SwampFest, hosted by the Land O’ Lakes High School Athletic Booster Club, gives kids and adults a chance to have fun — but also helps raise money to benefit the high school and other local organizations.
This year, the event will feature a new carnival company, said Doug Hutchinson, SwampFest coordinator.
“It’s going to be Arnold Amusements. They’re a family oriented, family owned, carnival company. Right now, they’re doing the Hillsborough County Fair down in Brandon,” Hutchinson said.
“Last year, we had a little disappointment because the operator that brought the rides, brought just the rides. We didn’t really have a full complement of games … where it makes it more like a fair,” Hutchinson said.
Arnold Amusements will bring a full Midway, with games, rides and amusements.
The event will last four nights, from Nov. 3 through Nov. 6. Highlights include 24 rides, a magic act, and performances by Stonegrey, Vincent Randazzo, Nunes at Night, DJ Carlos, Nicole’s Dance Center, Show on the Road Tampa and Suncoast Dance.
Hutchinson said the organizers talked to teenagers to find out what they’d like, and they suggested a DJ because they want to dance, Hutchinson said.
The event will be at the Land O’ Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
SwampFest is an offshoot from Flapjack Festival, a popular Land O’ Lakes event that shifted to Dade City, and then was suspended.
After the Flapjack Festival moved, a group got together to organize SwampFest, said Hutchinson, who was the coordinator for the Flapjack Festival in Land O’ Lakes.
“We started having it the same weekend as Flapjack used to be. It’s not as big. Our goal is to try to make it more of a community-based fair,” he said.
The event raises money for the Land O’ Lakes High School Booster club, but it also raises money for other groups who sell pre-sale tickets.
Pre-sale armband tickets for unlimited rides are $15 each. On-site armband ride tickets are $25.
Locations selling the pre-sale tickets are: Land O’ Lakes High School cheerleaders, Sunlake High School (guidance office), Sanders Elementary School, Pine View Middle School, Sugar and Spice Daycare and Beef O’ Brady’s at Village Lakes, Wilderness Lakes and Sunlake.
The event has free admission, and generally attracts between 2,000 and 3,000 people, Hutchinson said.
This will be the second year that the event will be at the upgraded Land O’ Lakes Community Center Park.
Hutchinson can’t wait until the park gets its stage, which will be in time for next year’s SwampFest.
“It’s not easy getting some of the entertainment to come out there and play under a tent,” he said. With the stage, it will be easier to persuade musicians to come out to play.
The event was initially held at Land O’ Lakes High, but the community park offers a greater degree of visibility, creating a better opportunity to attract people who are traveling past the event, he said.
Proceeds from SwampFest are used by the booster club to benefit students at Land O’ Lakes High.
“For the first five years, we put pretty much all of our money that we made off of SwampFest into upgrading the weight room,” Hutchinson said.
The boosters also paid for the school’s blue and gold marquee sign.
“That’s a nice sign, and it was definitely overdue,” he said, estimating its cost at about $12,000.
The event is now in its seventh year, having skipped one year because of construction at the park.
It’s the kind of event that brings people together, Hutchinson said.
“The year that we didn’t have it, everybody was complaining because that’s kind of their annual alumni get-together,” he said.
For more information about SwampFest, visit LOLSwampFest.com.
What: A community festival featuring games, rides, entertainment and food
Where: Land O’ Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
When: Nov. 3 through Nov. 6 (See LOLSwampFest.com for more details)
How much: Free admission; pre-sale unlimited ride armbands, $15; on-site unlimited ride armbands, $25.
Published November 2, 2016