Pasco County hosted its 71st annual fair in Dade City this past weekend.
The Pasco County Fair began its development in 1947, opening for the first time in 1948. The five businessmen, who created the fair came together to buy the fairgrounds. They wanted to showcase youthful talent.
“The five men created the Pasco County Fair Association,” said Annual Fair Chairman Tracy J. Thompson. “The association is not owned by the county. It is privately owned by the association, which people get confused about.”
There are five buildings on the fairgrounds dedicated to the original members.
To keep the fair running, there are hundreds of unpaid volunteers that work together. The board itself has 30 members who volunteer their time to help run the countywide event.
“It takes a village to put on the fair for seven days,” said Thompson.
Children can enjoy events such as plant showings and sales, a hog show, a steer show, art exhibits, entertainment, food, and rides from the midway.
This year’s entertainment included shows such as The Fearless Flores Thrill Show, Robinson’s Racing Pigs and Extreme Illusions & Escapes. As for food, you could find funnel cakes, french fries, candy apples, pizza and boiled peanuts.
“For the past 12 to 14 years, we’ve had the PRCA Rodeo,” said Thompson. “This year we’re having what’s called the Ranch Rodeo, which will be ran a little differently.”
The Ranch Rodeo will consist of a group of men that will exhibit the different competitions that make up a regular rodeo.
The fair lasts for seven days and begins its first day on Presidents Day. Since the intention is to bring the youth together, the fair accommodates its opening times for children in the area. The fair opens at 4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
This year brought sponsors such as Covanta Energy, Kim Browne Dade City, Jarrett Ford Dade City, TECO and Pepsi.
“The biggest thing that I want people to take away from the fair is that it’s put on by a volunteer organization,” said Thompson. “It is not related to or run by the county.”
The fairgrounds hosts other events such as Sparklebration, weddings, parties and gun shows. These events assist with the upkeep of the grounds.
Interested in volunteering? Want to discover what other events the Pasco County Fairgrounds offers? Visit their website at www.pascocountyfair.com.
Two USF professors are trying to develop a program that will allow children to deal with their own problems anonymously.
Nathan Fisk, assistant professor of cybersecurity education in the USF College of Education, and Sriram Chellappan, associate professor in the USF department of computer science and engineering, received a grant for $498,333 from the National Science Foundation to research how to use metadata from the communications of children to provide early intervention and resources for possible problems the children might be facing. Fisk said they want to build a predictive model of distress.
“What we’re really looking to do with this particular project is talk to kids about how they prefer to be supervised, and how we can do supervision work and help guide them without violating their privacy,” Fisk said. “So we weren’t concerned as much with making another app or making an app at all that did the work of identifying cyberbullying. In some ways that’s not what we’re doing … we wanted to say we want to supervise kids, and kids kind of want supervision and guidance. They just also want privacy, and so how can we develop systems that can detect when kids are in some form of distress without violating their privacy.”
Their system will not collect message content. Instead, the two will gather metadata such as how many messages were received, what time they were received, whether or not they were replied to and other similar data points.
“We want to pick up data about the data, and then, so that way the privacy of the communication is also protected,” Chellappan said.
The idea behind the project, Fisk said, is that if someone is in trouble, their communication patterns will change predictably. Sometimes the best thing a child can have is a notification that provides resources for them to handle their problems, whether that’s notification of guidance counselors, parents, or law enforcement, or just links to web pages, Fisk said. Fisk and Chellappan want to talk to children to find out what they would prefer in a monitoring system.
“We can place into their hands the power to choose what to do and when if they have a problem,” Fisk said. “We’d like to protect their privacy, and we’d like to empower them to do what they feel are the appropriate next steps.”
The input of the children is also vital to Fisk and Chellappan because, they said, the children know better than adults what is a problem for them.
“We can’t just assume what those problems are, as we all too frequently do,” Fisk said.
For Chellappan and Fisk, this platform is all about protecting the privacy of the children.
“When people talk about cybersecurity in the past, privacy was always either you cared about it a little, or you never cared about it,” Chellappan said. “But now, privacy is becoming very, very important.”
The platform is designed to be completely anonymous, Fisk said. In addition to not collecting message content, their research will not collect phone numbers, names, or any other information that would identify the child.
“We don’t want to know anything about those things,” Fisk said. “We’re developing the platform specifically to make sure that we can’t know who they are.”
Chellappan and Fisk will collect metadata on communications from a sample size of about 1,000 middle school students. Fisk said they are looking to pull their sample from students in Pasco County, although he and Chellappan are discussing pulling from Hillsborough County as well. Fisk said the point where middle school students are in their lives made them the ideal candidates for the research.
“In middle school … you’re at a point in life where you’re starting to think about becoming an adult and being tired of being a younger kid with a lot more constraints,” Fisk said. “You can kind of see what’s going on in that adult world a little bit better, but you’re not there yet, and you’re not quite in that high school space where you have more freedoms, more access to power in the forms of jobs and cars and more easily accessible private spaces. So, you’re trapped in between those two worlds in a way that makes it harder to feel like you have any meaningful control over your own life.”
Before they get started, however, they have to lay out a lot of groundwork. They must develop the monitoring platform and the research platform, two separate applications. They also have to get approval from multiple layers of the International Review Board and gain parental permission for children participating in the study.
“It’s a long road,” Chellappan said. “It’s a very, very long road, and I only wish there were 48 hours in a day.”
Fisk said he would like to see this research platform be developed for use in social science spaces as a broader platform for any social scientist who wants to do research using metadata collection and survey analysis. He sees the potential for both platforms beyond this study. However, he said, their platform will never replace a child’s relationship with responsible adults to solve problems.
“At the end of the day … nothing is ever going to replace a strong, well-meaning relationship with trusted adults in the forms of parents and teachers who are going to be able to identify kids who are facing some kind of distress or abuse, but ideally this will be one more mechanism that will provide kids with a little bit more power when it comes to managing their own problems,” Fisk said.
The Glazer Children’s Museum hosts a wide variety of interactive exhibits with topics ranging from the deep ocean to deep space, which kids can play with to understand the world around them. Open year-round, the museum is constantly cycling through new events to make every visit a unique experience.
“As far as the events go, it’s an all staff kind of opinions. All of us continue to feed our opinions as to what will work and what caters to the families in which we serve,” said Alyssa Ortiz, marketing and communications manager at Glazer.
Frequent visitors to the museum have the option to purchase memberships. According to the museum website, members gain access to special features, including: invitations to member-only events and previews, discounts to partnering organizations, museums, and aquariums, three dollars off general admission for guests and more.
For visitors that frequent the museum less often, there are still many activities that all children can enjoy.
“I love bringing my daughter to the museum because the museum offers so many different activities for her to learn and do,” said Vu Lieu, a visitor at the Glazer Children’s Museum.
Parents can be confident that their children will enjoy learning through interactions with various activities in a safe, controlled environment.
Visit the Glazer Children’s Museum and start the journey to a bright future.
For over 20 years, Eckerd Kids has been helping at-risk youth in the Tampa community.
Their Friends of the Children program provides these youths with a professional mentor to work with them through life. The mentors begin their work with the students when they are in kindergarten or first grade, and they remain with the students through to their high school graduation.
“I love the role I’m working in now,”said Justin Goldsmith, one of Eckerd’s professional mentors. “I wake up every morning and I thank God for putting me in this predicament to help the youth.”
Friends of the Children is the first program to work exclusively with kids in the foster care system. Many of the students that are chosen for this program are considered the most vulnerable students in their area.
“When I was 4, I didn’t have any friends. I was all by myself,” said Kaden Figueras, 7, a student in the Eckerd program for two years. “Now I’m being a leader and having fun.”
The program has nine mentors working with over 60 students across Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
“I just want to let the youth know that they can be leaders, or they can be whatever they want to in life,”Goldsmith said.
Delta Delta Delta is a sorority at the University of South Florida. They hosted the annual Delta House of Pancakes philanthropy event on Friday, stacking piles of pancakes and raising thousands of dollars for sick children fighting cancer and their families.
Each semester, the USF Greek Life community presents charity events that benefit over 49organizations. Tri Delta’s national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides housing, food and medical treatment for any child diagnosed with cancer, regardless whether their family can afford it.
Most of these children are terminal. Once a year, Tri Delta hosts Delta House of Pancakes, which costs attendees $5 for pre-sale tickets and $7 at the door. The ticket allows them unlimited pancakes and other breakfast items.
Walking into the Tri Delta chapter room, guests are overwhelmed with the aroma of maple syrup, crackling bacon and most importantly, pounds upon pounds of golden pancakes.Tables and chairs are lined up with eager college students ready to devour something better than dining hall food.
This year, the planning and work paid off, raising over $17,000 for St. Jude’s.For the chapter president, Mackenzie Reyes, the experience is much more than simply writing a check.
“Every patient we meet, every success story we hear and every time the survival rate improves is possible because of the millions of dollars raised and the awareness generated by Tri Delta members for the past 15 years,” Reyes said.
Reyes, along with 45 other members of Tri Delta, recently visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The sorority sisters were given the opportunity to see exactly where their contributions go and the brave children they affect.
St. Jude’s treats newborns up to 21-year-olds, for brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, infectious diseases, blood disorders, sickle cell disease and solid tumors. Treatment for these diseases is rough, expensive and sometimes hard to watch. For the Tri Delta’s, meeting these sick children face to face made all the difference.
“I had a multitude of the most highly trained doctors in America and the strongest children of our future generation coming up to me and thanking me for all that we do as sorority women,” Reyes said. “We help their families through some of the darkest times of their lives.”
Delta House of Pancakes attracted a crowd of over 400 people to the Tri Delta house in USF Greek Village, not including the five Tampa Bay businesses that sponsored the event. The attendance and sponsorship’s played a big role in helping Tri Delta reach a monetary goal and spread awareness.
“Our goal is to raise $60 million in 10 years, after recently beating our $15 million in 5 years goal,” Lexi Kalantzis said, a Tri Delta member of two years.
Tri Delta holds the largest single commitment by a St. Jude partner, having had a short-term housing facility named after their organization. The housing facility, located in Memphis, acts as a residence for cancer-fighting adolescents and their families for up to a week.
It is free of charge because of donations from Tri Delta, so the families can focus on saving their child’s life and lessening the pain that comes with battling such a disease.
“Who wouldn’t want to play a direct role in raising money for St. Jude’s?” Teagan Fiore said , the Tri Delta philanthropy chair who planned the event.
With the help of the other 48 Greek organizations on campus and the community, Tri Delta members such as Reyes, Kalantzis and Fiore are confident a major impact can be made for participating charities, and countless young lives can be spared.
“We are a part of something much larger than ourselves,” Reyes said.