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Boats, bands, seafood entice 10,000

The organizers combine a seafood festival with a boat show and entertainment to attract newcomers and longtime residents.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 14, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Douglas Clifford]
Karen Barefoot of Port Richey samples a boiled Cajun crayfish Sunday.
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Nevermind that it costs $65,000 to buy a Scarab Sport powerboat, or that it takes $450 to fill its 238-gallon gas tank. It can skim the water at 63 mph, and go from Clearwater to the Keys in about five hours.

That boat -- and about 100 others -- won adoring looks from people who strolled along Orange Lake during the SunTrust Boat Show this weekend.

At least 10 boats were sold at the show, and that's exactly what the organizers of the festival wanted.

Greater New Port Richey Main Street Inc. organized the combined boat show and Cotee River Seafood Festival. It was the first in what will be an annual event, said Main Street's executive director, Laura Turner.

"We've had a steady stream of people," said Turner. "We've already booked (the area) for next year."

The festival is a perfect way to showcase New Port Richey's downtown for newcomers to the area -- and give longtime residents a chance to enjoy something different, she said. The event featured arts and crafts, several bands, more than 38 boat dealers and, of course, seafood.

More than 10,000 people attended the two-day festival.

Friends Doug Pary and Jacki Whitacare brought two coolers, two folding chairs and a laid-back attitude to the festival. They stretched out in front of the bandstand, enjoyed a cold drink and listened to the band Rebel Pride, Sunday's headliner.

"We came here for a little bit of community support," said Pary, who moved to New Port Richey from California in March.

Whitacare added: "We would like to see more of the same."

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