A Quick Q&A With Dr. John Sweet
Since 1990, the Heart of Florida Youth Ranch has been aiding at-risk children and families. Similarly, the Bay Area Youth Services (BAYS) has grown from a small not-for-profit organization in 1982 to a multi-faceted organization with 15 locations statewide. Today, both organizations strive to better the lives of children and families in crisis through a number of different outreach programs. And while both organizations have served thousands over the decades, many aren’t aware of their scope and services.
The popular Ocala’s Got Talent event serves as both a fundraiser as well as a means to bring much-needed awareness to these two organizations. Dr. John Sweet, director of the Heart of Florida Youth Ranch, took some time to talk about this year’s event and what it means for the ranch.
What is the main goal of the Ocala’s Got Talent event? The main objective is to both draw attention to those who have talent in our community as well as raise awareness for our programs.
Does the event serve as a major fundraiser? We receive some funds, but it’s more to let people know who we are. So many people will come up to us and remark that they didn’t even know we existed.
Who is eligible to compete? The auditions are open to all ages and all talents. It’s especially great for children to learn how to cope with the nerves of performance and receive feedback.
How many participants are you expecting? Last year we had about 50 show up at the auditions. We then select 10 to compete at the semi-finals, and five make it to the finals.
Can spectators come to the auditions? Absolutely. In fact, many people come to watch and become inspired to audition.
How many auditions will be held before the semi-finals? There are five audition dates beginning in late September.
Learn more › Auditions: September 22 & 29, October 6, 13 & 20 › Semifinals: October 27 › Finals: November 10 › $25 audition fee and $5 spectator fee applies › For more information, visit ocalasgottalent.com or the event’s Facebook page.
Best Of The British
August 11 › 7:30pm › Reilly Arts Center, Ocala › reillyartscenter.com › (352) 351-1606
Bigwigs of British rock tribute bands will blaze into the Reilly Arts Center for an evening paying homage to two legends. Absolute Queen will belt out the classics Queen made famous, while Highway to Hell will feature songs from the 40-year span of AC/DC’s career. This one-night-only show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets available through the Reilly Arts Center box office.
Glo With The Flo 5K
August 25 › 8pm › Citizens’ Circle, downtown Ocala › glowiththeflo5k.itsyourrace.com › (352) 438-5993
Drowsy evening streets will come alive as runners of all ages illuminate the 5K course through downtown Ocala for the fifth annual Glo With The Flo 5K. This nighttime race raises funds and awareness for both the Marion County Children’s Alliance and the Drayton Florence Foundation. Participants receive numerous neon accessories to don with their favorite glow-in-the-dark running gear, and the first 300 to sign up are guaranteed race T-shirts and a swag bag. The race takes off at 8pm at Citizens’ Circle with awards and refreshments to follow.
Mount Dora Seafood Festival
August 25-26 › 11am-9pm on Saturday, 11am-5pm on Sunday › Elizabeth Evans Park, Mount Dora › mountdoraseafoodfestival.com
Seafood lovers, rejoice! The freshest and finest seafood in Florida is slated to be in Mount Dora for the fourth annual Mount Dora Seafood Festival. This weekend-long event will consist of over 100 vendors peddling everything from baby bay scallops to king crab legs as well as specialty food items and more. Slick oyster shuckers can win up to $500 at the Oyster Shuck-Off, while those more interested in tantalizing their taste buds can sign up for a self-guided tasting tour of seven area restaurants. The event is rain or shine and held at Elizabeth Evans Park in downtown Mount Dora from 11am-9pm on Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sunday.
Fun For Free!
Looking for a way to spend the last few days of summer that won’t break the bank? Check out these top five free things to do this month.
Take a hike. Sholom Park in Ocala boasts beautiful walking trails and picturesque picnic spots and is open seven days a week from 8am-7pm. sholompark.org
Catch a concert. The final three Levitt AMP Ocala concerts will be held at Webb Field starting at 6pm on August 3, 10, 17. ocalafl.org
Swim on over. Tired of crowded pools and eye-burning chlorine? Take a ride to the Ocala National Forest and check out some of the scenic springs touting crystal clear, 72-degree water. Bring your snorkel to explore underwater and serach for resident creatures. fs.usda.gov
Gawk at cool cars. The August Cruise-in Car Show held at Spanish Springs Town Center in The Villages boasts food and beverage vendors, door prizes and 50/50 raffles. thevillagesentertainment.com
Watch a flick. Captain America: Civil War is this month’s After Dark in The Park feature film. Be sure to bring along you favorite lawn chair or picnic blanket. ocalafl.org.
Downtown To Dos
August 25 › Glo With The Flo 5K, Citizens’ Circle, 8pm
Upcoming Events In The Villages
August 8 › Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Savannah Center
August 18 › August Cruise In Car Show, Spanish Springs Town Square
August 22 › The 5th Dimension, Savannah Center
August 30 › One Night in Memphis, Savannah Center
September 5 › The Letterman, Savannah Center
September 15 › September Cruise In Car Show, Spanish Springs Town Center
September 21-22 › Little Anthony and the Imperials, Savannah Center
September 25-26 › Arrival From Sweden: The Music of ABBA, Savannah Center
Arts, Crafts and Culture
Upcoming Exhibits At The Appleton › In Medieval to Metal: The Art and Evolution of the Guitar, visitors will experience the art, history and cultural impact of the guitar. The exhibit runs through September 2. Shadow and Reflection: Visions of Florida’s Sacred Landscapes re-envisions the past with images and words inspired by the exploration of Florida’s Native American mound sites. Runs through September 30. Myth, Mother, Muse: The Paintings of Matthew Bennett explores his relationships with women as artist, friend and husband. The exhibit opens August 4 and runs through November 25. Flourish: The Ceramic Artistry of Beth Garcia features flower-like sea anemone forms that create fantastical imagery. The exhibit opens August 11 and runs through January 13. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
Art 101 (August 14, 16) › The Appleton Museum will host a one-day workshop, Foam Sculpture. Participants will create sculptures from blocks of foam. The event will be held 10am-12:30pm on August 14 and 6-8:30pm on August 16, and participants over 21 may bring wine. Registration is $40 for members and $60 for nonmembers. appletonmusuem.org or (352) 291-4455.
Inspired Speakers Series (August 12) › The Appleton Museum will host Jim Abernathy, an award-winning author, photographer, cinematographer and conservationist who pioneered shark encounters without a cage. The event will run from 2-4pm, and admission is free for Appleton members and CF students and $10 for nonmembers. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
River Rhythms at Silver Springs (August 24) › Silver Springs State Park will host an evening of live entertainment, including a drum circle. Guests are encouraged to bring a percussion instrument and participate. The event is free with park admission and runs from 4pm to sundown the fourth Friday of every month. silversprings.com or (352) 261-5840.
Metal Embossing Workshop (August 25) › In conjunction with the Medieval to Metal: The Art & Evolution of the GUITAR exhibit, the Appleton Museum will host a special workshop. Participants will learn to emboss metal in rock ‘n’ roll- and guitar-themed designs. The workshop will be held from 1-5pm. appletonmuseum.org or (352) 291-4455.
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.
Golf Tournament (August 10) › The Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club will host the Carli Leutbecher Memorial Golf Tournament at 12:30pm. Registration begins at 10:30am. Entry fee is $125 and includes green fees, cart, lunch, drinks on course, goodie bag and two free drinks at the after party. (352) 402-4357.
Pack Walk (August 26) › 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 fourth Sunday of the month at 10am. Dog walkers must be 16 years of age, but all are welcome to join the walk. silversprings.com or (352) 261-5840.
Other Fun Stuff!
Ocala Health Events › A diabetes support group will be held on August 1, and a heartburn seminar will take place on August 3. A balance training seminar will take place on August 7, and back pain workshop will take place August 8. An injury and fall prevention program will be held on August 10. All programs will be held at the Senior Wellness Community Center in Ocala. Advanced registration is required. ocalahealthsystem.com or (800) 530-1188.
Adult Education Courses (Ongoing) › Master the Possibilities will host a number of courses and seminars this month, including a Raw Food Made Easy course, a Ketogenic Diet seminar and a WWI course as well as many others. masterthepossibilities.org or (352) 861-9751.
Gospel Explosion (August 4) › This third annual event will be held at the ED Croskey Recreation Center from 4-9pm. The evening will include a gospel concert to benefit Families for Cancer Prevention United. (812) 208-5837.
Back To School Bash (August 9) › The Martin Luther King Recreation Complex hosts its annual bash. From 2-6pm celebrate the back-to-school season with backpacks, supplies, health services, foot and entertainment.
Nominations Accepted for the Mary Sue Rich Diversity Awards (Through August 15) › The Racial Harmony and Cultural Awareness Task Force will be accepting nominations for the Mary Sue Rich Diversity Award beginning July 1. The awards are given to those who have distinguished themselves by promoting racial harmony and equality, raising cultural awareness and/or celebrating diversity in Ocala/Marion County. Honorees will be recognized at the annual Unity Breakfast on October 9. ocalafl.org or (352) 368-5517.
Host Families Needed (Through August 18) › Educational Homestay Programs is currently recruiting families to house international students over the summer. Community service hours are available for teens, and the program offers the opportunity for free music lessons. Spots are limited. ef.edu or (352) 857- 7521.
Mental Health Fair (August 25) › St. Leo University will host Ocala’s first Mental Health Fair from 10am-noon. The event’s goal is to connect individuals and families to mental health services, resources and providers that serve Marion County. Admission is free and open to the public. mentalhealthministry.com or (352) 340-1816.