OCALA’S GUIDE TO ENTERTAINMENT, NIGHTLIFE & FAMILY FUN M AR 2022
CELEBRATE SPRINGTIME WITH THESE FUN FLORAL & FOODIE FESTIVALS
Equestrian Oasis on 26+/- acres
Privacy & Tranquility on 23.21 +- Acres
Gourmet kitchen with butler’s pantry. Spacious entertainment room. Screen-enclosed lanai. 5,300+-SF residence. 18-stall CB stable, office and a 2/1 guest apartment. Round pen with viewing area and arena. Private stocked lake with dock. $2,975,000
Recently updated 4,000-SF estate with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. Open floor plan with spacious great room plus stone fireplace. Pool. Zoned for horses or cattle. 9-stall barn with tack/feed room, office, and 2-bed/ 2-bath guest apartment. Arena. Covered storage building. $1,795,000
14 +/- Acres of Privacy and Tranquility!
Equine Estates – 14 +/- Acres
One-of-a-kind family compound on HWY 475. Paddocks with green pastures and beautiful oaks. Driveway leads to the two architecturally designed homes. Main home features 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with office. Second home offers 2 bedrooms, 2 baths plus office. $1,199,000
Located in a gated community close to the Florida Horse Park with access to the Florida Greenways and Trails. 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home plus screen-enclosed pool, covered lanai, and summer kitchen. The equestrian will love the 4-stall, center-aisle barn. $2,175,000
Let Joan Pletcher, Realtor, list and/or sell your property.
2022 Sold Properties- $7,856,560 2022 Pending Properties - $5,309,000 For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | firstname.lastname@example.org | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.
Let Me Show You Ocala!
Country Club of Ocala
Adjoins The Chernobyl Memorial Forest
Beautiful builder’s home overlooking the 15th fairway is being sold fully furnished. 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, formal living, formal dining, open family room with built-in cabinetry throughout the home. $1,750,000 3-car garage plus RV garage.
Private, secluded and architecturally designed home on 207+/- acres with majestic wilderness, nature views, trail riding, and fishing. 5-stall barn with cute 1 bedroom/1 bathroom apt. Enclosed workshop area. $2,497,500 This home is truly a nature lover’s dream!
Oak Creek Caverns
10+ Acre Gentleman’s Farm
Gated neighborhood close to Ocala’s amenities. 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, covered entry, large formal living room, formal dining, and family room with brick fireplace. Kitchen opens to family room. Inside laundry room and gated patio. Brand-new roof. $465,500
10+ Acre gentlemen’s farm located just minutes to premier shopping, dining, hospitals, and a short distance to the World Equestrian Center. Lit arena, 4-stall barn and 4 paddocks. Detached covered 3-car garage. $785,000
If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.
For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | email@example.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.
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OCALA’S GUIDE TO ENTERTAINMENT, NIGHTLIFE & FAMILY FUN M AR 2022
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CELEBRATE SPRINGTIME WITH THESE FUN FLORAL & FOODIE FESTIVALS
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Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival photos courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort; Horse photo by Kelly Powers courtesy of Peruvian Paso Horse Show; Flower image courtesy of Florida State Parks; Turkey and bean tostadas photo courtesy of American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good Initiative
CONTENTS // MAR 2022 FEATURE 22 // A BLO O MIN G G O O D T IME
Festivalgoers have plenty to look forward to this season in and around the 352.
6 // TO P 10 T H IN GS TO DO IN T H E 3 52 A handy guide to get you going and keep you busy this month.
10 // PASS IO N FO R P ERUVIA N PASOS
The Peruvian Paso Horse World Show is making its Ocala debut at the World Equestrian Center.
12 // FUN DIN G A CURE
Ocala Royal Dames stride into the future with HOPE.
14 // CO N C ERT S P OT LIG H T
Last-minute tickets and local shows you won’t want to miss.
16 // IN BLO O M
Ravine Gardens State Park is home to an impressive variety of azaleas, which bloom this time of year.
18 // A N IMA L EN COUN T ERS
The Petting Zoo Ocala is now home to dozens of farm and exotic animals, but, in reality, the zoo was created quite by accident.
CRAVE 28 // W H AT ’S FO R DIN N ER ?
These yummy dishes offer a combination of healthful ingredients and good taste your whole family is sure to love.
OCALA RV SHOW // MARCH 3-6
RETRO SOUNDS PRESENTED BY FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK // MARCH 4
This month’s downtown Ocala First Friday Art Walk will feature Retro Sounds, a music and art event, celebrating the ‘60s and the Motown era with a performance by The Motowners and a thematic intermission performance by Marion County Center for the Arts Dance. This free event will take place from 6-9pm throughout downtown. Attendees will enjoy activities with a 1960’s twist, such as local arts organizations providing free, hands-on art activities; visual artists working live throughout downtown; special sales at participating restaurants and extended business hours at local shops. In addition, a vintage car exhibit by the Ocala Street Cruisers will be displayed on the east side of the downtown square. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs. For more information, contact the City of Ocala Cultural Arts department at (352) 629-8447 or visit ocalafl.org/artwalk.
A HANDY GUIDE TO GET YOU GOING AND KEEP YOU BUSY THIS MONTH.
Ready to hit the road in a brand-new RV? Make plans to head to the Ocala RV Show at the Florida Horse Park to visit with participating RV dealers. The Ocala RV Show, hosted by the Florida RV Trade Association, is North Central Florida’s largest RV show. The show takes place Thursday through Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sunday from 10am-4pm. Admission is $5 for adults, and kids 16 and under get in free. Check out the show on Thursday for buy-one-get-one-free admission, and military and first responders get $2 off admission every day. Parking is free. Learn more about the show at frvta.org/show/ocala-rv-show.
SANTOS FAT TIRE FESTIVAL // MARCH 4-6
Hosted annually each March by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association in partnership with Florida State Parks and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, this festival takes place at the Santos Trailhead and features the EPIC 50 Ride on Saturday, camping at the adjacent Santos Campground, a huge vendor village with bike booths and food trucks, and skills clinics. Learn a new skill or tune up an old one at one of the free clinics. Sign up the day of at the bike clinic booth, and join small groups with certified mountain bike instructor Misty Mahoy of All About Balance. Check out the schedule and ticket information at santosfattire.com.
FLORIDA SPRINGSFEST // MARCH 5-6 Head to Silver Springs State Park from 10am-4pm to learn about Florida’s famous springs. The day will feature information on the history and science of the springs, sustainability, music, kids’ games, mermaids, food vendors and exhibitors and demonstrators, all for just the $2 park admission. Glass-bottom boat and tram rides will be available all weekend (not included with park entry fee). For more information, visit Florida SpringsFest on Facebook. CONTINUED ON PG 08
Retro Sounds photo courtesy of The Motowners; Florida SpringsFest - Photos courtesy of Florida State Parks
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AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS // MARCH 10-13
CAST AND BLAST SPORTSMAN’S EXPO // MARCH 12
One of the sport’s most prestigious events, Gatornationals is coming to the Gainesville Raceway once again this month. Gainesville Raceway has been host to record- and barrier-breaking passes in its five-decade run, including the first 300mph Top Fuel pass in 1992 and the first 200mph Pro Stock Motorcycle pass. The event will play host to the lucrative NHRA Allstar Shootout for Top Fuel drivers as well as the season debuts of the Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Mod and Top Fuel Harley classes. The Camping World Drag Racing Series will run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check out the schedule and ticket options at bit.ly/2022Gatornats.
A fan of the great outdoors? The first annual Cast and Blast Sportsman’s Expo is bringing the best of the outdoors to the World Equestrian Center this month from 9am-6pm. Enjoy hundreds of booths from local and regional vendors specifically dedicated to hunting, fishing, boating, camping and general outdoor activities. The expo is held inside with concessions available. Pre-register for free at castandblastexpo.com.
FOOD TRUCK COMPETITION & FAMILY FUN DAY // MARCH 12 Do you love food? Do you love supporting kids? Then head to Tuscawilla Park for Truck Off Deem-it, benefitting Kids Central, from noon-6pm. The event will feature family-friendly activities and entertainment, craft vendors, axethrowing, beer and wine, a car show and, of course, plenty of food trucks to feed your appetite. Admission is free, and tickets can be purchased to enjoy the food trucks, drinks and activities. Learn more and purchase tickets at eventsdeemit.com.
SOUTHEASTERN PRO RODEO // MARCH 18-19
L.E.A.F SERIES: BACKYARD BUTTERFLIES // MARCH 18 Discover the joys of butterfly gardening with Patricia Burns, a certified UF/IFAS Extension Marion County Master Gardener since 2016 and avid gardener with a talent for raising Monarch butterflies. Butterflies are more than beautiful; they are also beneficial. They are great pollinators for fruits and flowers. Learn what native flowering plants attract these delicate creatures and how to keep them coming back to reproduce in your backyard. The event takes place at 10:30am. There is a $5 registration fee, and advanced registration is required. Register at sholompark.org. 8
AFTER DARK IN THE PARK MOVIE SERIES: DREAMGIRLS // MARCH 25 It’s movie time! Join Ocala Recreation and Parks for free movies throughout the year at different City of Ocala parks. This month’s featured movie is Dreamgirls, a supremely entertaining adaptation of the Broadway hit about the ups and downs of a 1960’s girl group. Jennifer Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film, which is rated PG-13. Be sure to bring a blanket or chairs to sit on. Concessions, such as snacks, popcorn and soda, will be available for purchase. This month’s film will be show at the Tuscawilla Art Park at 8pm. No registration is required to attend the movie—simply show up, get comfortable and enjoy the show! Call (352) 368-5517 or visit ocalafl.org/recpark for further information.
Southeastern Pro Rodeo photo by Tanya Kozlovsky, KOFEstudio
Professional rodeo action returns to Ocala this month at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. With two opportunities to take in the action, the show features competition in saddle and bareback bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding—the most dangerous eight seconds in any sport. Gates open at 5:30pm, and performances begin at 7:30pm. Purchase tickets in advance online for a discount. Learn more at ocalarodeo.com.
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Passion For Peruvian Pasos Ocala plays host to many world-class horse shows over the course of a year. And now, a very special show, the Peruvian Paso Horse World Show, is making its debut in Ocala at the World Equestrian Center.
he team bringing this world-class competition to Ocala represents breeders and members from Rancho Santos Farm in Texas in conjunction with the Southwest Club of Central Texas. This will be the show’s sixth competition, THE SHOW PROMISES TO with previous BE A FUN, FAMILY-FRIENDLY competitions taking place in Miami. EXPERIENCE. YOU’LL BE SEEING Event organizer ANIMALS COMPETE AT THEIR Juvenal Pina, a breeder and owner “Peruvian BEST AND HIGHEST LEVEL. of Hacienda el horses are THAT’S SOMETHING MOST Alazán, has ridden considered the horses since he was smoothest riding PEOPLE DON’T GET A CHANCE just a kid. Mostly a horse because of TO SEE. hunter/jumper, Juvy this natural gait,” -JUVENAL PINA, EVENT ORGANIZER got away from the says Juvy. “Over horse trade when he attended college and played the years, breeders have eliminated faults and football. Then, a trip to Peru changed everything. perfected the breed.” “I went to a horse show in Peru and saw This April 16-17, the Peruvian Paso Horse these amazing horses,” he says. “It was very World Show will feature horses from all over the interesting. I had never seen a horse carry itself country, including those representing farms the way these horses do. I ended up buying from Missouri, Texas, Ohio, New York, South four horses and having them imported back to Carolina and more. Miami.” The horses were Peruvian Paso horses, “We are very excited to be showing in and Juvy has spent the latter half of his life Ocala,” says Juvy. “Ocala is centrally located breeding and caring for these horses, which and easy to reach, allowing us to obtain were originally brought to Peru by Spanish increased commitments from some of the best conquerors more than 500 years ago. ranches in the breed. In addition, the World Where some horses are known for their speed Equestrian Center is a beautiful, top-quality or power, the Peruvian Paso horse is known for its equestrian facility.” smooth, natural gait and lateral movements that The horses will compete in a variety of are 100 percent unique to Peruvian Pasos. classes, including gait classes, confirmation, 10
Photo by Kelly Powers, courtesy of Peruvian Paso Horse World Show
// B Y K A R I N FA B R Y- C U S H E N B E R Y
breeding and performance, among others. The first and second place winners from each class will qualify for the championship classes, which will start on Sunday. “This year’s champions will go against previous show, national or regional champions,” explains Juvy. “Whichever horse wins then becomes the champion of champions.” Juvy encourages everyone, even those who don’t frequent horse shows, to come and check out the event. In addition to the horse competitions, there will be vendors plus Peruvian craftsmen and artisans on-site. “The show promises to be a fun, familyfriendly experience,” says Juvy. “You’ll be seeing animals compete at their best and highest level. That’s something most people don’t get a chance to see.” Peruvian Paso Horse World Show // April 1617, 2022 // World Equestrian Center, Ocala // pph-worldshow.com
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Funding A Cure Ocala Royal Dames stride into the future with HOPE. // W R I T T E N A N D P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y R O N A L D W. W E T H E R I N G T O N
n Evening of Hope,” a charitable event hosted by the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research, was a big success recently, raising approximately $20,000. The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of HOPE, a lifesized fiberglass horse created for Horse Fever 20/20. Created by Paul Ware, a graphic and fine artist, photographer and illustrator, HOPE is done in a turquoise and copper design. The metallic paint and color motifs that the artist used were based on the idea of the “tarnish” of cancer and the hope of restoration. While Paul was working on HOPE, his vision became more personal when one of his family members started cancer treatment. Marion County Commissioner Michelle Stone gave a short speech at the charitable event. “Facing illness, especially when it’s life altering like being diagnosed with cancer is scary,” she said. “Doing so with many wonderful friends that are committed to eradicating cancer makes it easier, and for that, I am grateful. Every dollar that’s raised through the Ocala Royal Dames—to date over $4 million—goes toward finding a cure. Hope is a very powerful motivator. Hope means you’re expecting something good to happen at any moment. I live in a hope [that] a total cure for cancer will one day be discovered.” “I am so proud and humbled to be a part of the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research,” said Dr. Patricia Sokol, president of ORD. “This group of approximately 200 dedicated women has such a passion to find a cure for all cancers.” Joan Audette, the immediate past president of ORD, said, “Cancer touches every person’s life in some way or another, either through their own experience or the experience of their loved ones or friends battling cancer.” The Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research host charitable events throughout the year. To make a donation, become a member or find out more information, visit ocalaroyaldames.org. 12
Kathy Dinkins & Jody Micilcavage
Natalia Evan, Valerie Dailey, Rhoda Hemminger Evan & Jody Micilcavage
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Angela Durrell, Patricia Sokol & Helen Greene
Connie Brown, Nancy Porter & Kathy Dinkins
Amanda Daugherty & Jody Micilcavage
Dr. Richard & Celia Truesdale, Dr. David & Dianna Lammermeier
Col. Frank & Naida Rasbury
Mary Ellen Poe, Nancy Porter, Ronald W. Wetherington & Joan Audette
Sally Crass, Beth Bark, Sandy Davis & Jerri Shorey
Paul Ware & Michelle Stone
Kathleen & Steve Kollar
Sandra Wilson & Celeste Forsythe
Connie Brown & Karen Hatch
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CONCERT SPOTLIGHT THE MUDDS
La Cuisine French Restaurant // March 5
JEFF JARRETT Bank Street Patio Bar // March 13
SANDRA & ALEX LEKID Infinite Ale Works // March 17
NOAH HUNTON Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar // March 19
Dave Matthews Band
Gator Joe’s Beach Bar & Grill // March 26
Hard Rock Live Orlando // May 26 St. Augustine Amphitheatre // May 28
THE BIG BAD DUO
Amalie Arena, Tampa // April 5
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa // June 14
HOTEL CALIFORNIA – THE ORIGINAL TRIBUTE TO THE EAGLES
Amway Center, Orlando // April 11
VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville // April 24 Amalie Arena, Tampa // April 27
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // June 17 Daily’s Place, Jacksonville // August 4
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // May 6
VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville // June 20
MIRANDA LAMBERT & LITTLE BIG TOWN
VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville // July 8 Amway Center, Orlando // July 10
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // May 13
THE LUMINEERS Daily’s Place, Jacksonville // May 18
HALSEY MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // May 19
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // May 25
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
JACK JOHNSON MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds, Tampa // August 19
ROD STEWART Daily’s Place, Jacksonville // September 2 Amalie Arena, Tampa // September 3
THE KILLERS Amway Center, Orlando // September 14
Yellow Pony // March 30
Reilly Arts Center // March 25 Hotel California has toured relentlessly from the ‘80s straight through to today, setting the standard for world-class tribute productions as they went.
KENNY G The Sharon // April 2 His latest release, New Standards, could well be used to describe his four-decade body of work, a vision of jazz that helped launch both a musical genre and radio format.
JOHN DENVER TRIBUTE Orange Blossom Opry // April 9 Featuring all of John Denver’s biggest hits and the stories that created them, Carl Bennett weaves the show into a tapestry of folk music everyone will enjoy.
WIND-FM HIGHWAY TO HELL: THE ULTIMATE AC/DC TRIBUTE & ABSOLUTE DEF LEPPARD Circle Square Cultural Center // April 23 Experience iconic costumes, insane audience interaction and a stage show like no other with two tributes in one night. *Editor’s Note: Tickets were available for all concerts as of date of publication. Dates are subject to change at the discretion of the venue.
Photo by Sanjay Suchak, courtesy of davematthewsband.com
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In Bloom Ravine Gardens State Park is home to an impressive variety of azaleas, which bloom this time of year. // B Y M E L I S S A P E T E R S O N
Photos courtesy of Florida State Park
avine Gardens State Park is a 152acre park located in Palatka. The park contains steephead ravines surrounding Whitewater Branch, a spring-fed stream that flows east into the St. Johns River. The ravines, however, are not the only standout feature of this park, especially in early spring. The highlight of your visit to Ravine Gardens will most definitely be the large spans of unmanicured azaleas that can be found spread along trails and ravine sides, creating a spectacular display of blooms each year. Azaleas were chosen as the theme flower of the gardens in the 1930s during the garden’s development because of their brilliant beauty and the fact that they bloom during what was then considered tourist season, from December to May. Constructed at a time when Palatka was suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the gardens were the brainchild of local paving contractor Thomas Byrd Gillespie, who hoped the development of the gardens would bring tourists to town. Using his own funds, he paid landscape architect Richard Forester to create a plan for the gardens, and on July 4, 1933, the gardens were officially opened. By January 1934, Forester reported that there would be 95,000 azaleas in the gardens by the end of the project. At one point, it was claimed that Ravine Gardens had the most extensive single collection of azaleas in the world. It is believed that the gardens in 1934 included 64 of the known 72 varieties, with shades ranging from pure white to deep crimson. Today, the park grounds still preserve hundreds of the original azaleas planted by Forester and Gillespie. Surveys are currently being conducted to identify the different species that remain in the park. To date, up to 14 different varieties have been identified. “The bloom season for the azaleas ranges from late December to early March,” says Terri Newmans, park manager of Ravine Gardens State Park. “The bloom time is largely dependent on the weather. When the area has
a warm winter, the blooms can start as early as December. However, when the area has cold winter with several freezes, the blooms may not begin until late February early March.” Beyond the azaleas, visitors to the park during early spring can also see citrus, camellias, red buds, flowering dogwoods, Chickasaw plum and various smaller Florida natives, such as painted leaf and beautyberry. The formal beds often have a variety of coldweather annuals, such as snapdragons, pansies and gerbera daisies. “By late spring and summer, most of the significant azalea blooms have passed,” says Terri, “although you may see the white azaleas, as they are often the last to bloom. Gardenia flowers
are also usually wrapping up their blooms, and most of the blooms within the park’s interior during this time are wildflowers. Magnolias are also often in bloom, and seasonal non-natives are usually found in the formal gardens.” If you’ve come ready to explore, consider one of the four hiking trails in the park. The Ravine Loop Trail is an easy 1.8 miles on a paved road that winds around the top of the ravine and over a spring-fed stream, while the strenuous Azalea Trail is 2.5 miles and features suspension bridges and an unbeatable view of the ravines. Ravine Gardens State Park // 1600 Twigg St., Palatka // (386) 329-3721 // floridastateparks.org
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Animal Encounters The Petting Zoo Ocala is now home to dozens of farm and exotic animals, but, in reality, the zoo was created quite by accident.
// B Y K A R I N F A B R Y- C U S H E N B E R Y
riginally, my husband, Luis, and I trained animals for the circus,” says Owner Marcia Palacio. “Then a friend went into foreclosure and dropped animals off at our farm. Friends in the circus and zoo industry would ask us to take care of their retired
animals, as well. It just escalated from there.” With 8 acres of farmland, Marcia and Luis have dedicated their lives to caring for animals. The majority of the animals at the petting zoo are rescues, and the duo, along with one employee and an army of volunteers, work from sunup to well past sundown
to make sure the animals are living their best lives. The zoo offers a unique, up-close-andpersonal animal experience. They have the typical farm animals, including cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, llamas, horses and more, plus the zoo is home to a huge variety of other animals, including squirrel monkeys, lemur, skunks, foxes, a kangaroo named Captain, an African porcupine, camels, a tortoise, a vulture and more. They even have a resident camel, Bella, who, at press time, was ready to give birth to her baby. “The animals in general are just so cool,” says Marcia. “There are so many rewards to caring for the animals and running the zoo. It’s wonderful to see kids and adults alike interacting with the animals. Animals have a soothing, magical effect on people.” The farm animal area is open for visitors to go in and pet the animals and take photos with and feed them (bags of feed are available for purchase). Marcia jokes to just be prepared for a few animal kisses. The animals are friendly and love to interact with their human visitors. And sometimes the camels like to spit! Exotics are kept in their pens and caged areas that are available for viewing, but if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, animal encounter tickets are available with certain creatures. “The kids can learn educational information about and handle the hedgehog, ferrets, iguana, bearded dragon and snakes,” says Marcia. “Adults can interact with racoons, a kangaroo and squirrel monkeys who love to sit on your shoulder and eat Lucky Charm’s marshmallows.” Marcia encourages everyone to come explore the zoo. “It’s a fun, healthy place to be,” she says. “You’re outside breathing in the fresh air. Plus, by coming to the Petting Zoo Ocala, you’re helping all the animals be provided with food, shelter and veterinary care.” The zoo is open weekdays, except Tuesday, from 10am to 4pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am to 5pm. Marcia’s must-see when stopping by? Although she admits she loves all the animals, she confesses that she has a soft spot for the monkeys, especially the capuchins who live in the house with her and Luis at night. “They’re like our babies,” she says. Petting Zoo Ocala // 11150 West Highway 40 // (352) 300-6688 // pettingzooocala.com // The Petting Zoo Ocala mobile unit is available for private events, birthdays and school events.
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FESTIVALGOERS HA VE PLENTY TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS SEASON IN AND AROUND THE 352.
By Melissa Peterson
pring is here, and with the change in season comes some of our favorite annual events. With many of these festivals being canceled due to Covid over the last two years, they’re coming back better than ever—and you won’t want to miss out. So, break out your calendar and free up your weekends. Here’s a rundown of the 352’s can’t-miss spring events.
THE VILLAGES BALLOON FESTIVAL: MARCH 4-6
The Villages Balloon Festival will be held at The Villages Polo Club and featured around the Spring Polo Season Opener. After seeing the world-famous polo matches, enjoy balloon competitions and nightly glows. The event will also feature food trucks, vendors, a free fun zone, strolling entertainment, live music, an antique car show and, most of all, hot air balloons. 22
The balloon glow will take place nightly between 7-8pm. Tethered balloon rides are $20 for adults and $10 for children, cash only. Tethered balloon rides are booked on-site on a first-come-first-served basis and are booked at the tethered rides payment booth. Vendor row will open at 2pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Bring your own lawn chairs, as seating is limited. thevillagesballoonfestival.com
HABITA T OCALA STRA WBERRY FESTIVAL: MARCH 5
This popular Ocala event returns for its eighth year from 9am-5pm at the McPherson Complex. The event provides visitors a family-fun atmosphere with vendors, games, rides, bounce houses, car show, pet contest, pie-eating contest, entertainment and lots of strawberries. The event benefits Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. habitatocala.org/strawberryfestival
FLORAL CITY STRA WBERRY FESTIVAL: MARCH 5-6
Every year, the Floral City Strawberry Festival celebrates its tasty namesake with a full weekend of fun that has been a local tradition for generations. The Beer & Wine Garden by the main stage will offer multiple selections of beer and wine, while the kids’ area offers an extensive variety of inflatables and bounce houses, the wildly popular aqua tumble bubbles and the always challenging rock-climbing wall. One festival classic is the tasty pie-eating contests, held both days. All ages can compete, even the little ones, in ageappropriate categories. With strawberries being the star of the festival, hundreds of flats of strawberries made into delectable strawberry shortcakes for all to enjoy will be available, and flats of strawberries will be ready to take home. gostrawberryfest.com
Photos courtesy of Kanapaha Gardens
LEESBURG ART FUSE FESTIVAL: MARCH 12-13
The Leesburg Art Fuse Festival features artists, performers and authors for a twoday festival held on Main Street in historic downtown Leesburg. The festival takes place from 10am-4pm each day and will feature visual, performing and literary artists from the Southeast region. Both admission and parking are free. leesburgarts.com/art-festival
KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS SPRING GARDEN FESTIVAL: MARCH 19 Gainesville’s premier horticultural event, the Spring Garden Festival features 125 booths offering plants, landscape displays,
KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS SPRING GARDEN FESTIVAL garden accessories, arts and crafts, educational exhibits and, of course, food. Also featured are a children’s activities area, live entertainment and live auctions. Admission is $10 adults and $5 for kids ages 3-13. kanapaha.org/spring-garden-festival
RAINBOW SPRINGS ART FESTIVAL: MARCH 19-20
Held in downtown Dunnellon, over 30 artists will display original works in all types of media. Visit the art gallery and talk to artists about what they do while you shop, browse and enjoy! Parking and admission are free. Donations from the Rainbow Springs Art raffle will support the Art Education Program to continue offering events and classes to the public and our community. rainbowspringsart.com
MOUNT DORA SPRING FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CRAFTS: MARCH 19-20
Hand-craft exhibitors and fine arts artists will come together for this annual festival. Arts and crafts will be available for purchase, and the exhibits will line the walking district of Mount Dora. The festival is presented by Visit Mount Dora and will take place from 9am5pm both days. There will also be children’s activities, food vendors, wine tastings and live entertainment. Well-behaved pets are allowed on leashes, and there is no admission fee to attend. mountdoraspringfest.com
MARION COUNTY DA Y: MARCH 26
Join your fellow Marion County residents at the McPherson Complex from 10am-2pm to celebrate our country’s 178-year history with food trucks, local arts and crafts, fun activities and more. Admission is free, so bring your friends and family and listen to presentations from local historians and view artifacts from Marion County’s history. Kids of all ages will enjoy a bounce house, petting zoo and other fun activities throughout the day. Find the event on Facebook for additional details.
MCINTOSH GARDEN SHOW AND SALE: APRIL 2
Garden- and plant-related vendors will bring a variety of plants, trees and flowers to this annual event. Food and activities for children will be available, and drawings for garden items and décor will be held throughout the event. The McIntosh Seedlings Garden Club’s booth will feature herbs, shrubs, indoor plants, veggies, perennial plants, garden accessories and more. Handmade garden decorations, signs and artwork will also be for sale. mcintoshseedlings.com
NEWBERRY SPRING FLING FESTIVAL: APRIL 9
The Newberry Main Street Spring Fling Festival will take place in downtown Newberry from 9am-4pm. The event will feature tons of craft MAR ‘22
BROWNWOOD PADDOCK SQUARE ART & CRAFT FESTIVAL: APRIL 16-17
This art and craft festival highlights the talents of many unique crafters, providing the area with one of its most enjoyable spring traditions. Come meet and visit with some of the nation’s best crafters while enjoying the charming streets of this spectacular community. Find great one-of-a-kind gifts and more while listening to live music as you peruse the displays. The festival takes place from 10am-5pm each day. artfestival.com/festivals/ brownwood-paddock-square-art-craft-festival
FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NA TURAL HISTORY’ SPRING PLANT SALE: APRIL 22-24
The museum’s Earth Day plant sale is one of the largest of the year, featuring more than 100 species of Florida- and pollinatorfriendly plants. Discover which pollinator species you can attract and learn about the butterfly-friendly plants that work best in your landscape. Accent, host, native and nectar plants are available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit. The event takes place from 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday. floridamuseum.ufl.edu/event/plant-sale
MARION COUNTY MASTER GARDENER SPRING FESTIVAL: FESTIVAL MARCH 12-13
Our area’s largest all-in-one plant sale and garden expo, this event takes place at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion from 8am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-4pm on Sunday. Hosted by UF/IFAS Extension and the Marion County Master Gardeners, the event will feature Florida Friendly tropical plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs; vegetable plants and seeds; garden décor; and food trucks. Hourly gardening education sessions will take place in the Recreation Hall, and all your plant questions can be answered by a Master Gardener at the mobile plant clinic. Admission is $2, and kids 12 and under are free. Purchase tickets in advance at https://bit.ly/3AVTNv8. We spoke with Co-Chairpersons of the Spring Festival Pam Schmitt and John Holcombe who answered a few questions about the event.
WHA T CAN VISITORS EXPECT FROM THIS YEAR’S SPRING FESTIVAL?
Expect a crowd! In 2019, there were 7,000 attendees. This is the first time we are offering tickets in advance, through Eventbrite. The Southeastern Livestock Pavilion will be transformed into rows of vendor booths, both under the roof and in outside areas. You will be greeted at the entry gate and receive a brochure with a map and guide to the vendor booths and scheduled activities.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM AND THE HISTORY OF THE SPRING FESTIVAL. The Florida Master Gardener
CEDAR LAKES WOODS AND GARDENS ANNUAL GARDEN SHOW CEDAR LAKES WOODS AND GARDENS ANNUAL GARDEN SHOW AND SPRING FESTIVAL: APRIL 30-MA Y 1
Enjoy live music throughout the day, and visit vendors from all over Florida selling plants, arts and crafts, food and more. As an added bonus, visitors can experience the beautiful botanical paradise Cedar Lakes always offers at a discounted admission price. The event takes place from 9:30am-5pm both days, and 24
program started in 1979, and Marion County Extension Service was among the first to initiate the program in 1981. In 2019, the Spring Festival celebrated its 25th year. It started out as a small garden show and has now grown to fill the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion and the surrounding grounds. Through the years, the purpose has remained the same: to provide residents with the opportunity to meet a large group of horticulture-related vendors all under one roof and to offer educational opportunities provided by Master Gardeners and other experts.
HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED THE SPRING FESTIVAL THE LAST TWO YEARS? In 2020, Covid caused the festival
to be shut down just before opening. In the interest of public safety, we skipped the event in 2021. During those two years, Master Gardeners’ activities were very limited—both with the public and with each other. Now, we are so excited to again work together as a group and to invite the public to the 2022 Spring Festival.
WHA T TYPES OF PLANTS ARE FOR SALE DURING THE FESTIVAL? Natives, orchids, butterfly gardens, trees, fruit trees, annuals, perennials, tropical, shrubs, herbs and mushrooms… just to name a few.
WHA T ELSE IS THERE FOR GUESTS A T THE FESTIVAL BEYOND THE PLANT SALES? There will be many educational
booths representing community services, natural resources, Florida Friendly Gardening, etc. Master Gardeners and vendors will present topics ranging from orchids and roses to vegetables and bluebirds. In the interest of public safety, there will not be an indoor KidZone this year, but we are actively planning for outside activities for children, including a live butterfly tent. We are also excited to welcome the University of Florida’s Mobile Outreach Clinic. The “Health Care on Wheels” bus will be here to provide health screenings, including blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol levels and pulse oximetry. They will also have Covid vaccines available. Look for the bus near our parking lot—you can’t miss it. And… there will be food trucks!
WHA T IF I HA VE A QUESTION ABOUT THE PLANTS I PURCHASE A T THE FESTIVAL? Throughout the year, Master
Gardeners staff an Extension Center Plant Clinic, Monday through Friday. There are also two remote Plant Clinics at the Dunnellon and Belleview libraries. Customers call or walk in with all types of horticultural questions and problems. Master Gardeners and Extension Agents use research-based information from University of Florida to problem solve and make recommendations. The same services will be available in 2 locations at Spring Festival. Bring your gardening questions and also look for information on how to care for your newly purchased plants.
Photo courtesy of Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens
and food vendors as well as fun for the kiddos. newberrymainstreet.com
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FESTIVAL LA TINO: MA Y 21
The second annual Festival Latino in downtown Ocala is back. The event will highlight different Latin American countries through live music, artisanal work and food trucks. Located at Citizens’ Circle, this will be a day of fun for the whole family. Parking and admittance to the festival are free. Find the event on Facebook for additional details.
BEYOND THE 352
There’s fun to be had if you’re willing to embark on a daytrip. Check out these springtime events that are worth the drive.
SEA WORLD’S SEVEN SEAS FOOD FESTIVAL: EVERY THURSDA Y, FRIDA Y, SA TURDA Y AND SUNDA Y THROUGH MA Y 8
With over 180 dining options, from international cuisines to imported craft beers and unique wines, guests will have the opportunity to sample from more culinary markets that ever before, including Caribbean offerings and delectable sweets. You’ll also be able to take in a diverse lineup of live music, including rock, country, Latin, Christian and more. If you’re looking for an upgrade, consider the Seven Seas Food & Beverage Sampler package, which allows you to try any combination of food and drink samples. You can also purchase reserved concert seating to get access to the best seats in the house. seaworld.com/orlando/events/ seven-seas-food-festival
Guests can see live music at the America Gardens Theatre with the Garden Rocks Concert Series. While you’re there, don’t miss the beautiful topiaries displayed throughout the park created and pruned by a talented crew of Disney horticulturists as well as The Goodness Garden Butterfly House to observe several species of butterflies up close. The festival is included with park admission, but certain behind-the-scenes tours might be an extra cost—see the website for details. disneyworld.disney.go.com
FLORIDA STRA WBERRY FESTIVAL: MARCH 3-13
Back in full swing this year, the Florida Strawberry features rides, livestock shows, ongrounds entertainment, concessions, exhibits and the wildly popular live entertainment the festival is known for. Gates open at 10am and close at 10pm daily. Admission costs $10 for those 13 and over, $5 for kids ages 6-12 and free for children under 5. There will be special Moonlight Magic midway hours on Friday, March 11. After closing at 10pm, the festival will reopen at 10pm and run through 2am. Weekends and Monday the rides will be open until 11pm. The Kiddie Korral will run 10am until 10pm daily. Check the website for a full schedule of live entertainment. flstrawberryfestival.com
WINTER PARK SIDEWALK ART FESTIVAL: MARCH 18-20
The festival made its debut in 1960 and has become known as one of the most prestigious outdoor art festivals in the country. Produced by an all-volunteer board, the annual event typically draws in more than 300,000 visitors each year. Over 1,000 artists from around the world apply to the festival, with 225 being selected to exhibit their pieces. Categories include watercolor, leather, metal, sculpture, drawings and pastels, photography, clay, graphics and print making, and more. There will also be live music and food vendors. wpsaf.org
APOPKA ART AND FOLIAGE FESTIVAL: APRIL 23-24
EPCOT INTERNA TIONAL FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL EPCOT INTERNA TIONAL FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL: THROUGH JULY 4
Celebrate spring at Walt Disney World’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. 26
This free, family-friendly event will feature juried art and crafts from award-winning artists and crafters. Top-notch plant specialists will showcase an array of locally grown foliage. Attendees will enjoy live music and entertainment from a variety of amazing performers. Home Depot will present a kids’ area to stimulate the minds of the youngest festivalgoers. apopkaartandfoliagefestival.org
FLORIDA STRA WBERRY FESTIVAL SPRING FIESTA IN THE PARK: APRIL 2-3
Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, the tradition returns for its 33rd year to showcase the beauty of springtime at Lake Eola. Some of the most talented artists and crafters around from Central Florida and around the country will line the streets around the park. Visitors can also savor the flavors from a variety of food vendors and enjoy live entertainment for the whole family. fiestainthepark.com
OLD FLORIDA CELEBRA TION OF THE ARTS: APRIL 9-10
Welcoming only 100 high-quality artists and about 15-18,000 visitors annually, this Cedar Key event radiates a relaxed and friendly atmosphere often missing in larger venues. This free event benefits the Cedar Key Arts Center in addition to local non-profit and Cedar Key School groups, who serve delicious food, beverages and goodies during the festival. The event takes place from 10am5pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. cedarkeyartsfestival.com
FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL: MA Y 27-29
This three-day musical celebration, held at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, features a wide variety of music that reflects on the state’s cultural heritage. The event will include music, dance, stories, arts and crafts and plenty of food. The festival will feature a folklife area that will highlight performances and demos that celebrate the diverse lifestyles found in Florida through music, flavors and sights. There will be demonstrations and workshops dedicated to keeping cultural traditions alive. Learn to call a square dance, collect your ancestral history and support native plant and animal life. floridastateparks.org/FloridaFolkFestival
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival photos courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort; Midway photo courtesy of Florida Strawberry Festival
admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children ages 6 to 13 and free for children under 6. cedarlakeswoodsandgarden.com
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What’s For * Dinner?
TUNA PASTA CASSEROLE Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative
These yummy dishes offer a combination of healthful ingredients and good taste your whole family is sure to love. // C O M P I L E D B Y K A R I N FA B R Y- C U S H E N B E R Y
• • • • • • • • • •
4 oz dried whole-wheat rotini pasta (about 1 1⁄2 cups) nonstick cooking spray 16 oz frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 1 pouch (11 ounces) low-sodium chunk light tuna 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) low-fat, low-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup 1⁄2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers 1⁄2 cup fat-free half-and-half 1 tsp all-purpose, salt-free seasoning blend 3⁄4 cup crushed low-sodium, whole-grain crackers 1 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Using colander, drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 2-quart glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Stir mixed vegetables, tuna, soup, roasted peppers, halfand-half and seasoning blend into pasta until combined. Transfer to baking dish. Top with crackers and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes, or until casserole is warmed through and topping is golden brown. 28
EL TOREO Two Locations: 3790 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala // (352) 694-1401 // Mon-Sun 11am-10pm // 3510 SW 36th Ave. (SR 200), Ocala // (352) 291-2121 // Mon-Sun 11am-11pm Head to El Toreo for the best Mexican food this side of the border! Enjoy all of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes in a friendly and festive atmosphere. Beyond the outstanding Mexican food, El Toreo simply offers a warm, fun place to be— whether you’re dressed up or casual. Any day is a good day for one of El Toreo’s tasty margaritas: Mondays and Wednesdays $2 margaritas, Saturdays 2-for-1 margaritas and 2-for-1 happy hour every day from 4-7pm (excluding margaritas).
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1011 NE 14th St., Ocala // (352) 499-1089 // offdutytavern.com // Wed-Thurs 11am-9pm // Fri 11am-11pm // Sat 10am-11pm // Sun 10am-8pm // Mon 11am-9pm // Tue Closed
Treat yourself to a memorable dining experience at La Cuisine. Only the highest quality ingredients and produce are used to create traditional French fare in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Reminiscent of a quaint Paris bistro, La Cuisine offers an ambiance that is ideal for a family brunch, a business dinner or a romantic evening out. With award-winning dishes that are prepared fresh, in-house, each meal includes personal touches that only La Cuisine can provide. Indoor and outdoor patio dining is available, in the heart of beautiful downtown, and you’ll enjoy live music on Fridays and some Saturdays.
Offering a welcoming environment for all guests and a special place for first responders, Off-Duty Tavern is the place to go when your shift is over—no matter what time of the day you clock out. Start your meal with the Gunners’ Guinness Fondue before enjoying the Rescue Reuben Sandwich, featuring tavernmade slow roasted corned beef. And while Off-Duty Tavern is a full-service restaurant for the whole family, make sure to check out the separate lounge, where you can unwind after your shift or on your day off.
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LEM ON CHICKEN WITH ROASTED RED ONIONS AND POTATOES Recipe courtesy of chef Nate Appleman on behalf of Abbott
Lemon chicken: • 1 whole chicken, cut into eight pieces • 1 oz minced garlic • 1⁄4 tsp granulated garlic • 1⁄4 tsp paprika • 1⁄4 tsp smoked paprika • 1⁄4 tsp ground fennel seed • 1⁄4 tsp dried oregano • 1⁄4 tsp ground coriander • 1 T kosher salt Potatoes: • 2 1⁄2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes • salted water • oil
Cauliflower: • 1 head cauliflower • salted water • ice • 2 T mayonnaise • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce • 1 T chopped parsley Roasted onions: • 1 red onion • salt • oil For serving: • 3 oz pitted Castelvetrano or green olives, quartered • 5 oz wild arugula • 1 lemon, quartered
To make lemon chicken: Marinate chicken in mixture of minced garlic, granulated garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, fennel pollen, dried oregano, coriander and salt; let sit overnight. To make potatoes: Boil potatoes in heavily salted water until tender. Cool, peel and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Toss with oil to coat; reserve. To make cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into florets, and blanch in salted water 1 minute; shock in ice bath. Remove from ice, and dry. Toss with mayonnaise, tamari and parsley; reserve. To make roasted onions: Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel onion, and slice into 1-inch rings. Toss with salt and oil; roast until slightly caramelized with texture. Chill, and reserve. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake chicken on sheet pan approximately 15 minutes. Add potatoes and cauliflower. Bake approximately 15 minutes, and then switch oven to broil approximately 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon over reserved onion. When chicken is crispy and reaches internal temperature of 165°F, remove from oven and add onions and olives. Plate chicken, potatoes, onions, olives and cauliflower on top of arugula, and garnish with lemon. 30
TURKEY AND BEAN TOSTADAS Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative
Salsa: • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes) • 1 medium avocado, halved, pitted and diced • 1 large ear of corn, husks and silk discarded, kernels removed • 1-2 medium fresh jalapenos, seeds and ribs discarded, finely chopped • 2 T finely chopped red onion • 2 T fresh lime juice Tostadas: • nonstick cooking spray • 5 corn tortillas (6 inches each) • 8 oz ground skinless turkey breast • 2 tsp chili powder • 1 tsp ground cumin • 1 tsp ground coriander • 1 can (15.5 oz) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained • 2 T water To make salsa: In small bowl, stir tomatoes, avocado, corn, jalapenos, onions and lime juice. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F. To make tostadas: Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place tortillas on baking sheet. Lightly spray tortillas with nonstick cooking spray. Using fork, pierce tortillas several times to prevent from filling with air. Bake tortillas 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. In medium nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat, cook turkey, chili powder, cumin and coriander 5-6 minutes, or until turkey is no longer pink, stirring occasionally to turn and break up turkey. Add beans and water. Cook 5 minutes, or until beans are heated through. Using potato masher, coarsely mash beans. Remove from heat. To assemble tostadas, spread turkey mixture over each tortilla. Top with salsa.
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