Shortcuts January 23 2002

Tampa, Fla.
Mmmm, smell those funnel cakes, hot dogs and ... vomit next to the Zipper? It's time again for the Florida State Fair, complete with daily parades, livestock competitions and fair food that's sure to be seen again after a few turns on the Gravitron and the mini roller coaster. The featured entertainers this year include Travis Tritt, Merle Haggard and REO Speedwagon, (making their comeback via state fair performances?). Feb. 7-18. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. $3-$8. Crossroads of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 301. 1-800-345-FAIR or www.floridastatefair.com.

Birmingham, Ala.
Where can you find work by some of the most important artists of all time, including Rembrandt, Constable, Manet, Monet and Picasso — all in one place? European Masterpieces: Six Centuries of Paintings From the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia makes a pit stop at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the only venue in the Southeast to host the show. The exhibition spans more than 600 years and presents 87 of the most important old master and modern paintings by 74 renowned artists. Feb. 10-April 14. Gallery hours: Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $6-$12. 2000 Eighth Ave. North. 205-254-2565 or www.artsbma.org.

Charleston, S.C.
Get that libido in gear with oysters priced by the bucket at the 18th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival. Oyster slurpers must bring their own knives and gloves to crack open those meaty treats. If you can't stand the thought of letting a slimy oyster slide down your gullet, other foods and beverages are available at additional costs. The festival features oyster shucking and eating contests, a restaurant recipe contest and continuous live music. Feb. 10. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $8 in advance; $10 at the gate. Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Pointe Road. |1-843-577-4030 or www.tgcra.com.

-- Lea Holland??

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