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Get Away: Hot Ticket

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001


High style and horse races

In just one year, Dade City's Little Everglades Steeplechase horse racing event has gone from exhibition status to one of the richest days on the National Steeplechase Association circuit.

This year's event -- to run Sunday on a new $750,000 track at the Little Everglades Ranch, just north of Dade City -- includes four steeplechase races (where horses leap over fences as they race) and one flat race. There will be $110,000 in prize money on the line.

General admission tickets are available at the gate for $10 per person or $40 a carload, with children under 12 admitted free. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. with a variety of events scheduled throughout the day, including Jack Russell terrier races, a vendor village, a heavyweight draft horse race, hat contest, foxhound parade and amateur and junior horseback races.

The first steeplechase race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. No wagering will be allowed.

Last year's inaugural event drew about 5,000 spectators, with more expected this year.

Visitors are encouraged to pack lawn chairs, sunscreen, a tailgate lunch and a fancy hat. Steeplechase tailgating, after all, is part of the show and often includes elaborate buffets and the good china.

Racing enthusiasts can catch a preview at a steeplechase race Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs on the track's regular card.

To get to the Little Everglades ranch, take Interstate 75 to State Road 52, then follow SR 52 east to U.S. 301 in downtown Dade City. Go north about 11/2 miles on U.S. 301 to the general admission gate at Gould Road.

-- CHASE SQUIRES, Times staff writer

A world of fun

For the 26th year, the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society will bring dozens of countries and cultures to town. The folk fair, which opens to the public Friday, features costumed villagers, music, food, crafts and entertainment, such as this group of Dutch dancers, who performed in 1996. The fair is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Times Arena at Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 for ages 4-14. (727) 551-3365.

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