San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival & Run

The 50th annual San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival & Run took place over the weekend in San Antonio.

There were many different activities, games and events for attendees to enjoy. Some of these events included shows like Cowboy Tom’s Wild West Show and the Croc Encounters demonstration. Rock climbing, corn hole tournaments and wooden gopher tortoise races were open both days, while the Rattlesnake Run only occurred on Saturday.

Children and their parents were both able to take pleasure in the festival. One child in particular was quick to express his favorite part.

“Well the first thing we’ve done,” Owen said, “we got loads of candy!”

The Croc Encounters show drew an exceptionally large audience. The crew brought four large alligators that were between seven and eight feet in length, one medium sized alligator and two small alligators.

“Croc Encounters is an animal rescue,” said John Paner, manager. “We do educational programs with the animals, we take them to events, we do shows with the animals, we do traveling exhibits.”

Another popular attraction was the pumpkin patch, where families were taking advantage of the great photo opportunities. One local resident spending time in the pumpkin patch was excited to bring her children to the festival again.

“We actually haven’t been for a few years,” Sarah said, “because my son was playing football so we kind of always had a football game, but this is our first time back in quite a few years.”

Over the two days it was open, the festival brought in a great number of people. As of now, it is planned to be held again next fall.

Tampa Pride Rises Strong Again

Live entertainment, influential guest speakers, and the waving of rainbow flags dominated the streets of Ybor City during the second annual Tampa Gay Pride parade and festival.

With the legalization of same-sex marriage passed in all 50 states since June of 2015, supporters and newcomers in the LGBT community are thrilled with the return of Tampa Pride, and vow for continued efforts to end discrimination in Florida.

“I think it’s a big influential part of the LGBT community,” said Achilles, an LGBT supporter. “You know it’s phenomenal. So, why not share it with the world?”

The event not only attracted new festivalgoers, vendors were also drawn in by the large crowd.

“It’s my first time, and I’m kind of loving it,” said Kara Wroblewski, owner of Happy Place Tie Dye.

While her company earns a profit from hand dyeing plain white t-shirts into any color the customer wants, Wroblewski said she also favors meeting new people at the festival.

“The people are sweet, I love it,” Wroblewski said. “Any time you can get a group of like-minded people together, it’s the way to go.”

The Pride celebration not only aims to usher in newcomers and supporters, forming a family with the LGBT community is another goal.

“They may have not have had the best past, they may have been thrown out or kicked out or lived on the street,” said Lindsey, a festivalgoer. “So they find a place to fit in, and be a part of a family because they want to be loved.”

 

The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is a step back in time

For the 38th straight year, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival is taking place. The festival, which moved to Tampa in 2004, is coordinated by the Museum of Science and Industry, across the street from USF.

The festival is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until March 20. No matter a person’s age or interests, anyone who has been will tell you there is something for everyone.

For people looking for a taste of medieval athletics, the event goes above and beyond what would be expected at most renaissance festivals. Archery is available, but there is also an all-day Highland Games event, where visitors can try their hand at a number of activities such as stone throws and hay tosses.

If you’re looking for some new accessories, Kristiyan Bangov has you covered. Bangov is a vendor at a stand specializing in custom leather work, “I do mostly masks and crowns, but I also do armor pieces and anything in between really”, said Bangov. Bangov only got interested in working at fairs last year, he said “I love the whole feeling of the event, it’s a completely different world from the outside once you enter here.”

You can’t talk about a renaissance festival without mentioning the food. Head Chef Ruben Beltran has been working at the event for 15 years. Beltran is in charge of four separate kitchens, “We have the health department always checking on our four kitchens,” said Beltran.

While most would assume Shepherd’s Pie would be the most popular item on the menu, Beltran has a different answer.

“The most popular item is the pot roast sandwich,” said Beltran. When asked if that was his favorite dish, he didn’t hesitate, “Oh yeah, I love it.”

Collecting The “Booty” From the Pirade Of Pirates

Pereira
Photo by Dana Achatz

Even though some people view Gasparilla as a holiday to make it an all day party Marilyn Pereira wasn’t convinced. Pereira decided to stay away from the madness at Bayshore Boulevard and work a double shift as a server at World of Beer on Saturday. To her there was not much of an appeal to attend the event. It was more important to her to make some money than see the parade.

“I didn’t request off for Gasparilla because I didn’t really even know what it was,” Pereira said. “I just moved here and I didn’t know Gasparilla was today until pretty much everyone I work with requested off.”

Sometimes called the Mardi Gras of Florida; the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts thousands to Tampa every year. The parade takes over the streets of downtown for a majority of the day. People from all over Florida make the trip to celebrate, and most of them are dressed up like pirates.

Pereira worked all morning and through most of the evening. She said she saw an increase in customers during her second shift Saturday evening after the parade had ended.

She described large groups of people of all ages weighed down with beads and wearing fake black beards and hats with giant feathers. She seemed to find the outfits a little silly. Even though she made more money than she had originally expected, she decided it might be worth it to attend Gasparilla next year.

“Yeah I would go. It would’ve been fun to tag along with someone,” Pereira said. “Maybe next year.”

After decades, St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival still brings in crowds

For the past 24 years, St. Joan of Arc Church has hosted the annual St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival. The church is located in Spring Hill, and carries a reputation for good food and fun rides. Each year, thousands of people attend the event, and many travel over an hour from other counties. Deggeller Attractions Inc. provides the various carnival rides, while the community supplies the bulk of the food and live entertainment. From singing priests, to greasy funnel cakes, the St. Joan of Arc Ethnic Festival has it all.

 

Local Artists Showcase Talent at Don’t Stop St. Petersburg

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg just came back for the event’s third year in the Arts District of downtown. Over 40 local and regional musicians came out to play on the streets showcasing some of the raw talent this city holds.

The event was crowded with people checking out all of the musicians, artists and other vendors that volunteered for the event. There was a wide variety of art styles and food, representing the artistic diversity in St. Pete. The event served as a great venue for bringing the community together for the day.

Several successful bands such as Underoath and Sleepwave have come out of St. Pete, and events like this are a great way for local musicians to get noticed and supported. The same thing goes for the other vendors that are hoping to grow their businesses.

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg was a great success, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing it come back again next year.

John’s Pass Seafood Festival celebrates 34 years

34th Annual John’s Pass Seafood Festival in Madeira Beach, Florida is a free event filled with activity. The weekend long festival features live music, craft vendors, and more seafood than you can eat. This past Friday ended with an adult costume contest hosted by DJ Infinite Skillz. The event continues throughout the weekend featuring local bands Pirate Flag headlining on Saturday and Resinated closing out the evening on Sunday.

Festa Italiana spreads Italian culture

 

Festa Italiana was hosted in Ybor City for the 18th year with the help of Joe Capitano Jr. The festival, celebrating Italian culture in Centennial Park, took place Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

The celebration of Italian culture allows the community to come together to share the culture and support local businesses, while raising funds for the Italian Club of Tampa.

“It brings awareness to Ybor,” Alice Mueller, the Italian Club manager said. “Sometimes there’s a negative connotation attached to Ybor City, but really it’s a great place to come.”

The Italian Club begins preparing for the event in August each year and continues working up until the event takes place in April.

Over 15 thousand people attended each day. Every day offers unique events to draw in crowds.

The annual Bocce Ball tournament takes place Saturday morning, while Sunday morning kicks off with a Catholic mass in the Italian Club.

Following mass, Centennial Park opens up to the public where over 100 food and beverage vendors line up along the street to sell their unique dishes and drinks.

“It’s really a family event,” Gilda Ferlita Capitano, President of the Italian Club, said.

Though family is near to many Italian’s hearts, food is a close second.

“Food, Italian food, a bunch of other Italians they get it,” Andrea Diaz, a festival attendee said.  “When they see loud voices, big gestures, it’s welcomed.”

Gilda Capitano couldn’t be prouder of her son Joe Capitano Jr. who works hard to ensure this event lives on.

“Seeing so many people together, it’s really just gratifying,” Gilda Capitano said.