It’s been the city’s most treasured playground for almost thirty years. Gilbert Park’s play fort, shaded under large oaks across from Mount Dora’s lighthouse, has been home to countless games of hide-and-seek since its construction in 1990.
In recent years, the castle-type structure, designed for kids from ages five to twelve, has come under disrepair and now the city is ready to introduce a replacement due to the high cost of maintenance and replacement parts.
The new playground, recently approved by Mount Dora City Council, will feature a large pirate ship as the focal point with maze-like passageways, swings, role-playing elements, a rope gym and more creative features. The project is targeted for completion in October in time for the cooler months.
The new playground will be designed and built by Kompan, a Texas-based company. The $263,000 price tag will be funded by the Parks Impact Fee fund. Several council members were concerned about beginning a major project before the Parks Master Plan was complete, but in the end felt the park’s safety had to be the priority.
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It’s been talked about by local cities for years, but Eustis has finally stepped up. Seasoned skaters and novices alike will be thrilled to see a new skate park constructed in Lake County.
Work has begun on the approximately 9000 square-foot park in the city’s Sunset Island Park. The skate park will feature two distinct and challenging sections. A bowl on one side of the park will connect via a walkway to the other side which features a combination of ramps, grinding rails, stairs, and pads. The park is expected to be completed in September.
ABOVE: Bowl portion of skatepark
To fund the $500,000 project the City received a $100,000 grant from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program and the balance is funded by the City, including its Recreation Impact Fee funds.
ABOVE: Street-skating portion of park with rails, ramps and more.
The idea of a skate park first came to the City Commission from public input, including from a group of young skateboarders, about five or six years ago.
Upon the skate park’s completion, the city is planning to host a Lake County Skateboard Invitational Competition to showcase its new recreational amenity.
Sunset Island Skate Park will be located at 301 W. Ward Avenue in Eustis. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. Find out what's happening locally with just a tap on your phone by downloading the area's free mobile app. Free monthly issues of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.
Picnics, boating, swimming pools, and being on the opposite end of the calendar from the frigid bite of winter… what’s not to love about the summer season? However, as thermostats begin to rise this summer, so does the risk of serious heat-related illnesses and injuries. Read more
It's rapidly becoming a favorite season of the year. This year’s blueberry season kicked off the first week in April and is expected to continue through May.
The growing number of local u-pick farms currently has prices that range from $4 to $8 per pound for the sweet and nutritious treat. Eager blueberry lovers should pick to their heart’s content since blueberries are widely considered a ‘super food’ that’s low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants. Here's the list of local U-Pick blueberry farms and their current price per pound and u-pick hours:
Atwood Family Farm 25079 SE Hwy 450, Umatilla, 352-630-0145 $4 per pound u-pick, $5 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Weekends 8:30-4. Weekdays as available.
Blue Bayou Farms (organic) 8222 CR 48, Yalaha, 352-267-5277 $5 per pound u-pick or $7 per pound pre-picked. U-pick Hours: 9-5pm daily, except Monday.
Far Reach Ranch Heavenly Blueberries 1255 South Dora Blvd., Tavares, 352-343-7389 $4 per pound u-pick, $5.50 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Wed.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 10-4. Other offerings: A variety of blueberry jams, blueberry salsa and local honey.
King Grove Organic Farm 19741 CR 44A, Eustis, 352-589-2469 $8 per pound u-pick. U-pick hours are very limited, so call ahead.
Promise Farms 36777 CR 44A, Eustis, 352-408-1988 $5 per pound u-pick or $7 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Mon.-Sat. 9-3. Closed on Sunday.
Sand Hill Blueberries 31614 Bottany Woods Dr., Eustis, 352-636-8204 $4 per pound u-pick or $6 per pound pre-picked. Other offerings: Picnic area, hamburgers and hotdogs on weekends, swings, horseshoes.
Due to weather, field and berry conditions, u-pick hours and pricing can change, so it's recommended pickers call the farm prior to visiting.
“Paddles up!” will be the cry heard across Lake Dora when the Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival gets underway on March 10.
Three categories of teams participate in the races that are watchable from the shore of Wooton Park. Teams of dragon boat enthusiasts that practice regularly and race often will compete against each other in one group, while community teams whose members have a wide range of experience, or none at all, compete separately.
Dragon boat racing began in ancient China and is a fast-growing water sport with more than 2 million race participants worldwide. Crews consist of 10 or 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. The drummer provides the “steady beat of the dragon heart,” and crew members paddle in rhythm to the sound of the drum to ensure perfect synchronicity. The elongated boats are adorned with brightly painted dragon heads and tails.
The annual Tavares event is now in its 16th year and is free for spectators. The day’s festivities at Wooton Park begin with opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. followed by the start of the races, a car show, food and craft vendors and continual live entertainment in addition to the dragon boat races.
The area’s Rotary Club is the event’s sponsor and uses the proceeds from the teams’ registration, vendor fees and sponsorships to provide local students with scholarships.
Wooton Park is located in downtown Tavares at 100 E. Ruby Street.
When Byron Faudie and Tim Totten approached the Mount Dora Center for the Arts with an unusual proposal, their reputation as absurdists preceded them. The pair, known for signature events like Audio Game, Clue! Live Mystery Parties, the Escape Game in a Box, and the Amazing Race for Charity, pitched a temporary miniature golf course in downtown Mount Dora, with all the holes designed by local artists.
“We both love art and fundraising for non-profits, but we’re terrible golfers,” says Faudie. “So rather than skip another golf tournament, we decided to create one we’d actually want to play.”
Open play for the inaugural Pop-Up Art Golf course, which will be constructed on the tennis court in Donnelly Park will be Friday, March 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 11 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is five dollars per person.
Totten and Faudie, who together own the game company FunVenture, have already secured 9 holes for the course. Designs range from a recreation of the new Florida Hospital Waterman Emergency Room, as created by the hospital’s architect and contractor, to a hole created by local tiny-house builder Andrew Bennett. Artists from Mount Dora High School have submitted a design for a hole that reflects a local landmark, while another artist is busy creating a hole called “The Kitchen Sink.” The Pop-Up Art Golf course is a FunVenture project in close cooperation with the Mount Dora Center for the Arts and the City of Mount Dora Parks & Recreation Department. For more information or to enter the golf tournament, visit www.funventure.us ,
The local strawberry season is still in full swing and could continue through March depending on the weather.
Oak Haven Farms & Winery, a family-owned U-Pick strawberry farm in Sorrento, has seven acres of their twenty-acre farm available for picking. Priced at $3.10 a pound, visitors can pick rows of berries, then head inside where fresh strawberry milkshakes and shortcake are made on weekends. The price for pre-picked berries is $3.60 per pound.
Karen & Harry Stauderman, along with their daughter Lynn, have owned the farm and for over twenty years. Strawberries have been a staple of the farm, and seven years a vineyard was added for making sweet local wines.
The farm is family-friendly and features a free obstacle course, playground, short zip line, as well as a hayride on weekends.
Visitors should call the farm in advance for the U-pick schedule due to varying availability. Oak Haven Farms is located at 32418 Avington Road in Sorrento. Weekend hours are Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 11-5. Phone 352-735-1996.
Drivers should expect significant road closureS and delays this Sunday morning as runners take on the hills during the 6th Annual Mount Dora Half Marathon and 5k.
Watch for these significant road closures and detours this Sunday morning from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. when runners take on the hills during Mount Dora's Half Marathon and 5k. • Edgerton Crt. at Elizabeth Evans Park (Race start & end) • Donnelly St, from Edgerton Crt. to 5th Ave. • 5th Ave. from McDonald St. to Clayton St, • Clayton St. from 5th Ave. to Lakeview Ave, • Lakeview Ave., Clayton St. to Highland St. • Highland St. from Lakeview Street to Limit Ave. • Limit Ave. from Highland S.to Hillside Ave. • Hilltop Dr. to West 11th Ave. • 11th Ave. from Hilltop Dr. to Oakland Ave. • Oakland Ave. from Avalon to Overlook • Old Eustis Rd. • Morningside Dr. • Old US-441 • Lakeshore Dr.
Runners, take your mark! Mount Dora's Half Marathon & 5k will take over the streets of Mount Dora on December 17.
The event, now in its sixth year, has gained accolades amid serious runners across the state. In addition to over a thousand expected runners, the event will attract approximately 2500 spectators and feature vendors at the finish line at lakefront Evans Park.
Registration is available online, as well as in person the morning of the race at the park. Cost is $75 for the half marathon and $35 for the 5k run/walk. The first race starts at 7 a.m.
Drivers should anticipate traffic delays and detours throughout Mount Dora on the morning of the race.
Grab some shrimp off the barbie. Mount Dora’s third annual Seafood Festival takes place in downtown on August 26 and 27. The festival will extend throughout Edgerton Court and Simpson Cove, as well as waterfront Evans Park. This free lakefront festivalboasts plenty of seafood vendors, crafts, live music, and a pirate party on Friday night, the 25th.
In past years, seafood lovers grazed on fresh conch fritters, lobster, and crab legs after already gobbling up cajun crawfish, paella, shrimp and fresh fish tacos. This year’s festival-goers can expect the same. Read more