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Making a splash

From a kayaking poker game to a gooey touch tank, Bayfest promises a variety of all things wet and wild.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001

CRYSTAL RIVER -- Bayfest organizers are planning a two-day festival that offers arts and crafts, wildlife displays, watersports and food this weekend.

Now in its second year, Bayfest has regrouped its events following last year's show. Among the improvements are keeping most of the events in one neighborhood to eliminate excessive walking. Bayfest hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Bayfest will have about 120 arts and crafts exhibits nestled along NE First and Second avenues between Crystal Street and Citrus Avenue, behind City Hall. Other events will be at Heritage Village shops along Citrus Avenue and the Lions Club at the old railroad station depot at 109 Crystal St.

Kings Bay will be the site of kayak activities Saturday and Sunday. Festival-goers can enjoy a ride and a swim in the cool spring-fed waters once the afternoon sun starts heating things up.

Here are the highlights:

ON KINGS BAY: A poker run on the waters of Kings Bay will have kayakers paddling a 4-mile course through the bay, picking up a playing card at seven different stops. The winner will be the kayaker with the best poker hand at the end of the run. The winner gets several gift certificates from area merchants. The poker run starts at 2 p.m, check-in begins at 1 p.m. (There is no entry fee, and rentals are available.

On Sunday, kayakers will compete in a 4.5-mile race in Kings Bay. Winners will get gift certificates. Check in starts at 1 p.m. and the race at 2.

But you don't have to be a racer or poker runner to enjoy the bay during Bayfest.

If you want to explore the bay on your own, Riversports Kayaks of Homosassa will rent its watercraft for $5 an hour. These kayaks can also be used in the poker run and races. Call Riversports at 621-4972 or visit the Web site at

Representatives from Confluence Watersports will have about 100 new kayaks available for short demonstration rides.

IN HERITAGE VILLAGE SHOPS: A variety of activities here, plus some nifty gift shops and a cafe. Highlights include a "touch-tank" brought in by the St. Martin's Marsh State Aquatic Preserve. Inside the plexiglass tank will be a sampling of fish and plants found in the gulf. Visitors can stick their hands inside and handle all types of critters, including sea cucumbers and sea squirts. A biologist will stand by to answer questions.

American Indian flute player and carver Paul Zimmer will perform and carve flutes. The Red Turtle Lodge storytellers will perform inside a tepee.

Naturalists and gardeners will enjoy the herb festival at Cobblestone Alley Antiques. Maryon Marsh will give herb cultivation seminars at 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

AT THE LIONS CLUB: A quilt exhibit featuring about 55 hand-made quilts will be inside the old railroad station depot both days.

FOOD: About 20 vendors will food ranging from mullet dinners to corn, fish and chips and ice cream. Bayfest is also close to some of the city's best downtown restaurants.

OTHER EVENTS: Bruce Hunt, Florida author and photographer, will exhibit about 20 of his nature photographs and sign books at the Book Nook, 545 N Citrus Ave. at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. Arts and crafts exhibits will be spread throughout the two-block area.

Entertainment will feature Indian stories at the Red Turtle Lodge and performances of bluegrass, country, hometown folk and gospel singers at the Bayfest Bandstand at the old train depot.

Bayfest 2001 is sponsored by the Crystal River Community Redevelopment Agency, the St. Petersburg Times, Waste Management, Superior Waste Services, Cottage Framer and Citrus Sheds.

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