Katherine Garrison, 7, of Tampa, and Caleb Shanks, 8, of Hudson, present the rinds of their melon wedges during a watermelon-eating contest at Sparklebration at the Pasco County Fairgrounds on Thursday. Caleb won, with Katherine a close second. GARY S. HATRICK
BY GARY S. HATRICK Tribune correspondent
Published: July 6, 2013
Independence Day revelers gathered at the Pasco County Fairgrounds on Thursday for the annual Sparklebration, but sporadic rain kept the crowd smaller than usual. It started earlier this year with a Babies R' Red, White and Blue Pageant and continued with food vendors, face painting, balloon artists and outdoor games. Entertainment on the Dan Cannon Auditorium stage included Elvis tribute artist Billy Lindsey, of Tampa, Miss Gainesville Outstanding Teen Courtney Graham, of Dade City, and vocalist Corrine VanStraten, of Hudson, who sang the national anthem. Children and adults competed in a hot dog eating contest, a watermelon eating contest and a watermelon seed spitting contest. The contests were at the Back Porch Theater, which sheltered the contestants and audience when a heavy rainstorm passed over.
Pasco County Fair Association Vice President Dicky Brown said the association had hired extra entertainment for the additional hours of the event, but receipts were down by about 1,000 at the gate. "We did all the right things," Brown said, "but Mother Nature didn't get the memo."