Ohhh my goodness y’all… we’ve got a weekend full of tailgating food, football (YES finally), beer, 5K runs and even a sneak peek of the new Ulele restaurant opening next week.  Get excited and start planning your weekend now with my top picks for fun things to do this weekend in Tampa Bay!

Tampa Bay’s Tailgate Taste Fest | Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park |Saturday, Aug. 23
Tampa Bay’s top 22 restaurants will showcase premier tailgating dishes at the inaugural Tampa Bay Tailgate Fest serving as the unofficial kickoff to the 2014 football season.  Event and activities (family friendly-kid stuff too) start around 11 a.m. and will run until 8 p.m. including the showing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers match-up versus the Buffalo Bills on a 40-foot video screen (4:30 p.m. kickoff). Tickets start at $20 (in advance) or $25 (day of) and include five food samples.  Hungry for more? Don’t worry … for $15 you can purchase additional sample wristbands the day of on-site or in advance online. Well, if there is one thing we know it is that the Tampa Bay Sports Commission would never host any event without there being a little friendly competition.  Restaurants will compete in food categories like: chicken, sliders, and unique side dishes.  Yours truly will be serving as a the food judge for the “unique side dishes” category (everyone that knows me, knows I am the queen of “sides” at any tailgate party) and I can’t wait to see what all the tasty tailgating treats the restaurants come up with! Bring it on y’all- I’m not eating all day for this! For the fancy tailgating types, there will also be a VIP area sponsored by Bern’s Steakhouse, Mise En Place, Firestick Grill and Copperfish which include unlimited premium tailgate tastings (cost $100).  For more information or to purchase tickets visit: http://tailgatetastefest.com

Dog Days of Summer | Café Dufrain | Saturday, Aug. 23
Sea dog Brewing Co. and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay will be taking over Café Dufrain this Saturday for a special furry four-legged friends celebration.  Adorable adoptables will be available looking for their forever home as well as beer samplings, prizes, beer specials, doggie pools and more!  The best part about this event is a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.  They are also asking for people to feel free to bring donations for the shelter in need for towels, kitty litter and puppy/kitty food.  ‘Pawty’ starts at 3 p.m. and goes until 5:30 p.m. For more information visit: http://www.cafedufrain.com/

Thunder at the Forum | Tampa Bay Times Forum | Friday, Aug. 22
Round 2 is set for Friday night where local boxers from the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota and Orlando will will compete in an exciting 10-figt card at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.  Chevelle “Fists of Steel” Hallback from Plant City will take on Victoria “La Reina de Guerra” Cisneros from Albuquerque, NM in a 10-round bout for the WBF Female Welterweight World Title.  Tickets range from $15-$40 for more match-ups and ticket information visit: http://www.tampabaytimesforum.com/

Zoo Run Run | Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo | Saturday, Aug. 23
Join Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for the 12th annual Zoo Run Run, a 5K run that winds through the Zoo and along the scenic Hillsborough Ricer.  Children can enter a special “Fun Run” which follows the 5K and walk-ups are accepted the day of the run.  Check in starts at 6:30 a.m., Race & Walk 7:30 p.m., Kids’ check-in 7:30 a.m., Kids’ Fun Run 9 a.m.  For more information visit: http://www.lowryparkzoo.com

Dead Poets Society screening | Tampa Theatre | Friday, Aug. 22
The Tampa Theatre is hosting a FREE event/screening of the Dead Poets Society in honor of Robin Williams.  The film stars Williams as an English teacher at an elite boys high school where he teaches the kids to “seize the day.”  The film starts at 8 p.m. and doors open at 7 p.m.  For more details visit: http://tampatheatre.org/

Coming up…

Ulele open for dinner starting on Tuesday, August 26
Be sure to follow us on Instagram and twitter @VisitTampaBay this Sunday for a sneak peek of some of the dishes being served at Ulele before the grand opening next week.  This may be one of the most-anticipated restaurant openings and we couldn’t be more excited to announce that Tuesday, August 26 Ulele will officially be open for dinner. http://www.ulele.com/