When the dumpster arrives at Land O’ Lakes Community Park, that’s a sure sign that the carnival equipment to set up the Midway is soon to follow, according to Doug Hutchinson, coordinator for the Land O’ Lakes SwampFest.
SwampFest 2017 will feature a few new twists, according to Hutchinson, the longtime coordinator of the community fair.
First off, the event will be using Heritage Stage, the newly opened stage at Land O’ Lakes Community Park.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” Hutchinson said, noting the ones who seem most delighted about the stage are the dance groups that will be performing on it.
“When I told them that we were going to be on the stage, not under a tent, they were all excited,” he said. “It’s so good for the community.”
The entertainment lineup for this year’s event includes Nunes at Night, on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. and 3-Dom Band, on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. On Nov. 12, there’s a larger slate of entertainers, with Nicole’s Dance Center at noon; Show on the Road at 1 p.m.; Beyond Chaotic at 2 p.m., and Suncoast Dance at 3 p.m.
The event also is adding some food trucks this year, in addition to the foods that can be purchased on the Midway, Hutchinson said. Otherwise, the rides and the food on the Midway will be similar to those at the event last year.
There are also plans for a beer garden, Hutchinson said, but added that he was awaiting official approval.
Armbands for unlimited rides will be sold in advance for $15 and at the Midway for $25, Hutchinson said. Parking is free on Nov. 9, the preview night, and $5 on other days of the festival.
The event is getting more popular every year, Hutchinson said, noting it tends to attract between 500 and 750 people on Friday night and Sunday, and about 2,000 on Saturday.
On Saturdays, families generally come during the day, with a younger crowd at night, he said.
SwampFest started out as a community carnival, then evolved into the Flapjack Festival, which eventually moved to Dade City and then died.
This event is smaller than Flapjack was and that’s what organizers want it to be, Hutchinson said. “We want it to be more of a community fair.”
Proceeds from SwampFest benefit the venues that help sell the tickets and Land O’ Lakes High School’s athletic booster club, where they benefit the whole school.
“We don’t want to build something for one team and use all of the money for that,” Hutchinson said. “It’s better to use that money for items that benefit everyone.”
For instance, for a few years in a row, SwampFest proceeds were used to purchase equipment for the weight room, he said.
That benefits all students, not just athletes, he said. “They have a weightlifting class.”
Event proceeds also paid for the high school’s sign, which is out near Land O’ Lakes Boulevard, also known as U.S. 41.
“It takes some really dedicated people to pull this thing off,” Hutchinson said, noting there’s about eight or 10, who really do a lot of the work.
“It takes months to put it together,” he said, and then, at the event, there are scores of volunteers who help with parking, garbage collection and other chores.
Land O’ Lakes SwampFest
Where: Land O’ Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Land O’ Lakes
When: Nov. 9, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Nov. 10, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Nov. 11, noon to 11 p.m.; and Nov. 12, noon to 6 p.m.
Cost: Parking free on Nov. 9; $5 on Nov. 10 through Nov. 12. Armbands for unlimited rides are available for $25 each at the Midway; $15 each, in advance. They are available on the SwampFest website and at Land O’ Lakes High School, Sanders Elementary School, Pine View Middle School, Sugar and Spice Learning Center, and at the Village Lakes Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Wilderness Lakes Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and Sunlake Beef O’ Brady’s.
Details: Rides, games, food, live entertainment.
Published November 8, 2017