The Habitat Strawberry Festival
March 3 › McPherson Complex, 801 SE 25th Ave., Ocala, habitatstrawberryfamilyfest.com
More than just a fun day out, the Habitat Strawberry Festival is a benefit that serves our entire community. Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Marion County has rehabilitated, built or improved over 320 homes for local families in need. This year’s festival will feature bigger and better attractions, including live entertainment, an expanded auto show and over 150 distinct vendors. The festival runs from 8am to 6pm, with the annual Strawberry Jam 5K starting at 8am. We caught up with HFH’s Chair of the Board Elizabeth Chryst and Development Director Joanne Black to get the scoop.
What is the purpose of the festival?
The Habitat Strawberry Festival is our signature fundraising event. Our vision is to provide the best festival for all to enjoy, raise enough funds to build a home for a family in need in Marion County and also raise awareness about what Habitat is all about.
What can we expect from the car show this year?
We have changed it to an auto show, which allows everyone to enter trucks, cars or motorcycles. In 2017, the crowds were huge and Burnyzz Speed Shop was a crowd-pleaser with their dragster on display. Trophies will be awarded for Best of Show, Best of Class and Sponsors’ Choice. There is a DJ, raffle, split the pot and more going on at the auto show throughout the day.
What sort of food can we expect?
Our Habitat Food Court provides hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and sausage, peppers and onions. We also have vendors offering typical fair food like funnel cake, ice cream, Italian ice, kettle corn, boiled peanuts, frozen lemonade and cheesecake—with yummy strawberry goodies sprinkled throughout the fair, including white and dark chocolate dipped berries and our homemade strawberry shortcake.
Are you doing advanced sales of strawberries?
We offer advanced sales of fresh strawberries the week of the festival online at habitatocala.org.
Any other big changes this year?
We are revamping the traffic patterns for our attendees to allow for dual entrances into the festival. We are also providing more and better parking monitors to enhance and speed up the traffic flow.
How can someone volunteer?
They can visit habitatocala.org/volunteer and sign up. Last year, we had over 900 volunteers who assisted with set-up, day of and take down.
Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song presented by Artists Lounge Live
February 11, 3pm › Reilly Arts Center › reillyartscenter.com
Heralded as “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was the most influential female jazz singer of her generation. During the course of her career, she garnered 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Award winning actress Alexis J Roston delivers a nuanced and spellbinding tribute as she performs some of Fitzgerald’s most famous songs, including It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing, Summertime and Cry Me a River.
Films To Watch
Peter Rabbit › February 9
Beatrix Potter’s classic storybook character gets a high-voltage contemporary makeover in this live action/CGI comedy. James Corden voices Peter as the cheeky bunny who is on a mission to expose a maniacal new neighbor before his friend, Bea, (in a nod to Ms. Potter), portrayed by Rose Byrne, is completely taken in by his charms. Peter uses all his wiles and unleashes plenty of mischief (think Home Alone-style antics) with the help of his friends, voiced by Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie and Sia, in this family-friendly tale.
The Party › February 16
This dark comedy, filmed entirely in black and white, is a highly-engaging and sharply drawn satire of politics, morality and idealism. Kristin Scott Thomas leads a stellar cast, as the host of an intimate dinner party that soon careens off course, as secrets burst open like fireworks all around her. But it is Patricia Clarkson who steals the show with her darkly delicious cynicism and biting one-liners. Shot with the intimacy of a one-act play, this highly entertaining and sophisticated film is a brisk modern take on cinema’s great drawing-room comedies.
Downtown To Dos
February 2 › First Friday Art Walk, downtown Ocala, 6pm
February 17 › HITS Parade of Nations, downtown Ocala, 4pm
Upcoming Events In The Villages
February 6 › Mardi Gras Festival, Spanish Springs Town Square
February 7 › Lou Christie Concert, Savannah Center
February 8 › Mardi Gras Festival, Lake Sumter Landing Market Square
February 23 › Strawberry Festival, Brownwood Paddock Square
February 23 › Cruise In Classic Car Show
February 23 › Blood, Sweat & Tears, Savannah Center
February 26 › Gary Puckett & The Union Gap Concert, Savannah Center
March 1 › Bill Anderson Concert, Savannah Center
March 12 › The Guess Who Concert, Savannah Center
April 4 › The Platters, Savannah Center
Arts, Crafts and Culture
Upcoming Exhibits At The Appleton › On the Edge of The Florida Frontier: Perspectives on Life at Fort King includes artwork, archaeological objects, photographs and historic reconstructions of the fort. Runs through April 8. Rembrandt and the Jews: The Berger Print Collection features a collection of 22 etchings by the Dutch master. Runs through March 18. Rembrandt Revealed: Etchings from the Collection of Dr. Robert and Mrs. Mariann McClary features the meticulous prints from the McClary’s collection depicting Rembrandt’s world. Runs through March 18. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
Inspired Speakers Series (February 18) › The Appleton Museum will host Kate Stone, an accomplished 14-year-old ballet dancer as part of the Inspired Speakers Series. The event will begin at 6pm and is free for members and $10 for nonmembers. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
Appleton After Hours (February 1) › The After Hours concert series offers live music, special displays of artwork by the Ocala Art Group and tasty samplings from local restaurants. Cash bar available. Doors open at 5pm, and music begins at 5:30pm. The event is free for Appleton members and $15 at the door for nonmembers. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
HeArt in the Park (February 3) › The Junior League of Ocala presents a community art project to benefit Kids Central held in Tuscawilla Park from 10am-2pm. Participants will be given a canvas as well as access to art supplies. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit the HeArt in the Park Facebook page.
Fine Arts Show (February 10) › The Visual Art Association’s Winter Fine Arts Show will be held at the Laurel Manor Recreational Center in The Villages from 9am-3pm. Over 65 artists will be in attendance. Admission is free and open to the public. (845) 807-7489.
Art Reception and Show (February 16) › The Brick City Center for the Arts will host an art reception and show for friends and patrons of Artist Alley members. The event will run 5-8pm. Please RSVP. artist-alley.com or (352) 351-2787.
Quilt Show (March 2-3) › The Belleview Busy Bee Quilters will host a quilt show at the Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church. Hours are 9am-4pm on March 2 and 9am-3pm on March 3. Admission is $6. (352) 292-4034.
Outdoor & Athletic Endeavors
Group Bike Rides (Ongoing) › Brick City Bicycles offers group bike rides throughout the week and weekend. brickcitybicycles.com or (352) 369-9400.
HITS Horse Show (Through March 25) › The annual HITS Horse Show Series features 10 consecutive weeks of competition with over $4 million in prize money. The premier event, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, takes place March 25. Competition runs Wednesday through Sunday each week. hitsshows.com.
Valentine’s Day 5K (February 10) › This 17th annual run will be held at Silver River State Park at 8am. T-shirts guaranteed for the first 200 registrants, and a pancake breakfast will be served after the race. For more information, visit the Valentine’s Day 5K Facebook page.
Pack Walk (February 25) › In partnership with Marion County Animal Services, Silver Springs State Park will give volunteers the opportunity to walk dogs available for adoption through the park. The program gives the animals exercise and the chance to socialize. Dog walkers must be 16, but all are welcome to join the walk. Pack walks will be held the fourth Sunday of every month at 10am. silversprings.com or (352) 261-5840.
Fun at the Park (February 25) › Sholom Park will host a family-friendly event featuring live music, food trucks and more. The event is free, open to the public and runs 1-4pm. sholompark.com or (352) 873-0848 ext.7650.
Golf Tournament & Fundraiser (February 26) › Held at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, this event benefits Marion Therapeutic Riding Association and features a putting contest, shotgun start, deli lunch and silent auction. Entry fee is $150 per player or $500 for a foursome. mtra.org/golf or (352) 732-7300.
Special Kids Classic (March 3) › The Transitions Life Center of Ocala will host a golf tournament at the Country Club of Ocala. Registration is $100 per individual or $350 per foursome. Breakfast will be served at 7am with a shotgun start at 8am. tlcocala.org or (352) 476-2704.
Other Fun Stuff!
Ocala Health Events › A diabetes support group will be held February 7 and an injury prevention seminar will be held February 9. A world cancer day seminar will take place on February 14 and a seminar focused on colorectal cancer will be held February 16. All programs will be held at the Senior Wellness Community Center in Ocala. Advanced registration is required. ocalahealthsystem.com or (800) 530-1188.
Father Daughter Dance (February 2-3) › The 12th Annual Father Daughter Dance will be held at the Circle Square Cultural Center and will include a live DJ and dancing, crafts, snacks, photo booth and more. Dances will be offered February 2 from 6-8 pm and February 3 from 4-6pm or 7-9pm. Tickets are $20. father-daughterdance.com or (352) 694-1635.
Six Gun Territory’s Wild West Weekend (February 2-4) › Kirby Family Farm will host this annual event from 10am-4pm daily, featuring original Six Gun Territory gunfights, train rides, live entertainment and amusement rides. February 2 is set aside for education day. kirbyfarm.com or (352) 812-7435.
Cracker Cattle Drive and Cowboy Roundup (February 10) › The Annual Cracker Cattle Drive and Cowboy Roundup will take place at Tuscawilla Park from 10am-4pm. The event includes historic reenactments, demonstrations, food, activities and more. A cattle drive will also take place. Admission is free. mydiscoverycenter.org or (352) 368-5517.
Silver River Knap-in (February 17-18) › The 8th annual knap-in features a pre-historic festival complete with stone tool-making exhibits, bow and arrow demonstrations and pottery making. The event is held at the Silver River Museum. Admission is $5. silverrivermuseum.com or (352) 236-7148.
Greek Festival (February 16-18) › The St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Belleview will celebrate Greek culture through food, music and more. 11am-8pm on Friday and Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday. Admission is $2. greekfestivalocala.com or (352) 245-3324.
Home Improvement Expo (February 17) › Representatives from different fields of the home improvement industry will be on hand to display their goods and answer questions about the latest trends and the services they offer. Event is free and takes place from 9am-1pm. csculturalcenter.com or (352) 854-3670.
Parade of Nations (February 17) › Ocala Main Street and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership present the second annual Parade of Champions to celebrate the arrival of some of the best equestrians in the world. The event will include an appearance by the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, vendors, carriage rides and more. The event begins at 4pm on the downtown square. ocalacep.com or (352) 629-8051.
Trinity Catholic High School Winter Carnival (February 22-25) › Midway games, rides, food and much more. Pre-sale tickets are available for $20 through 3pm February 22. Ticket prices go up to $30 during the carnival. trinitycatholichs.org or (352) 622-9025, ext. 6047.
Tiara Ball (February 24) › Join the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research to raise money for cancer research and education in North Central Florida. The event will take place at Circle Square Cultural Center. ocalaroyaldames.org or (352) 622-7363.
Women of the Moose Fundraising Event (February 24) › The Women of the Moose Lodge in Ocala are hosting an event to benefit local women who have served the country. They are asking for donations and volunteers. (352) 229-4566 or (352) 502-0396.