is also supported, in part, by the Pasco County Tourist Development Council.

For more information about the Bug Jam, call the Pasco Fair Office, (352) 567-6678, e-mail bugjam@pascocountyfair.com, or visit the Web site: http://www.pascobugjam.com/.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Symphony in Lights Returns to Wiregrass

Combine 250,000 lights, Trans-Siberian Orchestra music plus computer-animation and you have an exciting new holiday tradition for Pasco County. With a quarter of a million LED lights, 1,000 watts of sound, and 10 tons of holiday d├ęcor combine to create “Symphony in Lights,” one unbelievable holiday experience that returns to The Shops at Wiregrass on November 21st and runs nightly through December 31.

To celebrate the show’s kick off on November 21, a concert will be held in Center Court featuring The Alan Darcy Group that will play throughout the night. The Shops at Wiregrass, Pasco's newest Town Center shopping destination, is located at SR56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel.

The twinkling, blinking, ever-moving, computer-programmed extravaganza, choreographed to the holiday music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), runs four times per evening, every hour on the hour, beginning at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Symphony In Lights” illuminates the night with the area's newest holiday tradition, a show that’s simply unlike anything that currently exists in the Greater Tampa/St. Pete area,” said Greg Lenners, general manager, The Shops at Wiregrass. “The Center will be trimmed top to bottom with 250,000 LED lights that only take as much energy to run nightly as it takes to light a single home. ‘Symphony in Lights’ will delight the whole family and is well worth the trip, no matter where you live in the area,” he added.

The first “Symphony in Lights” was created in Mason, Ohio, when holiday light hobbyist Carson Williams conceived a fantastically creative light show on his home, set to the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It made its way across the United States via the Internet appearing on The Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres, the Miller Lite beer commercial and You Tube, drawing the attention of developer Forest City, owner and manager of The Shops at Wiregrass and other centers across the country.

Forest City was so inspired by Carson’s creativity, that they partnered with him and brought in professional designer John Carter from Parker 3-D.com to create commercial-sized, choreographed lighting exhibits set to the music of TSO.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Slither over to San Antonio for Rattlesnakes & More

Ok, where else can you go and see trained snake handlers in one show and racing gopher tortoises (sort of) in another? Then, walk over to the corn toss tournament or western wear contest? Sound intriguing? Then, you'd better "slither" on over to San Antonio for the 43rd Annual San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival.

If you've never been, it's a Pasco County treasure you truly have to see to believe. There is so much to do and see that you really do need two days to see everything. From arts and crafts to kids games, a petting zoo, inflatables, live entertainment, custom car show and 5-mile or 1-mile fun runs, there is no way you won't be entertained. Or at least really, really scared. (Just kidding! All of the snakes are handled only by trained experts and spectators are a safe distance from the dangerous ones at all times.)
For the foodies, did we mention there is also a Pancake Breakfast and Chili Cook-off? And of course, what would any small town festival be without a pageant? The Miss Rattler Pageant will be held Sunday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. in Dan Cannon Auditorium at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. Don't miss it!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bikers to invade Downtown New Port Richey

If you are a biker or just a bike fan, then you will want to make plans to head to Downtown New Port Richey the weekend of Oct. 9-11. The West Pasco Chamber of Commerce will present its Fifth Annual Cotee River Bike Fest at Sims Park and around Orange Lake. There will be live music on two stages, a vintage ride-in bike show, $1,000 Daisy Duke contest, truck pull, tattoo contest and the "Disc-Connected K-9s,'' world-famous frisbee dogs.
Again this year, Sheriff Bob White and the Sheriff's Foundation will host the Annual Sheriff's Charity Ride to benefit the PACE Center for Girls. The 50-mile ride starts at Gulfcoast Harley Davidson on State Road 54 and ends with VIP parking at the Bike Fest. Riders will be escorted by the Pasco Sheriff's Motorcycle Unit.

A second good cause at the Bike Fest will be the Bikers Against Hunger food drive and fundraiser. Visitors to the festival are encouraged to bring canned food, baby food, toilet paper and other non-perishable items to the Volunteer Way tent at the festival. It's a great way to have a good time and help others! To find out more or volunteer, visit the website or call the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce at 727-842-7651.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekends Packed with Events in Downtown New Port Richey

Things are really jumping in downtown New Port Richey for the next few weekends. Greater New Port Richey Main Street and Progress Energy Art Gallery sent us the updates below. Check it out and get downtown!

Greater New Port Richey Main Street will host its September Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Railroad Square in New Port Richey. During the summer months the market has been on a monthly schedule, which will continue through October.

The September market will include a community garage sale where people can sell household items in a relaxed atmosphere. Entertainment will be provided by Greg Rabelo, guitarist and
singer for the local band Bone Yard Dogs, who will be appearing at Main Street’s Founders Day Fall Celebration in Sims Park a week later.

“The Downtown Farmers Markets are a part of Main Street’s program to get people to enjoy the beautiful downtown we have here in New Port Richey, and at the same time do a little bargain
shopping while taking care of their produce needs,” said Judy DeBella Thomas, the Executive Director of Greater New Port Richey Main Street. “We feel that the more folks visit our downtown, the more they will want to come back!”

For information about the Downtown Farmers Market, or to apply for vendor space, visit http://www.nprmainstreet.com/ or call 727-842-8066.

Florida State Quarter Illustrator to Appear at Art Exhibit
Progress Energy Art Gallery will host prominent artist/illustrator Ralph Butler on Sept. 26. Mr. Butler’s paintings have been on exhibit at the gallery as part of the Viva L’Florida show featuring art that depicts the state of Florida. The gallery is located at 6231 Grand Boulevard in downtown New Port Richey.

Mr. Butler will present the original illustrations that were selected for the 2004 Commemorative Florida Quarter design, called "Gateway to Discovery."

Mr. Butler also designed the very rare Bicentennial Medal for Florida, through the Franklin Mint. Due to the rarity of this medal it will only be on exhibit the evening of his appearance, under guard. The artist will also sign your own Florida State quarter, so check your piggy banks and pockets for Florida State quarters.

Progress Energy Art Gallery is a project of Greater New Port Richey Main Street, whose mission is to assist in the growth and redevelopment of historic downtown. The art gallery was founded in May of 2003, with the purpose of giving local artists an opportunity to show their work and to enhance cultural quality in the West Pasco area. To learn more, visit http://www.nprgallery.com/ or call 727-848-6500.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birding Events and Trips Hosted by West Pasco Audubon

The West Pasco Audubon Society recently released its fall schedule of birding programs and field trips. Here is the scoop!

The fall calendar begins Sept. 12 with a program at the Starkey Education Center, located inside the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey. "Birding in Paradise, Birds of Hawaii" will be presented by Agnes Condon at 3 p.m.

The group's Annual Migration Count will be on Saturday, Sept. 19. Be sure to count your backyard and neighborhood birds and email Ken Tracey at kftracey@verizon.net with your species list and the total birds seen. County parks will also need bird counters. Be sure to record the park name. Use the list of birds seen on previous counts to record your sightings.

The photo contest for this fall and spring 2010 has started! See the rules and entry form for complete details. Photos from the 2009 contest can be picked up at the Sept. 12 meeting. Check out last year's first place winner in the Native Bird category by Mark Turnau!
Finally, a couple cool field trips are planned.
Honeymoon Island: Saturday Sept 26 at 7:30 a.m. Meet at the Burger King located at Moog Road and U.S. 19 in Holiday. Agnes Condon will lead the group.

Pelagic Trip on the East Coast: Sunday Nov. 15th, Contact Murray Gardler at
mangrovefirst@tampabay.rr.com or Michael Brothers at mbrothers@co.volusia.fl.us for
costs and times.

For more information on these and other fun birding activities, contact Ken Tracey at kftracey@verizon.net or visit the website at http://www.westpascoaudubon.com/ Happy birding!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Visit these attractions during Tourism Week

What better way to recognize National Tourism and Travel Week by checking out some of the very cool tours and attractions that Pasco County has to offer. If you are visiting, you'll have a great time discovering the meaning of Pasco's "It's Only Natural" slogan. If you are a local, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the unique and offbeat activities you can do in your own backyard. Check out a few below, along with these fun facts about tourism in Florida and the U.S.

Travel Industry Fun Facts

Did You Know that travel and tourism is a $1.6 trillion industry in the United States? If one dollar bill equaled a second of time, then $1.6 trillion would equal almost 51,000 years.

Did You Know that travel and tourism generates $110 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments? If you place 110 billion one dollar bills end-to-end, they would circle the world 419 times.

Did You Know that each U.S. household would pay $995 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry? $995 will buy about five weeks of groceries for a family of four, will fill the average car with gas 17 times, or will even pay the average cost of a ticket to a Michigan vs. Ohio State football game.

Did You Know that the travel and tourism industry is one of the country's largest employers with 7.5 million jobs? You could fill the Louisiana Superdome a hundred times over with people directly employed in the industry. For more, visit the U.S. Travel Association's website.

So, what's there to do in Pasco County? Plenty! Check out some of these cool spots this summer.

Florida Estates Winery, State Road 52 in Land O' Lakes - Open daily, the winery also hosts a monthly Fresh Market with produce, arts and crafts vendors, wine tasting and live music. http://www.floridaestateswines.com/

Empire Winery, 11807 Little Road, New Port Richey - Provides tours and wine tastings. Call (727) 819-2821 or stop by. Visit them online here.

Dade City's Wild Things Zoo - Meridian Avenue & 17th Street, Dade City. A non-profit sanctuary and zoo on 22 acres, Wild Things offers feeding tours, educational tours for school groups and private tours. Visit the website here.

Miss Daisy Boat Tours on the Cotee River - Docked at the Seaside Inn in Port Richey, the Miss Daisy provides short jaunts on the Cotee River and into the Gulf of Mexico. Captain Kelly and First Mate George share the vibrant history of Pasco County as they cruise by homes of Gloria Swanson, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, & Johnny Cash. Visit their website here.
Have a comment about Pasco Tourism? Click the "Comments" link below to discuss great places to visit in Pasco County or to recommend a destination for an upcoming Adventure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Benefit "Art for Kids" at Suncoast Arts Fest

Organizers of the Suncoast Arts Fest, being held this year at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, are promoting the event as a low-cost option for kids and families to enjoy. See below for more details from the event website. The art festival is free and proceeds benefit art education programs for kids.

Suncoast Arts Fest, May 2 - 3

Everyone has been affected by the recent down-turn of the economy either directly or through someone they know. The good news is there are still opportunities to make happy memories on a tight budget and the Suncoast Arts Fest May 2—3 at The Shops of Wiregrass is one of those opportunities. There will be something for everyone. This annual event will feature the works of over 80 fine artisans and craftsmen in all price ranges and for all tastes.

Looking for that special gift maybe for an important birthday? Something for mom on Mother's Day? Or to celebrate an anniversary? Well, here’s a helpful buying hint - buy an original piece of artistic treasure. When you select a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind piece of magic, the special persons who receives it will always think of you when they see it or use it. Here's another idea - buy a one-of-kind memento that will remind you of the wonderful day spent at the Suncoast Arts Fest with family and friends.

There's so much at the Arts Fest for everyone to enjoy at no cost. Children can hone their artistic instincts in the hands-on children’s art tent. You and your friends can enjoy a variety of both professional and local musical talent, everything from rock to blues to polka. Enjoy the wonderful food and spirits available at the merchants of Wiregrass.

Admission is free and there is plenty of convenient parking. Everything is handicapped accessible. Come out, relax and forget your troubles at the Suncoast Arts Fest on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Remember, this event is put on to benefit "Arts for Kids in Pasco County."

For additional information, visit www.suncoastartsfest.com or call 727-247-6182. The Suncoast Arts Fest is a production of The Fine Arts of the Suncoast, Inc., a Florida not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission to "promote cultural awareness in Pasco County." Proceeds from the event will go to "Art for Kids in Pasco County" and help supplement funding for arts education in schools.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Eat BBQ & Raise Money for a Good Cause

Where else can you ride your bike for a good cause and chow down on some of the best barbecue around? Only at East Pasco Habitat’s Orange Blossom Special BBQ & Bike Festival, of course! Choose from individual, family fun or team rides of up to 62 miles through the hills around Dade City or along the Withlacoochee State Trail. Follow that with a fabulous BBQ lunch and live entertainment including country, gospel and fiddlers at the Dade City Business Center Festival Courtyard. The BBQ competition is officially sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association and includes cash prizes. There will also be crafters, civic booths and vendors and the Citrus History Museum will be open all day. To keep the kids entertained, there will be a Kiddie Corner with face painting, clowns and old‐time games. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit http://www.ephabitat.org/ for more info.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Winery Featured on Call-In Radio Show

Wine lovers will want to check out a new call-in radio show featuring local wine expert Ron Hunt of Florida Estates Winery in Land O' Lakes. The show is broadcast online every Thursday at 7 p.m. Listeners can call in and "Ask Ron" about Florida wines. Visit the show's link here.

This weekend is also the vineyard's monthly Wine Festival & Market, including a yummy sampling of Florida wines. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and includes vendors offering sauces, arts & crafts, jewelry and plants, plus live music. Meet the winemaker (Ron) and sample some of his latest creations. The winery is located four miles west of I-75 on State Road 52. Visit the website here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pasco Featured on Visit Florida Website

Pasco County has gotten some great publicity recently from the state's official tourism site, VisitFlorida.com. The Visit Florida site has been ranked the No. 1 travel site in the country by a number of different experts and being featured on the site is a nice shout-out for events and attractions in Pasco.

St. Petersburg Times outdoor writer Terry Tomalin recently posted an item on "Hiking, Paddling and Biking" in Pasco County. You can read his article here.

Authentic Florida Expert Lucy Tobias recently made a trip to Dade City for the Kumquat Festival and also dined at Lunch on Limoges. Check out her writeup on the festival here and her review of Lunch on Limgoes here.

Unrelated to Visit Florida, but still great publicity for Pasco attractions, St. Pete Times writer Barbara Fredricksen recently did a nice piece on the beautiful murals in downtown New Port Richey that depict scenes from the city's glamorous Hollywood past. Read it here and check back to Adventures of a Pasco Tourist frequently for more fun features on Pasco County!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Little Everglades Steeplechase Thunders Into Town

Dade City ‐ It was recently named Best Attraction in Florida by Florida Monthly magazine and now it’s returning for another exciting year of pageantry at the 2,000-acre Little Everglades Ranch north of town. With its elegant lawn boxes and "parties on the homestretch,'' the Steeplechase takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 8. It is the largest steeplechase event in Florida, with a purse of more than $45,000. This year, downtown Dade City will welcome the event with the first‐ever Steeplechase Parade on Saturday, March 7 at 11 a.m., followed by a BBQ with music at nearby Agnes Lamb Park to benefit the Dade City Youth Council.

For the uninitiated, the steeplechase is way more than just horses running and jumping, although that is very cool. Spectators can check out the Parade of Hounds by South Creek Foxhounds, the popular ‐ and hilarious ‐ Jack Russell Terrier Races and the Hat Contest featuring prizes for most unusual and most elegant.
To view an award-winning video on the event, A Day at the Races, click here.

For a complete race day schedule and tickets, visit the Steeplechase website


Monday, February 2, 2009

Championship Rodeo Returns to Fair

The dirt will be flying as cowboys and cowgirls ride again at the Fourth Annual Pasco County Fair Rodeo on Friday, Feb. 20 and Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. Admission to the rodeo is free with admission to the 62nd Annual Pasco County Fair, which runs from Feb. 16 to Feb. 22. The fair offers something for everyone, including arts and crafts, beauty pageants, livestock shows, entertainment, great food and, of course, the famous midway rides.

Here's the complete scoop on the rodeo from the fair website, along with some great photos:

Friday night's rodeo is being billed as "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" night in support of breast cancer awareness. Charlie Lowery of 4-L Rodeo will bring his top rodeo stock to challenge professional rodeo riders in performances that are sure to excite audiences of all ages. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Professional Women's Barrel Racing, the rodeo will include the events of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, calf roping, steer wrestling, bullriding, and barrel racing.

Junior barrel races will be open to local participants. The junior barrel races will follow the professional women's event. There will also be rodeo clowns and other specialty acts. For complete details on the rodeo and the fair, visit the fair site.
Have a comment about Pasco Tourism? Click the "Comments" link above to discuss great places to visit in Pasco County or to recommend a destination for an upcoming Adventure.