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Celebrating the past
Chamber presents annual Citrus Festival
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From left, finalists David Amph and Connie Stewart Schuck pose with winners Josh Lovetere and McKelette Amph, finalists Rio Amph and Belinda Amundson Forstner, and the three judges following the 2013 Dancing with the Palm Harbor Stars competition at the Palm Harbor Citrus Festival. This year’s event is set April 3-6.
PALM HARBOR – In the latter part of the 19th century, pioneers made their way south to Florida. Warm weather attracted early settlers to the area now known as Palm Harbor. They came for fishing, farming and growing citrus.

To honor and celebrate the town’s heritage, the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce is presenting its sixth annual Palm Harbor Citrus Festival. The event takes place April 3-6 in historic downtown Palm Harbor, along Florida and Georgia avenues.

The event features two days of live music and a food truck rally. The four-day festival includes a pageant, dance competition, corn-hole tournament, old world carnival and lots of vendors.

Unlike last year, the chamber is coordinating this year’s event without the assistance of Old Palm Harbor Main Street. Last summer, the group’s board determined it was time to give up its paid staff, including director Debbie Thomas.

The 2014 Citrus Festival, however, is expected to bring out large crowds.

“We will have two nights of really good music,” said Christen Gonzalez, who, along with others, is coordinating the event for the chamber.

Gonzalez, who is the principal at Palm Harbor University High School, said the planned activities for the event are the same as last year except for the Palmsbury Bake-Off, which has been discontinued.

“We’re just trying to refine and polish up some areas (of the festival) and make sure we do them better,” she said.

Palm Harbor House of Beer is sponsoring the staging area for five different band performances, two of which include the Black Honkeys and The Greg Billings Band. J.J. Taylor will provide beer refreshments.

Other event sponsors include Bright House Networks, Arthur Murray, Jolley Trolley, Tampa Bay Times, P3 Agency, Tampa Bay Newspapers, AMG Group, Bringing Home Community News, Solar Sanitation, Mild-to-Wild Golf Cars and Jay Richmond Photography.

The Citrus Festival Queen Pageant is open to all females ages 14 to 18 who are in the ninth through 12th grades. Contestants must be a resident of Palm Harbor, Ozona or Crystal Beach, or attend either Palm Harbor University High School or East Lake High School. Contestants will be judged according to preliminary assessments, evening wear and one special interview question. The grand prize includes a college scholarship and the title of Miss Palm Harbor Citrus Festival Queen. The cost to enter the competition is $35.

Proceeds from the corn-hole tournament will be applied to scholarships for children attending summer camp. The tournament is sponsored by The Centre of Palm Harbor, which is managed by CSA Palm Harbor – Parks and Recreation.

Participating vendors are exhibiting Saturday, April 5. For more information on the festival, visit www.p­almha­rborc­c.org or call 784-4287.

Festival schedule

Thursday, April 3

5-10 p.m. – Carnival
6 p.m. – Dancing with the Palm Harbor Stars, Harbor Hall

Friday, April 4

4-11 p.m. – Carnival, food trucks
7 p.m. – On Stage, Greg Billings Band
9 p.m. – On Stage, the Black Honkeys

Saturday, April 5

10 a.m.-11 p.m. – Carnival, vendors, children’s area, corn hole tournament, food trucks
Noon-1 p.m. – Citrus Queen Pageant, main stage
1:30-3 p.m. – Dancing with the Palm Harbor Stars, main stage
5-6:30 p.m – On Stage, Galbraith Group
7-8:30 p.m. – On Stage, Ben Bryan Band
9-11 p.m. – On Stage, Kettle of Fish Band

Sunday, April 6

11 a.m.-6 p.m. – Carnival
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