Orioles invite fans to Sarasota SpringFest at Ed Smith Stadium

Today's the big day when pitchers and catchers finally report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex, marking the end of the offseason and the official start of the 2017 baseball season.

And to celebrate the first week of spring training, the Orioles are inviting all fans to the second annual Sarastoa SpringFest at Ed Smith Stadium this Saturday, Feb. 18. The free family-friendly event for all ages will allow fans to watch Orioles players practice on the back fields and enjoy games and interactive activities in the East Parking Lot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ed-Smith-Stadium.jpgThe games and activities include corn hole, giant Jenga and a speed pitch machine, topped off with a Q&A session with Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph at approximately noon. Fans can also visit the photo booth for a free photo featuring a custom Ed Smith Stadium background, and the booths of local partners Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota Orchestra and the Suncoast Blood Bank. Z105 Suncoast Classic Rock will be on hand to provide music, contests and games.

I know what you're thinking: "So many activities, what about food?" Well, Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally will be on-site offering a variety of food truck options for purchase including:

* Merica, serving gourmet burgers, award-winning gourmet hot dogs and hand-cut fries
* Vanchetta, serving Porchetta (slow-roasted Italian pork) and other fresh roasted items cooked on their rolling rotisserie
* Dochos Latin Bistro, offering their award-winning Cubans as well as other Latin-inspired menu selections
* Jimmy's Famous Seafood, offering their award-winning crab cakes inspired by Baltimore's popular seafood restaurant

Fans are invited to watch Orioles workouts on the back fields at the complex every day from Feb. 14 through Feb. 23 from approximately 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., leading up to the team's first spring training game against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 24. The first full-squad workout will be this Friday, Feb. 17, free of charge and with free parking available in the East Lot off of 12th St. and Tuttle Ave.

Spring training game tickets, as well as Orioles merchandise, will be available for purchase during SpringFest. Tickets are also available at www.orioles.com/spring and at the Ed Smith Stadium Box Office each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SpringFest is part of Sarasota 365, a host of initiatives through which the Baltimore Orioles and OriolesREACH demonstrate the ballclub's year-round engagement with the Greater Sarasota community. For more information on Sarasota SpringFest, visit www.orioles.com/springfest.

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