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A Creative Loafing Weekend

When I started doing freelance work for Creative Loafing, people started asking me questions, like, “What’s Creative Loafing?”

Creative Loafing is a free alternative weekly newspaper that covers news, arts & entertainment, food & drink, and music in the Tampa Bay area. Think of it as a weekend planner with some extra news and entertainment thrown in. Here’s how things go when you use Creative Loafing to help plan your weekend…


I picked up a copy of Creative Loafing at my friendly neighborhood Circle K, flipped to the do this section, and finalized my weekend plans. Of the many recommendations, I decided on Casa Tina’s Cinco de Mayo party, Tampa’s Riverfest, and the Oxford Exchange Book Fair.

Friday: Cinco de Mayo

Friday night I was in Dunedin celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Every year Dunedin’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa Tina, puts on a huge Cinco de Mayo party. They block off a section of Main St and parade down to Pioneer park with puppets hoisted in the air. The festival celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and Tina came out to thank everyone for their patronage. Afterwards, we danced to the beat of a 12-piece salsa band in Pioneer Park.

Tina leads the crowd into Pioneer Park.

Pioneer Park

Orquesta Infinidad

Saturday: Riverfest

On Saturday I crossed the bay into Tampa to celebrate their 3rd annual Riverfest. The day’s events included a Weiner Dog Derby, Hot Dog Festival, Hot Air Balloon Glow, and day-long concert.

We arrived late afternoon for the inaugural Hot Dog Festival. Nine local restaurants/establishments competed for the Best Overall Award, including Goody Goody’s, Sono Café, Waterworks Bar & Grill, Champion’s Sports Bar (at the Marriott), Zudar’s Bar & Grill, Sheraton Rivers Edge, Lowry Park, The Florida Aquarium, and Raymond James stadium. For a $12-13 ticket, you could enjoy three 1/2-dog samples and vote for your favorite.

Goody Goody slaw dog

Lowry Park Zoo’s volcano dog
The Sheraton’s Chicago dogs
The Florida Aquarium’s kielbasa with sweet pepper relish

As the Hot Dog Festival came to its conclusion, the hot air balloons came out. Rising flames came from all sections of the park as crews inflated their hot air balloons. Unfortunately, the weather was never good enough for take off, but we were soon distracted by The Spazmatics taking the stage.

The Spazmatics are an 80’s cover band you can dance to. They opened their set with Down Under and followed it with one upbeat pop hit after the next. Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun, Jessie’s Girl, Whip It, Tainted Love, Dancing with Myself, I Love Rock ‘n Roll, Bang the Drum All Day, and Footloose were all on the set list.

Sunday: Oxford Exchange Book Fair in Tampa

By the time Sunday came along, I was pleasantly exhausted. A nice, low key book fair seemed like the perfect thing to do, and it totally was. I listened to Jack Davis, Cathy Salustri (my editor at CL), and Lee Irby talk about their latest projects. Then I drove home with two brand-new, signed books.

Lee Irby with TBT Books Editor Colette Bancroft
Vintage Typewriter Expo

Excuse me if it sounds like I’m bragging, but I had a f-ing awesome weekend. All your weekends should be this awesome. If you can’t decide what to do, I suggest picking up a free copy of Creative Loafing next Thursday.

To find the closest copy of Creative Loafing, go to and input your zip code.

Or you can read it online @

Jennifer Ring
Jennifer Ring is a freelance writer & photographer living in the Tampa Bay area, on Florida's west coast, home to some of the best beaches in the state.

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