Editor’s Picks | March 2024

A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events

Habitat for Humanity Strawberry Festival, photos by Meagan Gumpert of MAVEN Photo + Film

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL
McPherson Governmental Complex 
March 2

Organizers promise a “berry good time” with lots of vendors, a kids’ zone with a petting zoo, a pie-eating contest and a car show. Entertainers will include The Petty Experience and Chris Patti a Great Crooners and Frank Sinatra tribute artist. The festival is free to attend. Parking is a $5 donation, to benefit both Habitat for Humanity and the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association. Expect lots of strawberry food options and a family-friendly good time. Visit
habitatocala.org/strawberry for more information.

NIGHT AT THE FARM 
College of Central Florida Vintage Farm Campus
March 2

This year’s fundraiser theme is “Strings, Wine and Bites.” It will be an evening of elegant wines and food provided by Eaton’s Beach, known for “Florisiana” cuisine. Entertainment will be provided by The String Smith. Tickets are $125 per person or $200 per couple. Proceeds will support scholarships for CF students. To purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/night-at-the-farm

SPRINGSFEST
Silver Springs State Park
March 2-3

This day out in nature will offer educational activities, games, food trucks and vendors with artwork, photography, crafts and more. Photo ops with mermaids will be available on Saturday. There will be live music on the Twin Oaks Mansion stage each day.  Admission is $2 and offers access to the main park and the Silver River Museum campus. Glass-bottom boat rides will be available for an additional fee. For more information, visit bit.ly/florida-springsfest or fb.com/events/678703191023899

MASTER GARDENERS’ SPRING FESTIVAL
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
March 9-10

This festival may inspire you to plant, pollinate and prune your yard. With dozens of vendors, you can hunt for leafy treasures, find garden décor items, learn about plants and more. The Master Gardeners focus on Florida-friendly landscaping and you can buy native plants, flowers, shrubs, trees, houseplants and more from vendors. The KidZone will include educational activities and a live butterfly encounter. Educational presentations will go on all day. Admission is $3; free for ages 12 and younger. There will be food trucks on site. Bring a cart or wagon. More information is available from sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/marion/master-gardeners/events

Live Oak International, photo by Bruce Ackerman

LIVE OAK INTERNATIONAL
Live Oak Stud
March 14-17

This renowned event offers driving dressage classes, cross-country driving and arena show jumping. International driving teams will splash through water hazards, navigate cones and cover an outdoor obstacle course and the show jumping component will nurture young talents. Tickets range from $12 for a day pass and $12 to park to VIP packages starting at $250 that include meals, premium parking, parties and reserved seating. Visit liveoakinternational.com/buy-tickets

OCALA RODEO 
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
March 15-16

The pro rodeo returns with breakaway roping, saddle and bareback bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel races and bull riding. Tickets are $25 each, with pre-event, cash-only sales at Badcock Home Furniture, the Boot Barn, Russell’s Western Wear, Tack Shack of Ocala, Klover Leaf Tack & Western Wear and Sparr Building & Farm Supply. There is no entry fee for children ages 5 and younger. Proceeds from concessions will benefit Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. For more information, visit ocalarodeo.com 

NATIONAL SAVE THE FLORIDA PANTHER DAY
Fort King National Historic Landmark
March 16

This evening at the fort will feature presentations from park rangers and other experts. The award-winning film Path of the Panther focuses on the work of wildlife photographer Carlton Ward Jr. and his quest to capture images of the rare big cat. The event will include the showing of the movie, a dusk trail hike through the park and crafting activities for children. It is free to attend. For more information, visit bit.ly/fort-king-events

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA EXPERIENCE
Reilly Arts Center
March 21

This tribute to ELO features a fusion of pop and classical influences. Expect to hear Mr. Blue Sky, Roll Over Beethoven, Evil Woman, Can’t Get It Outta My Head, Don’t Bring Me Down and more. The 12-piece band blends violin, cello, guitar, drums, bass and keyboards with distinctive vocal harmonies. Tickets are $30-$55 from reillyartscenter.com

PARK AFTER DARK SERIES: NEW ORLEANS
Sholom Park
March 21

The Jazz Phools will perform New Orleans-style jazz, traditional Dixieland, modern line brass, funk and Zydeco styles. Spontaneity and improvisation are key elements to this band’s appeal. The evening will include the Ragin’ Cajun Kitchen food truck. Tickets options are coach for $15 and you bring your own picnic basket and beverage; or first class for $25, with a special tasting menu from the food truck and a reserved area for seating. Registration is required through bit.ly/park-after-dark-new-orleans

RIDE RUN ROLL RELAY
Shangrila Campground and Trailhead
March 23

The annual fundraiser will combine teams of a runner, a horseback rider and a mountain biker for a relay race through a trail course on the Cross Florida Greenway. Runners go 3.1 miles, riders go 5 miles and bikers go 8 miles. The day’s options will include raffles, food trucks and vendors. The event will benefit maintenance of equestrian trails on the Greenway. The cost is $75 per racer. Register at runsignup.com. A camping package includes a Friday night cookout, Saturday lunch and one entry. For more information, visit suncountrytrailblazers.org  

MEALS 4 WHEELS
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
March 23

This car show will benefit Marion Senior Services and its Meals on Wheel programs, which delivers more than 400 meals daily to area seniors to help them stay in their homes and get proper nutrition. The day will offer food trucks and vendors. The event is free to attend. For more information, visit wheels4meals.org

MARION COUNTY DAY 2024 
McPherson Governmental Campus
March 23

The festival will celebrate Marion County history, with historians offering information and artifacts on display. Kids can enjoy bounce houses, a petting zoo, archery and other activities. Admission
is free. For more information, visit
bit.ly/2024-marion-county-day

SPRING MAKER’S MARKET
Grumbles House Antiques & Garden Shop
March 30

For a charming day out, head to the far southwest part of the county and check out Dunnellon’s historic and artsy district. The festival will showcase local artists, jewelers, seamstresses, painters, photographers and more. There also is a garden center and café. To learn more, go to grumbleshouseantiques.com/events

Photo courtesy of Reilly Arts Center

ALMOST ABBA
Reilly Arts Center
March 30

This tribute band highlights Abba, the Swedish super group that hit it big in the ‘70s and had a revival with the release of the Mamma Mia movies. You’ll be out of your seat with Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Take a Chance on Me and Mamma Mia. Tickets are $22-$50 from reillyartscenter.com

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