By Jill Apel
Since 2005, with only a brief hiatus in 2013, West Pasco Chamber of Commerce has been bringing The Cotee River Bike Fest to Downtown New Port Richey. Every year they offer three days of great food, great music, and of course, bikes of every shape and kind with some of the most beautiful art work to be seen anywhere.
Many have been under the impression that this is an adult-only event, but throughout the day and into the evening we saw quite the eclectic crowd. There were small children with their parents, fingers and faces sticky from freshly made snow cones, as well as seniors relaxing in lawn chairs enjoying the music, with every age group in between being represented.
On the main stage in Sims Park were some of the best-known names on the local music scene today, including Bobby Friss, The Greg Billings Band, The Embry Brothers, The U.S. Stones, and The Black Honkeys. But the live music didn’t stop there. On the Downtown Stage there were ten bands over three days playing everything from Pink Floyd to Stone Temple Pilots. Down the street a few blocks was The Bearded Brothers, who I was able to catch from the beginning. This band is comprised of five highly skilled, extremely talented musicians who make it known from the first note that they are all about having fun and taking the crowd along for the ride. They give a unique flavor to everything they play, and after the first song you’ll know this “ain’t your Granddad’s country music!” Watching them, it was obvious that they know how to please a crowd! You can check them out at facebook.com/thebeardedbrothers.
Besides all the music, there were skill riders, stunt shows, a bikini contest, the Fire & Iron poker run, and an event called “Speed Date a Harley” where you could test drive several different Harley Davidson motorcycles. There was a fabricator on hand displaying two custom-made bikes: the Batcycle and an Ironman motorcycle. Fight for Life also was there serving drinks and raising awareness about the fight against cancer. Of course, there were bikes as far as the eye could see, and the attention and care that these owners pay is more than obvious. Many of these motorcycles aren’t just painted a beautiful color; they are true works of art that reflect of their owner. The thought, detail, and craftsmanship was just amazing.
In Sims Park there were vendors offering every kind of carnival fare from sausage and peppers to shark bites, and for desert, FUNNEL CAKE! If sitting down and ordering your meal is more what you’re looking for, a stop at one of the local restaurants along Main Street or Grand Blvd would fit the bill, serving everything from classic American with a twist at Blvd Beef and Ale, some of the best Italian food around at Mezzaluna, to a taste of the “old country” at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub. We opted for sausage, peppers, and onions on a fresh roll from one of the vendors and it was delicious.
As the night wound down we made a stop at the Cigar Bar, which has a really wonderful array of cigars to choose from. If a nightcap only is more to your liking, then there are several places to stop in and “wet your whistle”. We made our last stop of the evening at The Boulevard Lounge. With its small intimate setting and some of the most talented and experienced bartenders around, it was a perfect ending to a practically perfect day.
The Pasco County Chamber of Commerce hosts many events throughout the year in the downtown area. To see what is coming up later this fall, including all the excitement of Halloween, visit them at http://www.nprmainstreet.com/. With All Hallows Eve fast approaching, if exploring haunted places is your thing, a short trip north from Downtown New Port Richey in Hudson, Florida is The Haunted Angelus Scream Park. Several walk-through houses and a haunted hayride await. See http://www.hauntedangelus.com/ for more information. While this is not a Chamber of Commerce event, it is for an amazing cause, and from what I understand they put on a top-notch haunted attraction. They do have a haunted house for children five to ten years old, and they give out glow sticks to scaredy cats of all ages!
Photography by Jill Apel