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Chasco returns with food, parades and controversy

The festival is expected to draw more than 100,000 to its barbecues, parades and children's events. But some American Indians are not happy with how they are depicted.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2001


The 79th annual edition of the popular Chasco Fiesta starts Thursday in downtown New Port Richey amid criticism from the American Indian Movement about the festival's depiction of the Florida native populations the event ostensibly honors.

The festival, which continues until April 1, is expected to draw more than 100,000 people to eat, watch, buy or participate in barbecues, pancake breakfasts, carnival rides, a huge parade, a boat parade, a bicycle tour, fun runs (and walks), an arts and crafts fair, a softball tournament, a golf tournament, a stamp show, a gala ball where Queen Chasco and King Pithla will be crowned, and an Indian village for children.

AIM members have complained that the Chasco participants who dress up as Indians and dance around present an image that is "stereotypical and racist." But promoters said the Chasco Fiesta has improved its portrayal of American Indians in recent years and continues to seek the input of American Indians to improve the authenticity of the event.

The event officially starts at 5 p.m. Thursday when the Native American Festival, featuring various tribes from around the country, kicks off in Sims Park. Also at that time, the West Pasco Sertoma Club starts serving its barbecued beef and the Chasco Carnival pushes the levers to start the rides.

The Native American Festival will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and continues 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. March 23, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. March 24 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 25. The Sertomans will serve barbecue until 10 p.m. Thursday, then again from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. March 23 and 24 and noon to 4 p.m. March 25.

The carnival midway around Orange Lake will be open throughout Chasco; hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. A special $12 wristband will allow unlimited rides March 26 through 29.

Also on Thursday is the Junior Service League Indian Pageant at 7:30 p.m. in Sims Park. Admission is free.

Starting March 23, Chasco will have daily entertainment on the amphitheater stage in Sims Park, each show with a different theme:

MARCH 23: Variety night (5:30 to 10:45 p.m.)

MARCH 24: Rock 'n' roll in the park (5-11 p.m.

MARCH 25: Catch a Rising Star variety show (2-7:45 p.m.)

MARCH 26: Bluegrass (6-10 p.m.)

MARCH 27: Radio Disney's Magical Night of Entertainment (6-9 p.m.)

MARCH 28: Broadway review, featuring Just Us Girls (starts at 5:45 p.m.)

MARCH 29: Rhythm & Bluesmasters, featuring Indigenous, a Sioux blues group (6-11 p.m.)

MARCH 30: Contemporary Christian family night (6-11 p.m.)

MARCH 31: Country Concert, with headliner Collin Raye (starts at 7 p.m.) Cost is $20 general admission, $30 Golden Square premium seating. Call (727) 842-7651 or purchase at People's Bank or West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

APRIL 1: Henry Fletcher Orchestra (2-4 p.m.)

Among the largest events are the Holiday Rotary Club Chasco Street parade at 1 p.m. March 24; the Port Richey Rotary Club River Raft Race at 1 p.m. March 25; and the New Port Richey Rotary Club Boat Parade at 1:30 p.m. March 31.

A new event this year is the American Diabetes Association's Kiss-A-Pig Contest. The person who raises the most money for the association will get to kiss a real, live pig provided by Old McMicky's Farm.

Why kiss a pig?

"The pig is where (researchers) found the insulin diabetics need," said Jeff Kivler, husband of Marylou Kivler, who is trying to raise a mile's length of dimes in order to be the winner. "They have Kiss-A-Pig contests to honor the pig. There will also be little piglets for kids to touch and pet." The winner will be announced on March 24.

Chasco Fiesta is the main fundraiser for many of the 30 not-for-profit organizations that participate in the celebration.

Chasco fiesta events

Thursday 5-10 p.m.: Native American Festival, Sims Park

5-10 p.m.: West Pasco Sertoma beef barbecue, $6 a plate

5-10 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

7:30 p.m.: Junior Service League Indian Pageant, Sims Park amphitheater

* * *

Friday 9 a.m.-11 p.m.: Native American Festival

11 a.m.-11 p.m.: West Pasco Sertoma beef barbecue, $6 a plate, Sims Park

1-4 p.m.: West Pasco Historical Society's exhibit of memorabilia from the 1922 Chasco Fiesta, 6431 Circle Blvd.

5-11 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

5:30-11 p.m.: Variety Night music show, Sims Park amphitheater, free

6 p.m.: Lighthouse Coronation Ball, Spartan Manor ($85 a person)

* * *

Saturday, March 24

8-11 a.m.: Cotee River Lions Club Breakfast, $3, Sims Park

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Hunter Blood Center Bloodmobile, Sims Park

10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Junior Service League Children's Indian Village, Sims Park

10 a.m.-11 p.m.: Native American Festival, Sims Park

11 a.m.-11 p.m.: West Pasco Sertoma beef barbecue, $6 a plate, Sims Park

11 a.m.-11 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

1 p.m.: Holiday Rotary Club Chasco Street Parade

4 p.m.: American Diabetes Association Kiss-A-Pig Contest,

4-11 p.m.: Rock & Roll in the Park, Sims Park amphitheater

* * *

Sunday, March 25

8-11 a.m.: Cotee River Lions Club Breakfast, $3, Sims Park

8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: Gulfside Corvette Club Chasco Classic Car and Truck Show, Orange Lake

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Hudson Sertoma Baby Contest, New Port Richey Recreation Complex

11 a.m.-6 p.m.: Native American Festival

Noon-4 p.m.: West Pasco Sertoma beef barbecue, $6 a plate, Sims Park

1 p.m.: Chasco River Raft Race, Millers Bayou at Nicks Park, Port Richey

1-6 p.m. Chasco Carnival

2-8 p.m.: Catch a Rising Star music show

* * *

Monday, March 26

9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: West Pasco Kiwanis Flea Market, New Port Richey Recreation Center

5-10 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

6-10 p.m.: Bluegrass Music, with Lost River, Orange Blossom Ramblers, Sno Rogers

* * *

Tuesday, March 27

9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: West Pasco Kiwanis Flea Market, New Port Richey Recreation Center

5-10 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

6-9 p.m.: Radio Disney with Katie Sweeney, Kidz at Play, Colby O'Donis, Michelle and the No Confusion Dancers, Sims Park amphitheater

* * *

Wednesday, March 28

5-10 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

6-9 p.m.: Broadway Review, with Jeannette Assalti, Jill Assalti, Jamie Perlow and Mikki Taylor, Michael Martin, Jimmy Ferraro, Pete Rostel and Dee Etta Rowe

* * *

Thursday, March 29

5-10 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

6-11 p.m.: Rhythm and Bluesmasters, with Damon Fowler, T.C. Carr and The Catch, Indigenous, Sims Park amphitheater

* * *

Friday, March 30

1-4 p.m.: West Pasco Historical Society's exhibit of memorabilia from the 1922 Chasco Fiesta, 6431 Circle Blvd.

4-8 p.m.: Cotee River Fish Fry, $5 a plate, Sims Park

5-11 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

7 p.m.: Early Indians and their mounds, Terry Kline, West Pasco Historical Society, 6431 Circle Blvd.

7-11 p.m.: Family Night Contemporary Christian Music, with 39 Stripes and Margaret Becker, Sims Park amphitheater

* * *

Saturday, March 31

6:30 a.m.: Registration for Alzheimer's Family Organization bicycle tour and 10K, 5K and

1-mile Fun Run

8 a.m.: Fun Run start

8-11 a.m.: Cotee River Lions Club breakfast, $3, Sims Park

10 a.m.-5 p.m.: New Port Richey Area Stamp Show, New Port Richey Recreation Center

10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Chasco Arts and Crafts Fiesta, Orange Lake

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Cotee River Lions Club chicken barbecue, $6 a plate, Sims Park

11 a.m.-11 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

1:30 p.m.: New Port Richey Rotary Club Boat Parade, Miller's Bayou

7 p.m.: Country Concert -- headliner is Collin Raye, opening act is Daniel Lee Martin. Tickets are $20 general seating, $30 Golden Square (available at West Pasco Chamber of Commerce)

Sunday, April 1

8-11 a.m.: Cotee River Lions Club breakfast, $3, Sims Park

8:30 a.m.: Shotgun start of Keep Pasco Beautiful, Inc. Golf Tournament, Meadow Oaks Golf and Country Club

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: New Port Richey Area Stamp Show, New Port Richey Recreation Center

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Chasco Arts and Crafts Fiesta, Orange Lake

11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Cotee River Lions Club chicken barbecue, $6 a plate, Sims Park

11 a.m.-6 p.m.: Chasco Carnival

2-4 p.m.: Henry Fletcher Orchestra, Sims Park amphitheater

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