Diverse street performers from all over the world will descend into Eustis for the seventh annual Eustis Busker Festival on Saturday, March 25. The performers, also known as “buskers,” will showcase their diverse talents at designated areas in the city’s historic downtown.
The day-long festival will feature performers such as musicians, dancers, comedians, jugglers, 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. The performances at this free, family-friendly festival take place at “busk stops” starting at noon in Ferran Park. The Grand Finale, featuring top performers from each division, will take place at 6:00 p.m. on the park’s bandshell stage. Performers will compete for the $3,000 grand prize. Spectators at the Eustis Busker Festival are given the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice Award and its $1,500 prize. To vote, event attendees present a receipt from any Eustis business from the month of March 2023. Those receipts are presented at the City of Eustis information booth in downtown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Voters will receive one voting ticket per $5 shown on the receipt with a maximum of 20 tickets per receipt. Voters will retain their receipts and the City will stamp each one shown in exchange for voting tickets.
On most days, sleepy Lake Dora is far removed from the glamour and nostalgia of old Hollywood. However, once a year her waters transport visitors back to the alluring Brat Pack era.
The downtown Tavares lakefront is gearing up for the 42nd Annual Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Festival, the largest classic wood boat show in the country. Hundreds of meticulously restored boats are typically displayed in the water and along one third of a mile of Lake Dora shoreline at Wooton Park during the multi-day event open to the public on March 25 and 26. Saturday is the only full day for the public to view all of the classic boats, while Friday features only activities for the boat club members.
The waterfront festival is the ideal place for dreamers and boaters to spend their day. In previous years, the Antique and Classic Boat Festival boasted eye candy that ranged from perfectly varnished Gar Wood race boats of the 1930s to intriguing concept boats like the Evinrude Lark, as well as vessels of fantastical design like the 1956 Lone Star Meteor and the 1955 Chris-Craft Cobra.
Another feature of the festival is the Nautical Flea Market, where dozens of vendors peddle everything from old boat parts and lanterns to shiny chrome accessories and wooden oars.
The event’s hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the show is from 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is $12. Free parking is available at the City of Tavares Parking garage. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, this month, click here. Discover the area's online entertainment calendar here. Also download the area's free mobile app.
The Central Florida city known for its vibrant festivals won’t disappoint in March. The historic streets of downtown Mount Dora will be awash with visitors again on March 18 and 19 during the annual Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts, the quaint city’s celebration of the arrival of spring. The free event showcases approximately 250 vendors selling a wide range of handmade creations, plus a variety of food vendors. In addition to the festival, downtown Mount Dora’s many unique stores and diverse restaurants will also be open during the festival to add to the experience. In 2020, Mount Dora’s Spring Festival, the event’s former incarnation, ranked #49 on Sunshine Artists Magazine’s list of Top 200 Contemporary/Classic Craft Festivals in America. The event was originally Mount Dora’s Antique and Collectible Show for several years.
The event’s hours are Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Admission is free and pets are discouraged. Arrive early for better public and private parking opportunities or watch for signs for the park-and-ride shuttles to the event. 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 followMount Dora Buzz's Instagram and Facebook page for more local info.
Downtown Tavares will once again be the festive spot for great food and live music when “Planes, Tunes, & BBQ” returns to Wooton Park on March 10 and 11. The family-friendly event features live music, seaplane competitions, BBQ, vendors, a family fun zone, a drone show, and more. Festivities kick off Friday evening with live music, barbecue, and a variety of food and merchandise vendors. Nashville singer/songwriter, Jess Kellie Adams, will open the show with a concert from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Crossfire Creek Band will headline the night with their one-of-a-kind, unique flair on country music from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturday, the savory smell of barbecue won’t be the only thing filling the air -- seaplanes will dot the skies to participate in flying competitions of “Seaplane-A-Palooza’” at 11 a.m., including the crowd-favorite “melon bomb drop” contest. Following the plane contests, live music begins with Jess Kellie Adams at 2 p.m., followed by Dallas Tyler and then Nashville singer/songwriter, Maggie Baugh at 7 p.m. A state-of-the-art drone show and fireworks display will follow.
American Idol winner, Chayce Beckham will cap off the night with a concert starting at 8:30 p.m. Chayce was the first to win American Idol with an original song, his semi-autobiographical track “23” shot to the top of numerous viral charts.
Admission is free to the event and concerts. Friday’s activities are from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday’s are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wooton Park is located at 100 E. Ruby Street in downtown Tavares.
ABOVE: Mount Dora Sailing Regatta (Photo by Ingrid Zagers, Z.ePhotography)
Once again, colorful sails will gracefully litter Lake Dora near the end of March. The 70th Annual Mount Dora Sailing Regatta is expected to draw dozens of boats over the two-day event spanning March 25 and 26. The Regatta is open to competitors of all ages and all classes of boats, including Optis, Lasers, 420s, Flying Scots, Hunters, Open Bics, Sunfish, Hobies, Wayfarers, and Catalinas. Three courses will be spread across a portion of Lake Dora to take advantage of the wind and provide ample space for competition. The race course for young competitors is closer to Lighthouse Point, while the two courses in the middle of the lake feature boats ranging from twenty-two-foot Catalinas to Hobie Waves.
Regatta activity picks up at the Simpson Cove launch area on March 24 as sailors begin launching their boats and settling up for competition. Weather and wind permitting, the first race typically kicks off Saturday in the early afternoon and the last race usually finishes close to 4 p.m. Typically, three to four races will be sailed that afternoon, depending on the weather. The 4th Avenue docks, Lighthouse Point, and Palm Island Boardwalk provide excellent vantage points for spectators. Sunday's first race usually starts at 9:30 a.m., and no races typically begin after 12 p.m.
The regatta, organized by Mount Dora Yacht Club (MDYC) is the longest running annual event in the city. MDYC, the oldest inland yacht club in Florida, held its first regatta in 1913. At that time the event featured powerboats and was reportedly such an exciting event that local businesses closed so everyone could attend. In 1953, the regatta transitioned to sailboats to alleviate a noise issue.
ABOVE: Mount Dora Arts Festival (Mount Dora Buzz file photos)
Historic downtown Mount Dora will transform its New England-style charm into a sea of vibrant art on February 4 and 5, when hundreds of the United States’ best artists show their works at the 46th annual Mount Dora Arts Festival.
The juried festival, organized by Mount Dora Center for the Arts, has been ranked among the top art festivals in the country and provides art lovers the opportunity to shop for fine arts, artisan jewelry, and pottery created by approximately 300 of the most talented professional artists from all over the United States. The festival awards more than $15,000 in cash prizes presented for the best 2D and 2D categories, as well as Best in Show.
Downtown Mount Dora’s many diverse restaurants will be open to satisfy the culinary cravings of visitors, plus all of the historic district’s unique shops will be open for more fun opportunities to find something special.
The free festival is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Visitors who arrive very early may be able to find free street parking within walking distance. Other patrons may find a space at many nearby private parking lots, or utilize the park-and-ride shuttles located at 900 Lincoln Avenue which are available for a fee. Due to large crowds and narrow streets, pets are strongly discouraged for their own well-being and that of other visitors.
Dinosaurs have once again made their annual trek to the lobby of W.T. Bland Library in Mount Dora.
For the fourth year, curious kids can experience the museum-grade dinosaur replicas that were crafted to scale by Planet Earth Sculptures, a Mount Dora-based company. These lifelike models reflect the newest scientific theories that many dinosaurs had fur and feathers. The precise features of the reproductions were vetted by academics in the field, as well as museum curators.
One of the forty impressive creatures is the Dilophosaurus, a 23-foot long predator who inhabited North America during the Early Jurassic Epoch, about 193 million years ago.
Mount Dora is only a pitstop for the dinosaurs, which are often part of a traveling exhibit at participating museums. Works from Planet Earth Sculpture are on display in the Smithsonian Institute and various natural history museums across the country.
The captivating dinosaur display can be viewed during regular library hours now through the end of March. W.T. Bland Library is located at 1995 North Donnelly. For more information, call (352) 735-7180.
Lake County artists will once again open their private working studios to visitors during the annual Off the Beaten Path Florida ArtsTours.
The local self-guided tour of eight participating studios takes place on February 11 and 12 and features 18 artists in 13 studios spread across Mount Dora, Tavares, Eustis, Leesburg and Weirsdale.
Visitors to the studios can watch demonstrations, enjoy light refreshments, and shop for unique, original works of art. Artists’ works to be displayed include paintings, sculptures, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, photography, printmaking, and woodworking.
On each day of the tour, all studios will be open free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here are the artists and studio addresses:
MOUNT DORA ARTISTS
Jane Slivka Acrylic painting 110 E. Third Ave., Mount Dora 32757 janeslivkagallery.com
Judie Lee Mixed media, painting, printmaking, clay, jewelry, and clothing 2314 Overlook Drive, Mount Dora 32757 artbyjudie.com
Sonya Watson Sterling silver fabrication, semi-precious stones 2314 Overlook Drive, Mount Dora 32757 Sonyawatsonjewelry.com
Ray Olivero Oil painting & photography 2300 Sheridan Road, Mount Dora 32757 Rayolivero.com
Richard D. Colvin Oil painting 2300 Sheridan Road, Mount Dora 32757
Paul Morris Photography and sculpture 1980 Hillside Drive, Mount Dora 32757 morphoto.com
Cathy Caine Watercolors & pastels 41 N. Donnelly Street., #208, Mount Dora 32757
Barbara Boyce Jewelry 411 N. Donnelly St., #206, Mount Dora 32757
Jackie Molsick/Wild Ibis Art Studio Watercolors, pastels, and collage 411 N. Donnelly Street, #208, Mount Dora 32757 jmolsick.com
Barry Bostwick Clay, glass, and mixed media 205 N. Grove Street, Eustis 32726 BarryBostwick.com
Jennifer Harper Relief Printmaking on Paper or Fabric 999 Lake Nettie Drive, Eustis 32726 Harperprintmakingstudio.com
Eric Schooley (Guest) Wood Sculpture 999 Lake Nettie Drive, Eustis 32726
The City of Eustis is gearing up to celebrate George Washington’s birthday with lots of festive activities scheduled. This year marks the 121st time the city will gather its community, neighboring cities and visitors to honor the country’s first president. GeorgeFest is the longest running celebration of its kind in Florida and the second longest running in the entire U.S. This year’s theme is “We the People.”
Here are some fun events to mark on your calendar:
CHILI COOK-OFF (FEB. 4) Teams compete to make the best chili in town for a chance to win cash prizes. Tasting starts at 3:00 p.m.
CARNIVAL (FEB. 24-26) The annual Georgefest Carnival will once again be set in Historic Downtown Eustis. There will be rides for all ages, along with food vendors and carnival games. (Dates and details had not been released by Eustis as of press time.)
FIREWORKS SHOW (FEB. 24) Eustis ends the first night of Georgefest with a bang! The GeorgeFest Fireworks Show takes place right over Lake Eustis starting at 9 p.m. Spectators gather at Ferran Park to enjoy the best vantage point.
DOG JOG (FEB. 25) GeorgeFest Parade kicks off with a one-mile Dog Jog, the much-loved tradition that shows off patriotic pooches as they take a morning walk or jog along the parade route beginning on the corner of Bay Street and Stevens at 9:45 a.m.
WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY PARADE (FEB. 25) The streets of Eustis will be flooded with families eager to view the artistic floats that will glide through Bay Street for the 121st parade. Parade route will run north on Southbound Bay Street in Downtown Eustis from Atwater to the Eustis Community Center on Northshore Drive. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m.
BASS FISHING TOURNAMENT (FEB. 19) Anglers will get their lines in the water early to compete for cash prizes. The annual tournament is in honor of Private First Class Derek Gibson, a Bronze Star recipient from Eustis killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 2, 2007.
TAYLOR HICKS CONCERT (FEB. 18) Enjoy a free concert at 7 p.m. at Ferran Park’s bandshell stage on the edge of Lake Eustis.
LITTLE TEXAS CONCERT (FEB. 24) Enjoy another free concert at 8 p.m. at Ferran Park’s bandshell stage on the edge of Lake Eustis.
Scroll down for the complete 2023 Eustis GeorgeFest schedule.
ABOVE: Huge fish lanterns in a pond at the Asian Lantern Festival (Mount Dora Buzz photo)
There’s still time to be awed by the innovative “Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild” happening at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. The evening festival, which continues through January 15, is the only event in Central Florida honoring the traditional lantern festivals celebrated throughout Asia for centuries.
The grounds of the zoo have been transformed with nearly a mile of colorful eye candy featuring 30 larger-than-life displays of illuminated sculptures crafted from metal, fabric and LED lights. Although the event features traditional red lanterns that symbolize good fortune, the main attractions are the oversized animal, plant and dragon lanterns that illuminate the grounds.
It typically takes guests about an hour and a half to stroll through all the lantern exhibits along the path and engage with some of the interactive displays. Visitors can opt to take longer or go around the path more than once. Since the event happens outside the zoo’s regular hours, the animals have access to their evening habitats and are out of the view of visitors.
The annual Sanford event is created in partnership with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc., the largest Chinese lantern festival producer in North America and one of the first companies to bring authentic Chinese lantern traditions to the U.S. and Europe. The company has produced 62 light festivals in zoos, parks, and venues around the U.S. in 32 cities. Inspired by Asian tradition and nature, the custom lantern designs highlight birds, land mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish in their natural habitats, as well as endangered and extinct wildlife to share important messages of conservation.
Tickets must be purchased online in advance and time slots can sell out, so it’s best to plan ahead. The last entry into the festival is 9:15 p.m. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is located at 3755 W. Seminole Boulevard in Sanford.
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.