Live music lovers tend to remember the first time her sweet and sultry voice filled their ears. As soon as Kelly Jarrard hit Mount Dora’s live music scene in 2014, she gained a bevy of loyal fans that embraced her heavily Motown-influenced mix of 60’s soul, jazz and funk.
The thirty-year-old is a free-spirited blend of Southern grit and girly-girl embedded in a light-hearted personality that belies her intense drive. After graduating from college, that ambition took the 23-year-old, self-taught guitarist from her hometown of Stockbridge, Georgia, to pursue her music career in Central Florida at the encouragement of a local music producer.
In addition to her creative endeavors, Jarrard’s personal life has also thrived in Lake County. In 2020, during the height of COVID-19, she married Michael McGowan, her boyfriend of three years. The Eustis-based couple recently dipped their toes into entrepreneurship with the opening of their mobile kayak rental business.
Mount Dora Buzz sat down with the upbeat singer-songwriter over coffee to find out what lies beneath her talent and sweet, fun vibe.
MDB: What came first: guitar or singing? KJ: Singing. I was a shy closet-singer and even hid it from my family. (She would later sing in the high school choir and graduated with honors from Clayton State University with a Bachelor's degree in Music with a focus in Vocal Performance. )
MDB: How old were you when you played your first paid gig? KJ: I was like 15 (laughs). It was at Mellow Mushroom in Stockbridge, Georgia.
MDB: Who are your three favorite artists? KJ:(Thinks for a bit) Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and Mayer Hawthorne.
MDB: What artist’s work would you never attempt to cover? KJ:(Sigh) Taylor Swift. I really don’t like current music too much.
MDB: What two artists would you like to grab a drink with? KJ: Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Pharrel...and Joss Stone.
MDB: What’s your dream performance venue? KJ:(Immediately and excitedly) Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre in Colorado.
MDB: Finish this sentence, “I’ll know I made it when…” KJ:I have an amazing beach house in Hawaii! (laughs)
MDB: After beginning to write your own music at 13, you cut your first album, “It’s Time” in 2019. Are you working on another album? KJ:Yes, I’m hoping to put out a Christmas album and another album of original songs.
MDB: You’re insanely talented, do you ever think of going on The Voice or another network talent show? KJ: I did! (laughs) I tried out for The Voice and America’s Got Talent. I sang for Howie Mandell and Sharon Osbourne, but didn’t advance.
To get to know Jarrard better, it was time to venture off-topic to see what else there is to this talented boho girl.
MDB: You have a lot of ink. Tell me about your tats. KJ: I got my first at 19 and it says “music” using different music symbols (on her forearm). Ninety percent of them are music-related tattoos that were done in Atlanta. (Jarrard’s large mermaid tat was chosen because she’s “always beachy and wanted to be a mermaid which, coincidentally, also sings.” The very cool abstract guitar on her thigh is her favorite so far.)
MDB: You’re still a newlywed. Finish this sentence: “The biggest change has been…” KJ: “Being a homeowner of a fixer-upper.” (Jarrard and her husband live in an historic bungalow in Eustis. )
MDB: You have a lot of positive traits, what’s your most annoying one? KJ: I’m too apologetic all the time!” (laughs)
MDB: Three words to describe yourself? KJ: Talented, fun, colorful
MDB: Three words your husband would use? KJ: Smart. He always tells me that. Trustworthy, and I think he would say beautiful.
MDB: What is your biggest music-related fear? KJ: Oooh. I’m afraid of puking on stage (laughs). It hasn’t happened before.
MDB: What is your biggest non-music related fear? KJ:(Ponders) Not being accepted.
MDB: What’s your guilty pleasure? KJ: Watching kids’ movies (laughs). I love Disney’s Aristocats and Little Mermaid, but I’d have to say Aristocats.
MDB: Tell me a secret about yourself? One that not a lot of people know. KJ: I don’t always want to be in the limelight.
MDB: What day of the year would you like to celebrate twice a year? KJ:(Smiles) My birthday!
MDB: What’s your biggest pet peeve? KJ: Two songs playing at the same time.
MDB: Who’s your celebrity crush? KJ: I don’t really have them anymore, but the last one was Jake Gyllenhaal.
MDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? KJ: Hawaii! (she’s never been)
MDB: Now it’s time for Mount Dora Buzz's speed round of “Would you Rather...”
MDB: Asheville or Cancun? KJ: Asheville.
MDB: New Wave or old-school country? KJ: New Wave.
MDB: Superbowl tickets or shopping spree? KJ: Shopping spree.
MDB: “Ring of Fire” or Earth Wind & Fire? KJ: Earth Wind & Fire.
MDB: Sailboat or speedboat? KJ: Sailboat.
MDB: Steak or soy? KJ: Steak.
MDB: Cats or dogs? KJ: Cats.
MDB: Hug or handshake? KJ: Hug.
MDB: Belly laughs or giggles? KJ: Belly laughs.
MDB: Eiffel Tower or Grand Canyon? KJ: Eiffel Tower.
MDB: Snow or sweat? KJ: Sweat.
MDB: Insta or Facebook? KJ: Insta.
MDB: Rat or roach? KJ: Ugh! Rat.
MDB: Fast & Furious or chick flick? KJ: Chick flick.
Jarrard can be heard regularly performing live at Mount Dora’s top live music venues, at Disney Springs and other regional venues. Her album “It’s Time,” with its seven original tracks, is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and other music outlets.
The City of Tavares starts its Independence Day festivities with a downtown parade along Ruby and Main Streets, but that’s just the beginning.
Following the parade, the family-friendly celebration will continue in Wooton Park with live music, community vendors, food trucks, a family fun zone, and a seaplane flyover. Live music includes performances by the Kenny Lives Band and the main act, Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute Band. Fireworks will follow at 9 p.m.
Seating is limited, so guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. Free parking is available in the parking garage at 200 N. Sinclair Avenue.
schedule of july 4th events
4:45 pm Street Party on Main Street begins before the parade.
5:00 pm Seaplane flyover Ruby Street & Main Street.
5:00 pm Parade begins going east on Ruby Street to St. Clair Abrams. Parade traffic turns north and continues west on Main Street to the roundabout.
5:00 pm Kids activities in Tavares Square commence.
5:00 pm Kids dance party in Splash Park gazebo begins.
5:45 pm The Kenny Lives (band) begins performance on the main stage in Wooton Park.
6:00 pm Kids dance party in Tavares Square begins.
6:30 pm Main Street opens to allow traffic to flow normally. The barricades closing off Ruby Street & Rockingham will remain until the conclusion of the event.
7:15 pm The main musical act, Slippery When Wet (The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute Band) begins performance on the main stage in Wooton Park.
The City of Eustis will host its Independence Day Hometown Celebration on Friday, July 2, in Ferran Park. The free, family-friendly event runs from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and entertainment will include the Central Florida Show Ski Team, a petting zoo, a water slide, and ax throwing, as well as live music by TC & Sass and more. Attendees can also enjoy a variety of vendors, food, and a spectacular fireworks finale over Lake Eustis at 9:30 p.m.
As part of the Independence celebration, the City will offer free admission to the Eustis Aquatic Center pool and splash pad from 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Bathing suits are required.
The night will be capped off at 9:30 p.m. with a display of fireworks over Lake Eustis. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. Pets are permitted, but must remain on a leash. Ferran Park is at 250 Ferran Park Drive in downtown Eustis.
Schedule of Events: 5:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. TC & Sass (Bandshell Stage) 6:30 p.m. – Central Florida Show Ski Team 9:30 p.m. – Fireworks over Lake Eustis Follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.
The City of Mount Dora’s annual Independence celebration, Freedom on the Waterfront, returns on Saturday, July 3rd. Festivities kick off with a parade downtown beginning at 4 p.m. and continues with live music at Elizabeth Evans and Gilbert Parks. A fireworks display over Lake Dora will culminate the event at 9:15.
The free event will feature three live music performances including Nashville recording artist Bailey Callahan, and sisters duo Diamond Dixie, as well as Sean Holcomb, the recent winner of Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Battle of the Bands.
ABOVE: Canaveral National Seashore (Photo by (Photo attribution rainbow - By Joneboi at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org
Anyone in Lake County longing for the sand and surf has likely hit the shores of New Smyrna Beach. A quick drive past the popular drive-on beach transports beachgoers to a completely different beach experience with less-travelled, pristine coastline.
The 57,662-acre Canaveral National Seashore (CANA) sits on a barrier island just minutes south of vibrant New Smyrna Beach and just past residential Bethune Beach.
This federally protected, 24-mile stretch of Atlantic beach is the longest expanse of undeveloped land along the East Coast of Florida and features gentle sloping dunes with coast grasses and sprawling sandy beaches on the east side and Mosquito Lagoon, part of the Indian River Lagoon system. The unspoiled seashore is home to protected gopher tortoises, over 300 bird species and more than 1,000 plant species.
CANA is known to be an outdoor recreational paradise with kayaking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, boating, hiking, nature watching, swimming and surfing when the waves permit. History buffs can explore the historic Turtle Mound or Seminole Rest Historic Site, both home to large Timucuan shell mounds. The cultural significance of CANA reflects human history from 2000 B.C. to the early 20th century.
The expansive seashore is divided into three sections. The southern part of CANA is Playalinda Beach, the middle section is Klondike Beach, and the northern section closest to Bethune Beach is Apollo Beach. Playalinda Beach has 13 small parking lots numbered from the south. The space shuttle launch facility is easily visible from the approach to Parking Lot number one.
Klondike Beach is the designated backcountry hiking area of Canaveral National Seashore. Visitors wishing to hike there must have a Backcountry Hiking Permit. To obtain a permit, speak with the Visitor Use Assistant on duty at Apollo Beach or the Playalinda Beach entrance station. 14 backcountry campsites along Mosquito Lagoon can be reserved at the national reservation booking service, www.recreation.gov.
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is located at the southern end of the barrier island occupied by CANA, so access to the seashore is often restricted during launch-related activities at the space center.
CANA is open from 6 a.m to 8 p.m. and parking is limited, so it’s best to arrive early. The cost to enter is $20 per car. Public wifi is available at the Apollo Beach Visitor Center. Cellular reception within the park is spotty and very limited in some areas. There is a small nude beach between areas 11 and 12, so visitors with families should be aware.
After a day at the beach, visitors can check for manatees at nearby Mary Bethune Park, and then grab a bite and cocktail at J.B.’s Fish Camp, an outdoor institution along the mangroves at Mosquito Lagoon. At the fish camp, visitors will find kayak rentals and fishing charters, but J.B.’s is best known as an iconic watering hole with a scenic deck, fresh peel-n-eat shrimp and other seafood specialties.
ABOVE: Brigade during a previous jump over Lake Dora (photo supplied by Chris Stephens)
It’s guaranteed to be an uncommon and impressive sight. Over eighty Airborne “jumpers” parachuting from a vintage Douglas C47 into Lake Dora doesn’t happen every day.
The jumps, organized by Phantom Airborne Brigade, will feature 88 total jumpers that are former military Airborne members and one active duty member of the military. The vintage military plane being used, Tico Belle, dropped troops on D-day in Normandy and is now based in Titusville.
The recreational Brigade, based in Zephyrhills, will have four airlifts with 22 jumpers per flight. The first jump is expected between 10 and10:30 a.m. After each lift there will be a 20 to 30 minute break for the plane to return to Leesburg airport to pick up the next lift of jumpers. The drops will start near the west end of Lake Dora near Tavares and continue east toward the center for the lake.
The group chose Lake Dora because it seemed to be one of the best lakes for public viewing. The drop area is a safe distance from observers and is closest to Wooton Park and Kalua Beach Bar, according to Chris Stephens, the event organizer.
The jumpers will descend over Lake Dora and be plucked from the water by volunteer boaters that will have attended a safety briefing prior to participating.
This year the 96th annual Founder’s Day Citrus Festival will take place at the historic Howey Mansion in Howey-in-the-Hills on Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The free event will include craft vendors, a food truck, pony rides, free mansion tours, and a Howey history exhibit by the town’s Historical Society in the ballroom of the Howey Mansion which was built in 1927 by orange grove magnate William J. Howey. Neglected for nearly a decade, the 20-room Spanish Revival home was restored and reopened for special events and tours in 2018.
Guests are invited to purchase raffle tickets for the chance to a free night stay at the Howey Mansion Guest House and for baskets filled with items donated by the vendors and local businesses with proceeds going to the restoration of the vintage Howey 1946 Mack fire truck.
Just a short drive from Mount Dora and Tavares, the mansion is located at 1001 Citrus Ave. in Howey-in-the-Hills. Follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.
Bikes and music will fill Eustis on April 23 and 24. The bike rally kicks off on Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The free, two-day event is bigger than previous years with four stages of live entertainment, bike shows, free bike parking and vendors in both Historic Downtown Eustis and beautiful lakefront Ferran Park. The line-up of live music will feature Wicked Serenity, Signs of Sacrifice, Big Engine, Jeff Howell Blues Trio, Crashrocket, Papa Wheelee, Southern Chaos, The Smokin' Torpedoes, Jen-n-Tonix, Greye, Time Machine, Sniper, and East Side Rock! Other entertainment includes The Wall of Death, ADV Fest and Mechanical Motorcycle.
On Saturday visitors can check out the Baggerz & Tailz Custom Bike Show downtown and adventure motorcycles will be on display in Ferran Park. Meanwhile, classic cars from all over Lake County will converge on Fountain Green.
It may be a small spot on the globe, but Mount Dora has an abundance of natural beauty and diverse wildlife, so it's no wonder the city's residents love to celebrate Earth Day.
Although Earth Day is observed every year on April 22 to raise awareness for the environment, Mount Dora is getting a jump on it and observing it a few days early. This year's free event will be held at Donnelly Park on April 17 beginning at 9 a.m. The day's festivities will include eco-friendly exhibits, plants, handmade products, yoga and a fundraising silent auction. The one-day event has multiple end times posted, but the earliest is 2 p.m. and the latest is 4 p.m.
Admission is free and proceeds from the one-day event help fund the purchase and planting of trees in Mount Dora. The first Earth Day, was organized in 1970 by founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, to promote ecology and raise awareness of the growing problems of air, water, and soil pollution.
Take your pick or try it all. This month’s Mount Dora Blueberry Festival occurs during the berry’s peak season so visitors can enjoy fresh berries and a variety of food and beverages made from the locally grown superfood.
Now in its fifth year, the downtown festival runs April 24 and 25 celebrates the growing agricultural importance of blueberries to Central Florida.
Local blueberry farms will sell their freshly picked berries, while other vendors offer blueberry plants, fresh blueberry pies, blueberry beer, cobblers and other edibles. Crafters, live music, a pancake breakfast, blueberry wine and a blueberry pie-eating contest will also be featured at this free two-day event.
Mount Dora Blueberry Festival runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days in Donnelly Park, downtown.
A big weekend is planned at the downtown Tavares lakefront this week. Planes, Tunes & BBQ is a free three-day event that kicks off on Friday April 9. The family-friendly festivities include live music, a twilight acrobatic airshow, seaplane competitions, BBQ, vendors, a family fun zone and a fireworks show on Saturday evening. Here’s the schedule of events: Friday, April 9th: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Lake County Fair. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker heading for the rides or prefer to keep your feet on the ground and take in the exhibits, here’s a quick cheat sheet of what you need to know about this year's Lake County Fair that runs April 8-17.
1. LOCATION Lake County Expo Center is located at 2101 N. County Road 452 in Eustis.
2. FAIR HOURS Weekday opening: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend opening: 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
3. BYPASS THE LINE Purchase your 2021 Lake County Fair admission tickets online to save a couple of dollars and skip the ticketing line. Just have your pre-purchased tickets in hand (paper or on your cell phone) and proceed to the VIP/Fast Pass Gate for easy entry.
3. SHOWS, EXHIBITS & CONTESTS Please note, some shows begin before the full fair opens. Creative arts and photography competitive exhibits run throughout the fair. Livestock shows run April 8-17 Pie-eating Contest: April 9, 7 p.m. Fair Pageant: April 11, 2:30 p.m. Spaghetti Eating Contest: April 14, 7:30 p.m.
4. REGULAR ADMISSION PRICES Adults: $9 Seniors: $7 Kids ages 6 to 11: $3 Kids ages 5 & under: Free with a paying adult. Note: Rides are not included in any admission prices. Separate wristbands can be purchased for rides (see below).
5. RIDE WRISTBANDS & ADMISSION SPECIALS Thrillseekers looking for unlimited rides can buy wristbands which are valid from open to close for the day of purchase. The cost of wristbands is additional to the cost of admission into the fair.
All Fridays & Saturdays: Wristband $25 per day.
Thursday, April 8 $20 wristband.
Friday, April 9 2-for-1 Gate/Rides Two people admitted for the price of one, and two people ride for the price of one.
Saturday, April 10 $25 wristband. Sunday Funday, April 11 $2 admission, $2 per ride.
Monday Dollar Day, April 12 $1 Admission, $1 per ride.
Tuesday, April 13 $18 wristband.
Wednesday Carload Night, April 14 $55 Carload admission & wristbands, each person must be in a seat belt, max 8 people. Regular tickets are also available.
A special day trip to one city on Florida’s west coast is guaranteed to make art lovers giddy. Two of the State’s most impressive art collections are permanently housed in St. Petersburg, just a two-hour drive from downtown Mount Dora. Beautiful downtown St. Petersburg is home to The Dali museum and the spectacular Chihuly Collection about a mile away.
Visitors can enjoy both collections on the same day if they take in the Chihuly Collection first and then make the quick mile trek to The Dali, which remains open until 9 p.m.
CHIHULY COLLECTION BY MOREAN ARTS CENTER
720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Just over a mile away from The Dali, art lovers will find another permanent collection from a world-renowned artist. The Chihuly Collection, presented by the Morean Arts Center, presents the bold and innovative glass works of internationally acclaimed American artist Dale Chihuly. The permanent collection is housed in a building that was designed specifically for the artist’s unique work to allow the art and architecture to work together to create a captivating experience of light, color and form. A much deeper appreciation is gained for the methods, potential and creativity of glass art after experiencing such an impressive display.
The intimate collection includes Chihuly’s large-scale installations like Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier and several impressive series works including Niijima Floats, Macchia, Ikebana, Persians and Tumbleweeds, which have captivated art lovers around the world.
Chihuly’s work is bold and awe-inspiring and leaves a lasting impression. The American artist’s impressive international installations include “Chihuly Over Venice” with his glass sculptures installed over the canals and piazze, and "Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem,” attended by more than one million visitors. “Chihuly Bridge of Glass” in Tacoma, Washington, and the “Lime Green Icicle Tower,” a 42-foot glass and steel sculpture housed in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts are two more of his spectacular large-scale works. Guests to the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg can continue their glass journey by watching local glass artists create new works in the Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop located at the Morean Arts Center. Glass Blowing demonstrations are offered at the top of every hour from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and Sundays, but there is no noon demonstration on Sundays. The Morean Glass Studio is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Adult tickets to the Chihuly Collection By Morean Arts Center are $20. Student tickets (with current student I.D.) are $13. Buy tickets here.
the dali (THE SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM)
1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Located on downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront, The Dali is home to an impressive collection of over 2,400 works by Salvador Dalí, the Spanish surrealist artist. The collection includes 96 oil paintings and the museum boasts a three-star Michelin rating.
This museum, housed in a contemporary architectural masterpiece, never disappoints. After visitors enter the awe-inspiring building with its blue reflective glass panels, they can ascend the winding modern staircase to enter the galleries where they will find Dali’s work as well as world-class visiting art exhibits.
Visitors that arrive by June 13 can experience Van Gogh Alive, an immersive and over-sized art installation that allows viewers to experience the art in a transformative way. The visiting art exhibition showcases more than 3,000 Vincent Van Gogh images of enormous scale viewed using high-definition projectors and synchronized to a classical score. In addition to the Dutch artist's iconic artwork, guests will also discover his inspiration via photos and videos.
The Dali’s distinctive gardens on the waterfront and Café Gala, featuring authentic Spanish cuisine, provide additional memorable experiences for guests.
Admission is $25 and there are discounts for students, seniors and youth. The Dali is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Buy tickets here.
Spring has sprung and beautiful weather means more time in the garden.
Inspiration for gardeners will be sprawled under Mount Dora’s oak trees for two days in April. An eclectic collection of garden treasures and plants will be available at the Vintage Garden Show on April 3 and 4. 100 local and out-of-state vendors will be selling everything from up-cycled outdoordecor, fresh herbs and plants, to architectural wrought iron, vintage patio furniture and a mix of curiosities just waiting to be repurposed.
Garden enthusiasts will also find a huge selection of ferns, succulents, flowers, and landscaping plants, plus gardening classes and demonstrations throughout the weekend. The show will also feature live music, plus food available for purchase.
The Vintage Garden Show runs both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Renningers Antique Center located at 20651 U.S. 441 in Mount Dora. Admission and parking is free.
A ton of fun is in the making when an event combines amazing talent, competition and a bit of creative enterprise.
Those ingredients will be abundant when dozens of live performance artists from across the US converge for the free Eustis Buskers Festival on March 27.
Busking, entertaining in a public place for donations, is sometimes credited with adding charm to intimate settings, like historic downtown districts. Eustis’ fifth annual festival will provide buskers a bigger stage, while treating residents and visitors to a free event packed with entertainment. The family-friendly performances occur from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at “Busk Stops” throughout downtown.
The day-long festival will feature performers such as musicians, dancers, comedians, jugglers, mimes, living statues, artists and acrobats. Each busker will perform two 30-minute acts throughout the day. Judges will rate each act and invite the top performers to the Grand Finale which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the bandshell at Ferran Park.
Top performers from each division will perform and compete for prizes including the $3,000 grand prize, a $1,500 People’s Choice prize, a $1,000 second prize, a $750 third place prize and 1st, 2nd & 3rd place divisional prizes.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app. Free subscriptions to Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates are available here.