At first glance, Lake Dora seems far removed from glitz and glamour. However, once a year she flashes her more refined and alluring attributes when visitors are transported to the glamorous Sinatra era.
The downtown Tavares lakefront is gearing up for the 30th Annual Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Festival, the largest classic wood boat show in the country. 250 to 300 meticulously restored boats will be displayed in the water and along one third of a mile of Lake Dora shoreline at Wooton Park on March 24-26.
Now in its tenth year in Tavares, the 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 1930's 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. The prestigious event, which draws between eight and ten thousand visitors, was previously held along downtown Mount Dora’s waterfront, and before that in Sanford.
Another feature of the festival is the Nautical Flea Market where eighty vendors peddle everything from old boat parts and lanterns to shiny chrome accessories and wooden oars. Due to the large number of stunning vintage boats for sale in the designated “Field of Dreams,” nautical dreamers are advised to bring just a little extra pocket change.
The event starts Friday March 24 at 9 a.m. and ends Sunday March 26 at noon. On Friday, boaters will have an off-site lunch from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., so many boats will not be at the docks during that time. Admission is $10 for the weekend. Free parking is available at the City of Tavares Parking garage.