It certainly didn't come as surprise to those who have strolled amid the over 400 exhibitors during Mount Dora Craft Fair, but this year the event earned the ranking of the 4th best Classic and Contemporary Craft Show in the entire U.S. The prestigious ranking is done annually by Sunshine Artist magazine, an artists’ publication which focuses on all aspects of shows and events from sales and artist amenities to the quality of the art or crafts.
Rankings were determined by compiling ballots from professional artists or crafters who rated the festivals according to their own gross sales.
The sprawling event is put on throughout the streets of downtown by VisitMountDora and its army of volunteers. The festival is unique due to its mix of quality craft vendors, lively entertainment and quaint Central Florida locale surrounded by quaint shops, diverse restaurants and scenic Lake Dora. Organizers estimate the two-day event attracts 100,000 people to the city’s historic downtown.
This year the 35th annual Mount Dora Craft Fair will be October 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Visitors interested in staying overnight are encouraged to make their reservations early at any of the different types of accommodations available.
This is the second time in recent years a Mount Dora Festival has been ranked in the top ten. In 2017, Mount Dora Arts Festival ranked seventh in the Top Fine Art Shows in the U.S.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, this month, click here. Also download the area's free mobile app.
Having first gained national recognition in the 1950s as one of America’s most courageous journalists, Mount Dora’s Mabel Norris Reese will soon be recognized with a bust sculpted in her honor. The effort to create a lasting tribute to Reese followed the 2018 Mount Dora appearance by author Gilbert King whose Pulitzer Prize-winning book“Devil in the Grove,” and its follow-up, “Beneath a Ruthless Sun,”broughtReese to the attention of readers around the world. Soon thereafter, Gary McKechnie, a local historian, and others founded the non-profit Mabel Norris Reese Tribute Fund to raise funds for the sculpted portrait.
King’s “Devil in the Grove” describes how Reese’s focus on local news changed from social events and city council meetings to the life and death struggles of the Groveland Four, four African-American men who in 1949 were falsely accused of raping a white teenager. When Reese began to challenge the brutal authority of Lake County sheriff Willis McCall, she became a target of his wrath. Bombs were detonated at her Sylvan Shores home, her newspaper office vandalized, a cross burned in her yard, and her dog poisoned. Using every resource at his disposal to intimidate Reese, McCall even launched a rival newspaper and warned advertisers not to buy space in Reese’s Mount Dora Topic. From her small town newspaper, Reese continued to expose the corruption of McCall and his deputies. In columns that gained national and international attention, she revealed his use of torture to coerce confessions and reliance on manufactured evidence to gain convictions. In 1954, she led the effort to find justice for the Platt children, judged by McCall and the county school board to be “negroes” and thus ineligible to attend Mount Dora’s whites-only schools.
In 1957 McCall and Lake County prosecutor Gordon Oldham framed Jesse Daniels, a mentally disabled 19-year-old, for rape and had him committed without trial to the state hospital for the insane in Chattahoochee. Their crime, documented in King’s “Beneath a Ruthless Sun,” prompted Reese and Jesse’s mother, Pearl, to launch a fourteen-year quest to secure his release.
The initial terra cotta sculpture of Reese is being sculpted by Jim McNalis, an artist recognized internationally for sculpting men and women of extraordinary courage. Reese will be one of the few women in the United States to be honored with a sculpture. In the feature “Breaking the Bronze Ceiling,”, CBS News reported that of more than 5,000 statues in America, fewer than ten percent are dedicated to women. The sculpture honor will be added to her December 2018 induction as the 40th woman named to the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame. Donations can be made to the project here. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, this month, click here. Also download the area's free mobile app.
What was once hidden and defunct now has new life. After several months of renovations, Living Drama Theatre opened in the former location of Eustis’ old two-screen movie theater. Vacant for several years, the shopping center space, tucked off U.S. Highway 441, first opened as a movie theater in 1960 and later transitioned to Florida Sunshine Opry in the 1990’s before eventually closing. In its newest incarnation, the 530-seat theater on U.S. Highway 441 will be home to live performances and classes in the performing arts. The new business is a family affair for owners Michelle and Joseph Duarte, the Mount Dora residents that operate the theater along with their daughter Victoria and sons Scott and Patrick. The Duartes are planning six to seven productions per season with local auditions. The first production was in July and the next show “The Outsiders”will be opening September 20th for two weekends of performances.”GodSpell” will follow, and later a “Back to the 80’s” show will to pay homage to the old movie theater and its patrons. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for children ages six to 12, and kids five and younger are free. Season tickets are $100 and include discounts on concerts and events and concessions at the theater. The theater will also offer dance classes starting in September, as well as drama classes starting in January 2020. Living Drama Theatre is located at 431 Plaza Drive in Eustis. Sign up for the free Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates here.For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.