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Scaled-back Guavaween to include costume contest

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Published:   |   Updated: September 19, 2013 at 04:49 PM

For the second year in a row, Ybor City’s Guavaween festival will take place without its traditionally debaucherous parade.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that the Guavaween costume contest would return for its 28th year, but not the parade it had hoped to bring back to the annual Halloween festival.

This year’s smaller Guavaween will consist of local bands and the costume contest with a $1,000 grand prize, hosted by the original “Mama Guava,” at Ybor Centro on Oct. 26.

The costume contest coincides with the second annual Fantasma Fest, a separate Halloween festival, which includes the Little Monsters Pumpkin Patch at Ybor Centro, the Big Monsters Bed Race down Seventh Avenue and the multi-venue WitchCraft Beer Festival on the same day.

For the bed race, a section of Seventh Avenue will be closed off while 20 teams “drag race” by pushing wheeled beds down the street.

“It’s going to be one of the most ridiculous and funniest things you’ve ever seen,” said Richard Boom, a member of the Ybor Merchants Society, which is organizing Fantasma Fest. “We’re not trying to replace Guavaween or anything like that. But we know that Ybor City is ripe to be a Halloween destination, and we hope this event will have legs.”

The Mama Guava Stumble Parade had been a trademark of Guavaween for decades, but went away in 2012 when Guavaween was revamped into a multi-venue music festival. The Guavaween Music Festival, headlined by national rock band The Hold Steady, wasn’t enough of a success to repeat, Ybor Chamber president Tom Keating said.

In the years before the switch to the music festival format, a large portion of Ybor City was fenced off during Guavaween to create a wet zone where partiers paid an admission charge to drink on the street and watch the parade.

Earlier this year, the Ybor Chamber said it was planning to bring back the parade without the fences. “We just couldn’t put together the funds to pay for it since we don’t have the (fee at the) gate anymore,” Keating said. “But there’s still a lot going on and there’s still going to be a lot of people coming out to Ybor in costumes.”

The pumpkin patch, beginning at 3 p.m., will include trick-or-treating and pumpkin decorating for kids, and will be directly followed by the bed race and the WitchCraft Beer Festival. The beer festival will offer an all-you-can-drink wristband for $30, which will allow access to several Ybor venues.

The Guavaween costume contest begins at 9 p.m. The contest theme is “Monster Mash,” which celebrates classic monsters from the golden age of horror films. Bands will start playing at 7 p.m.

Boom said that Fantasma Fest also has plans to announce a zombie prom, tapas trail and costume ball happening the week of Halloween.

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