Once again, Mount Dora will play host to Central Florida's massive and eclectic shopping experience this month. Three times a year Renningers Antique Center organizes the much-anticipated Antique Extravaganza, the mother lode of vintage and antique shopping, set in the rambling hills under majestic oaks. Make no mistake. There is antique shopping and then there is the “Extravo” shopping. That’s the term seasoned buyers and “pickers” use for the event that boasts over 800 dealers during its three-day run spread on a scenic portion of a 130-acre property on the eastern edge of the city.
Dealers from across the U.S. descend on Mount Dora to offer an endless variety of vintage finds and fine antiques at every price. Eager collectors, decorators and vintage shoppers from across Florida show up in droves to uncover treasures, find the best deals and practice their haggling. Extravos only happen the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of November, January and February. Loyal shoppers and the curious can roam the hills from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday admission costs more, but eager shoppers get first dibs on hard-to-find treasures. Sunday shoppers get better bargains, but some vendors do pack up early.
Gardeners and green thumbs will descend upon Mount Dora for the 28th annual Mount Dora Plant and Garden Fair on November 12 and 13.
The outdoor event is held under the tree canopy at Donnelly Park in the heart of the city’s historic downtown.
The free festival features native and exotic plants from nurseries across Florida, as well as vendors selling garden decor and nature-inspired gifts. Gardeners can expect to find blooming orchids, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, and camellias, as well as succulents, bamboo, bromeliads, herbs, bonzai and other specialty plant vendors. There will also be vintage garden items and statuary for sale to enhance outdoor spaces. Experts will be on hand to offer advice on plant care and gardening-related topics.
From its quaint holiday charm, beautiful decorations and festive seasonal events, there are many reasons Mount Dora is the best little Christmas Town in Florida. Perhaps best known during the holidays for its millions of twinkling lights that glisten throughout its downtown, this year Mount Dora is putting a new spin on its long-held tradition of Light Up Mount Dora.
On Saturday, November 26, Light Up Mount Dora will be held at downtown’s waterfront at Elizabeth Evans Park. Previously, the event was held in Donnelly Park across from City Hall. This year’s festivities of music and activities will begin at 3 p.m. and culminate with a fireworks show over Lake Dora after dark. At some point, Santa will arrive at the park via boat and the mayor will read “The Night Before Christmas”. Guests will be able to enjoy the impressive lights in the park, as well as the marina, plus stroll into downtown to take in even more festive holiday decorations.
Most of the historic downtown’s quaint shops will be open late, so guests can get a jump on their holiday shopping. The area’s many diverse restaurants and bars will also be open late to accommodate the throngs of visitors. Guests wishing to imbibe can pop into most local bars, order drinks to go and enjoy them while strolling among the Christmas lights on the waterfront. Elizabeth Evans park is located at the southern end of Donnelly Street at 100 N. Donnelly Street. Residents and visitors are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to the park as seating is very limited.
As fall temperatures slowly return, so does one of Central Florida's biggest events. The streets of downtown Mount Dora transform into a sprawling craft fair on October 22 and 23 with hundreds of crafters from across the country. The Mount Dora Craft Fair is a nationally ranked craft fair and features an eclectic mix of handmade items ranging from jewelry, photography and textiles to paintings, leather goods and woodwork. The two-day event has previously attracted approximately 100,000 visitors, according to its organizers.
RELATED: Best local Fall events & festivals Crafts aren’t all there will be in downtown Mount Dora that weekend. Its many unique stores and seemingly endless restaurants are also open during the craft fair’s hours to accommodate shoppers and diners.
The festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking restrictions begin downtown in the late afternoon on Friday to allow for the craft vendors to set up. Street parking is limited, so as visitors drive into Mount Dora, they are encouraged to look for signs for park-and-ride shuttles located near the different entry points into the city. Pets are not allowed inside the festival for their own safety and that of other visitors. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app. Be sure to follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram and Twitterfor more local info.
ABOVE: Corn maze at Long & Scott Farm. (Photo supplied by Long & Scott Farm Corn Maze Adventures)
Feeling brave and adventurous? Go get lost in the annual corn maze just south of Mount Dora. The 20th annual Corn Maze Adventure at Long & Scott Farm returns on October 1 and continues through December 11. Located approximately seven miles southwest of Mount Dora, the seasonal attraction reportedly brings an estimated 1500-2000 weekend visitors.
Guests that dare can enter the 6.5 acre corn maze and attempt to find their way out of the tall and twisting corn field that's designed in a pirate theme this year. If that’s not enough of a challenge, visitors can opt to tackle the maze at night. Whether day or night, there’s no need to panic. It's friendly fun, so before an anxiety attack kicks in, participants can raise a flag to surrender and be promptly rescued. There is also a half-acre mini-maze for smaller guests. The two mazes have lots of paths and plenty of room. Employees inside the maze and on a bridge monitor and help guests navigate the rows of corn. Visitors are asked to divide into groups of four to six people, with an adult in each group, and then enter the maze with a flag and a game sheet.
This year there will be themed night mazes from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.on select Saturday nights that include Noche Latina on October 15, Country Night on October 22, Family Friendly Halloween on October 29, and Saute to Our Veterans on November 12, which also provides free admittance to veterans all weekend.
The popular weekend attraction also includes a lot of fun outdoor activities for kids, including an oversized jumping pillow, 60' super slide, kids' zip line, a mist maze, plus catch-and-release fishing. Visitors can also take an audio tour of the farm on the hayride while learning about the farm and our history. Food vendors are onsite, as well as a country market and cafe. Scott's Maze Adventure is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. between October 1 and December 11. Visitors should get there early to avoid long lines. Latest entry is 3 p.m. The farm is located at 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora. Tickets are $15 online or $17 at the gate.
The festive tradition continues as East Lake County Chamber of Commerce kicks off the season with the opening of its fifteenth annual Pumpkin Patch on September 24.
Families can find their perfect pumpkins among thousands of the gourds of all sizes and many different varieties. There will also be family photo opportunities, Mount Dora High School Future Farmers of America Pumpkin Train, and other fun family activities. Proceeds from the East Lake Chamber of Commerce Pumpkin Patch benefit numerous local organizations.
On October 6, the pumpkin patch will host a free community screening of the Halloween classic movie, Hocus Pocus, on the big screen in the Chamber’s backyard. Refreshments will be available for purchase from Mount Dora High School Future Farmers of America. Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, friends, and family. Showtime is approximately 7:00 p.m.
The pumpkin patch is located at 24214 Sorrento Avenue (formerly SR 46) and will remain open through October 31. The hours are Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m. There is no fee to enjoy the patch, and pumpkin prices begin at $1.00.
ABOVE: Brittany Poe and Brian Stilke, co-owners of Olde Mount Dora Carriages (Mount Dora Buzz photo)
What’s old is about to be brand-new again in historic Mount Dora. After years of romantic horse-drawn carriage rides rolling through downtown, the popular tours came to an end a few years ago. Now a couple of local entrepreneurs are eager to return the nostalgic rides to the area area, but this time with an updated twist.
The shiny new carriages are vintage-inspired, but have a fun sense of glam and have replaced the horses with state-of-the-art and quiet electric batteries. Olde Mount Dora Carriage Company should be operational shortly after Mount Dora City Council approves an ordinance allowing the innovative vehicles to operate on some of the City’s downtown streets, according to Brian Stilke, co-owner of the new venture and an airline pilot. The ordinance is tentatively scheduled to go before the Council in September for a vote.
The other passionate owner is Brittany Poe, who has been in the service industry for several years and is also a local realtor. The two Mount Dora friends collaborated on the idea and eventually plan to have three carriages that operate 12 months a year. One of the new carriages will specifically be designated for downtown tours and another will be available for weddings, private events and custom rentals. The remaining carriage will be a spare for filling in service gaps.
“We both love the tradition and nostalgia of a horse and carriage and recognize the many limitations. We thought the electric carriages would provide the same traditional and nostalgic vibe while creating more possibilities and provide an operation all year round,” said Stilke, who believes Mount Dora will be the first city in the U.S. to offer the innovative electric carriage tours. Electric carriages can operate during warmer temperatures when horse-drawn carriages are sidelined due to the adverse effects of heat on the horses.
All three shiny white carriages feature ornate gold accents, vintage-inspired LED lighting and two diamond-tufted benches for passengers that comfortably seat four adults. Poe and Stilke thought of every detail, including a removable wood table, an ice bucket attachment and glasses for champagne and wine service.
Olde Mount Dora Carriage tours will highlight the area’s landmarks and points of interest, however the exact route of the 30-45-minute, pre-recorded tours will be determined after the City’s new ordinance is passed. The goal is for the carriages to depart and end in the heart of downtown at Sunset Park, which was redesigned with an area for carriages during a previous streetscape project.
Tickets are expected to be approximately $30 per adult and $18 per child, according to Stilke. Carriage rentals will also be available for custom rides and those prices will vary depending on the customers’ requests. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app. Be sure to follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram and Twitterfor more local info.
Say “uptown” and even some Mount Dora residents may be unsure just where it is. Later this month that’s about to change. The City of Mount Dora is hosting an event on August 20 that will help enlighten residents, entrepreneurs and developers about the area, its businesses and opportunities.
Uptown Saturday Night will be a public event highlighting the City’s Highland Street Corridor, the commercial area south of Fifth Avenue and north of Lakeview. The free event kicks off at 4 p.m. and will feature exotic cars on display and live music by the band Blender beginning at 5 p.m. on Liberty Avenue and Highland street.
Some of the area’s businesses, including Eden Abby Brewing Community, The Pizza Shop, Adrenaline Bike Works and Viva Liquors will be participating and at least one non-competing food truck will be on hand. Food, cocktails, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.
Uptown Mount Dora hasn’t seen new development in several years. In July, Mount Dora City Council passed an ordinance that changed the zoning of an 8.77 acre property located on the southeast corner of Highland Street and Camp Avenue with the hope the change will spark economic development in the Highland Street business corridor. The change rezoned the property to mixed use with up to 60-foot building heights.
During Uptown Saturday Night, staff from the City of Mount Dora will have information available about the area. Liberty Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic until the event ends at 8 p.m. The First Baptist Church parking lot will be available for free parking,
They’re back! The skies above Tavares will once again be dotted by veteran paratroopers as they descend into Lake Dora. On Saturday, July 23, 80 jumpers from the Phantom Airborne Brigade will awe onlookers during the Phantom Family Day Water Jump beginning at 10 a.m.
Members of the brigade will jump from the Tico Belle, a WWII C-47 Skytrain flown by Valiant Air Command in Titusville. The vintage aircraft’s history includes dropping paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne into Normandy on D-Day, participating in Operation Market Garden in Holland, and providing support for the Berlin airlift. Since the Tico Belle can only transport 22 combat-ready paratroopers at a time, the plane will make multiple passes over Lake Dora with groups of jumpers.
The first group of paratroopers are scheduled to jump over Lake Dora at 10:00 a.m., with additional groups jumping every 20 minutes. Four flights are scheduled with a total of eight passes over the lake with ten jumpers each. The ideal vantage point is by boat in the area allowed during the event and the shoreline of Wooton Park located at 100 E. Ruby Street in downtown Tavares. Free parking is available in the nearby parking garage located at 100 N. Sinclair Avenue.
Phantom Airborne Brigade is a veteran’s organization giving military-trained Airborne veterans the opportunity to participate in military static-line jumps after leaving active duty. Disabled and combat wounded paratroopers also participate in the group’s organized jumps. The veterans include members of the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 173rd Airborne, LRRP, Special Forces, 1Para, Rangers, and others.
The City of Tavares’ 4th of July Parade and Fireworks will be held Monday, July 4th in Tavares, starting with a small-town parade along Main Street. The family-friendly event features live music, community vendors, food trucks, a family fun zone, and other activities from 4:45 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
After the parade, Tavares will kick off the evening festivities with live music in downtown’s Wooton Park. The main act is a Florida band, Slickwood, that performs country music, along with Bluegrass and rock. The entertainment will end with fireworks over Lake Dora.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: 4:45 p.m. Street Party on Main Street begins before the parade 5:00 p.m. Seaplane flyover Main Street 5:00 p.m. Parade begins going east on Main Street from the Courthouse past City Hall to St. Clair and Abrams Avenue 6:00 p.m. Kids’ activities in Tavares Square commence 6:00 p.m. Kids’ dance party with interactive Live DJ in Tavares Square begins 6:00 p.m. Performance by the band “Slickwood” begins on the main stage in Wooton Park 6:30 p.m. Main Street opens to allow traffic to flow normally, will remain until the conclusion of the event. 9:00 p.m. Fireworks
Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. Free parking is available in the parking garage at 200 N. Sinclair Ave. in downtown Tavares.
The City of Mount Dora’s annual Independence celebration, Freedom on the Waterfront, returns on Sunday, July 3rd. The small town festivities are a slice of Americana and start at 5 p.m. at Elizabeth Evans Park at the end of Donnelly Street in downtown Mount Dora. Live music performances on the park’s stage will feature artist Bailey Callahan, plus the Red Mint Band. The patriotic evening on the waterfront will end with a spectacular fireworks show over Lake Dora at 9:15 p.m.
The free family-friendly event will also feature a Kids Zone with lots of fun activities and food in Gilbert Park from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Elizabeth Evans park is located at 100 South Donnelly Street. Shuttles will be available at the First Baptist Church Mount Dora at 1000 East 1st Avenue. Handicap parking will be located in the lower level of the parking garage on Donnelly Street.
Downtown Eustis will come alive on July 1 when the city hosts its Independence Day Hometown Celebration in Ferran Park. The free, family-friendly event kicks off at 5 p.m. and the festivities continue through 9:30 p.m. The evening’s entertainment includes the Central Florida Show Ski Team and live music by Johnny Wild and the Delights. Attendees can enjoy a variety of vendors, over two dozen food vendors, free ax throwing, and other activities.
As part of the Independence Day event, the City will offer free admission to the Eustis Aquatic Center pool and splash pad (weather permitting). Bathing suits are required. Check back at Eustis.org for hours of operation.
The night will culminate with an impressive display of fireworks over Lake Eustis at 9:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to the park to view the show.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: 5:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Ax Throwing 5:30 p.m. - Central Florida Show Ski Team 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Johnny and the Delights on the Bandshell stage 9:30 p.m. - Fireworks over Lake Eustis
Ferran Park is located at 250 Ferran Park Drive at the downtown Eustis lakefront. Pets are permitted, but must remain on a leash.
Mount Dora will join other communities across the country by hosting a Juneteenth Jubilee on Saturday, June 18. This year the annual family-friendly festival will be held at Cauley Lott Park from noon to 6 p.m.
The free community event will feature vendors, food, and live music including local artist Ruth King and Soul Therapy. There will also be cake walks, prize giveaways, face painting, balloon art, and water slides for the kids. Juneteenth, the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., has been a tradition since the late 19th century and is now recognized in at least 43 states.
June 19, known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Emancipation Day, is the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. Although Abraham Lincoln freed all slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, Texas was geographically remote and its slave owners ignored the new law. Only Texas slaves that escaped could enjoy freedom in the North.
June 19 marks the date Union General Gordon Granger arrived on Galveston Island with 2,000 troops to establish a federal presence in Texas and officially free its slaves.
Today, community Juneteenth festivals celebrate African-American freedom and achievement, encourage respect for all cultures, and strive to create new bonds of friendship and understanding. Celebrations often include public BBQs, live music, readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and singing of traditional spirituals.
Cauley Lott Park is located at 1717 N. Highland Street in Mount Dora.
This year Father's Day is June 19 and planning a fun day for Dad is easy when you live in Lake County. To help plan the perfect day, here's Mount Dora Buzz’s cheat sheet of the best local Father’s Day outings and restaurants.
OUTINGS FOR DAD:
Fishing Grab the poles and head to one of the local fishing spots for bass and crappie. Check out shady Trimble Park, Palm Island Boardwalk, Wooton Park and Simpson Cove.
Mount Dora Bike Trail Throw the mountain bikes in the car and take Dad for a workout on the Mount Dora Mountain Bike Trail. The trailhead is located at Lincoln Park just east of the dog park. Cost: There is no entry fee.
Boat Rides on Lake Dora If Dad is in the mood for a more relaxing day, chill on Lake Dora with a cruise on the Dora Queen, a New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat with a full bar and live music; or a guided tour of the Dora Canal on the Rusty Anchor or Premier Boat Tours. Cost: Approximately $15-$37 per person, depending on the option selected.
Nature walk and picnic at Trimble Park This scenic park is draped in a mature oak canopy and straddles Lake Beauclaire and Lake Carlton just south of Mount Dora. The 71-acre natural paradise has shaded picnic tables and benches tucked throughout. Cost: There is no entry fee to the park Location: 5802 Trimble Park Road, Mount Dora (Tangerine)
Wolfbranch Brewing & Maggie’s Attic If everyone in your brood is 21 or over, belly up to one of the 2022 Best of Mount Dora winners. For some cold craft brews, head to Wolfbranch Brewing, which was voted “Best Place to Grab a Beer.” If Dad is more of a Cabernet or Chardonnay kind of guy, head over to Maggie’s Attic, which won “Best Wine Spot.”
Emerald Cut Kayak Adventure This two-hour guided tour from crystal-clear Emerald Cut at Rock Springs Run is perfect for beginners or advanced paddlers. It’s a great way for Dad to enjoy lush nature with a sandy bottom beneath his paddle. Cost: $59 per person, all gear included. Location: King’s Landing, 5722 Baptist Camp Rd, Apopka, FL 32712
Father’s Day hike If Dad loves nature, pack a picnic lunch and take him on one of the beautiful nature trails in the area. More info
great local eateries for dad
Breakfast: Twisted Biscuit, Tavares
Burgers & Beer: Frog & Monkey Pub, downtown Mount Dora
Lasagna and pasta dishes: Olive Branch Mediterranean Bar & Grille, downtown Mount Dora
Pizza: Mount Dora Pizza & Subs, Mount Dora PizzAmore, Mount Dora Back Porch Pizza Bar, downtown Mount Dora
Seafood: Tiki West, downtown Tavares
Steak: Goblin Market, downtown Mount Dora The Back Room Steakhouse, Apopka
Ethnic meals: La Perla Tapatia Mexican Restaurant, Eustis Las Palmas Cuban Cuisine, downtown Mount Dora Momiji Sushi & Japanese Restaurant, Eustis (near Sorrento) Shiva Indian Restaurant, downtown Mount Dora
A special day trip can be the perfect getaway for Dad. Here are some nearby suggestions he’ll enjoy that won’t have you on the road all day:
J.B.’s Fish Camp, New Smyrna Beach DeLand Naval Air Station Museum Canaveral Seashore (more info) Apopka Wildlife Drive (more info) Florida Air Museum, Lakeland Bass Pro Shops, Orlando
Lake County is the place to be for country music concerts and barbecue in April. The annual fest, dubbed ‘Planes, Trains & BBQ,’ kicks off on Friday, May 13 in downtown Tavares with an evening of mouth-watering barbecue, country music concerts, plus a cornhole tournament and a variety of vendors. The fun continues on Saturday, May 14 with more concerts, barbecue and seaplane events.
The two-days of festivities at Wooton Park will also feature a Kids Zone, fireworks and an air show. The park is located at 100 E. Ruby Street at the downtown Tavares waterfront. Seating is limited in the park’s concert area, so visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. Parking is available nearby in the parking garage located at 200 N. Sinclair Avenue.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
FRIDAY, MAY 13
4:00 - 9:00 p.m.: Live music, BBQ, plus more food and merchandise vendors
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.: Crossfire Creek Band
7:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.: Drew Parker country music concert