A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can't miss events.
Villages Balloon Festival
The Villages Polo Club
Feb 7-8 | Friday, 2-9pm; Sat, 6:30-9am & 2-9pm
Pilots launch colorful hot-air balloons into the sky for a fanciful sight not to be missed. Meet the balloon pilots at “balloon glows” each evening. Tethered rides, food trucks, vendors, a free kid’s zone, music and an antique car show are also slated. All balloon activities depend on favorable weather conditions. For tickets and dos and don’ts, visit www.thevillagesballoonfestival.com
Ocala Cattle Drive & Cowboy Roundup
Downtown Ocala and Tuscawilla Park
Celebrate Central Florida ranching and cattle history by watching real cowboys drive Florida cracker cattle through downtown to Tuscawilla Park. Once at the park, enjoy live music by Brett Bass and Melted Plectrum and watch the Six Gun Territory gunslingers. Craft vendors, food trucks, tractors and trailers, farm animals and more. www.ocalafl.org
Adopt a duck for a chance to win cash prizes at the Marion County Rotary Clubs’ inaugural Duck Derby fundraiser. Get your ducks for $5 per duck, $25 for a “Quack Pack” of six ducks and $100 for a “Flock” of 24 ducks. First prize duck “parent” gets $2,020; second place, $1,010; and third, $520. For more information, visit www.mydiscoverycenter.org
Dr. Jean Twenge at CF
CF Ewers Century Center
Generation Z researcher Dr. Twenge reveals her insights on the generation born after 1995. At this free public talk, she’ll give tips for finding a balance with technology and making time for activities that benefit physical and mental health to combat unhappiness, anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation. For more information, call (352) 854-2322, ext. 1485.
Abstract Spain Project Show Opening
8th Ave Gallery
After a whirlwind trip to Spain, visiting 12 cities in a month, artist/gallery owner Seth Benzel will unveil a series of abstract paintings inspired by his adventure. However, he doesn’t want you to get lost in the meaning of a painting.
“The meaning is not the important thing,” he says. Instead, he wants you to feel the emotion of a moment in time. “It is a representation of the emotion, the occurrences in life that are all around us.”
Benzel’s patrons fund his trips. He’s been to Dubai, Los Angeles and, this summer, aims to get inspired in Paris. His patrons track his travels on Instagram and Facebook and when he gets back, he completes a painting for each one of them, using acrylics and mixed-media on canvas, paper and wood.
This show will feature about 10 to 12 from the series, including a painting that will take up an entire wall, a first for Benzel.
For more information, call (518) 681-9347.
Trinity Catholic High School
This family-fun fundraiser features midway rides for all ages, from enchanting kiddie rides to exhilarating thrill rides, carnival games and fair food favorites. Carnival parking and admission are free. Games and rides extra. New: Armbands required for entry Saturday after 6pm. Carnival hours: 5-10pm Thursday, 5-11pm Friday, 11am-11pm Saturday and 11am-9pm Sunday. Visit www.trinitycatholichs.org/carnival for more information.
Ocala Winter Circuit
HITS Post Time Farm
Feb 4-9; Feb 18-23; Feb 25-March 1 | 8am-4pm
Grab lunch at the HITS Restaurant and find a grassy spot on the grounds to eat while watching some of the world’s best show jumping. www.hitsshows.com
Majestic Oaks Ocala & Englert-Farren Sporthorses Schooling Jumper Show
Majestic Oaks Ocala
February 11 & 25 | 8am
Come watch riders practice stadium jumping. Fence poles start at ground level and go up to four feet. Food trucks will be on hand. Free entry for spectators. www.majesticoaksocala.com
Southern Draft Association Horse Pull
The Villages Polo Club
Watch 45 teams of muscular workhorses compete in pulling thousands of pounds. Tickets, $8 and $10 at the gate; children 12 and under, free. No pets. Rain or shine.
Hunt Country Horse Show
The Grand Oaks Resort, Weirsdale
Feb 29 & March 1 | 9am-5pm
Come see hunters and jumpers soar over fences, water obstacles, and solid jumps. Events take place at the Covered Arena, Fiber Arena and Racetrack Arena. Free. www.thegrandoaks.com
Reilly Arts Center
From the high desert of New Mexico, Artrageous dance troupe combines fine art, music, singing, dancing and humor for an interactive art and music performance. www.reillyartscenter.com
HeArt in the Park
Ocala Tuscawilla Park
Bring the kids to create art in the park and the whole family can enjoy yard games and food trucks. This fundraiser benefits R.E.A.C.H., the Junior League’s project with Marion County Public Schools.
Season Reveal Party 2020-2021
Ocala Civic Theatre
Enjoy a sneak preview of songs and scenes from the 2020-2021 season at this first-ever reveal party. Space is limited; RSVP to (352) 236-2274. www.ocalacivictheatre.com
30th Annual Winefest
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, Clermont
Feb 7-9 | 10am-5pm, Friday and Saturday; 11am-5pm, Sunday
Sip Lakeridge Winery’s full range of award-winning table wines, from dry to sweet, while enjoying live music on an outdoor stage. www.lakeridgewinery.com
Big Hammock Race Series Miles for Meridian 5K
Tioga Town Center, Newberry
All ages and skill levels are welcome to walk/run/roll through the Town of Tioga. The race benefits nonprofit Meridian Behavioral Healthcare. www.BigHammockRaceSeries.com
Chocolate & Cheese Festival
Kings Bay Park, Crystal River
Feb 8-9 | 10am-7m & 10am-5pm
Food trucks bring their chocolate and cheese-themed menus, while beer and wine sales benefit Keep Citrus County Beautiful. Fleetwood Max tribute band plays Saturday.
Heart of a Hero Male Fashion Show
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
This fundraiser features a keynote speaker and a diverse group of local male heroes, from firefighters to high school vice principals. They appear in their uniform first and then model fashions by Dillard’s. “These guys put on a show, let me tell you,” says Tuesday May, one of the organizers. May’s husband Albert will emcee. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres served. Visit
www.facebook.com/GFWCGreaterOcala for more information.
2nd Annual Love for Life Event
Red White and Blues Farm, Williston
Live music and performers, food trucks, bounce houses, face painting and more. Bring the family and some chairs to enjoy the live entertainment. www.loveforlife.ticketleap.com
Silver River Knap-In and Prehistoric Arts Festival
Silver River Museum, Silver Springs State Park
Feb 15-16 | 9am-4pm
Artists demonstrate stone-tool making, pottery and ceramic arts, bone and shell carving, bow and arrow making and more. Food and craft vendors will be onsite.
Picnic Under the Stars
Picnic under the twinkling stars while enjoying the acoustic pop sounds of Gypsy Sparrow. Pack your picnic basket and Sholom Park will provide a blanket. Register at www.masterthepossibilities.org
Southeastern Youth Fair
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
Feb 21-29 | 8am
An agricultural event featuring livestock shows, auctions and judging, competitive exhibits, contests and competitions, entertainment, barbecue and food. New this year is a 5K race. www.seyfair.com
10th Annual Charity Auto Show
McPherson Government Complex
Marion County Tax Collector George Albright presents this event, which features around 200 cars and 25 trophies as well as kids’ activities. Funds raised will benefit Interfaith Emergency Services and local children’s and animal charities. For more information, call (352) 368-8245.
Ocala Eye’s Night for Sight
Ocala Citizens’ Circle
6-8pm; Fun Run begins at 6:30pm
Tear off on this one mile glow-in-the-dark Fun Run throughout downtown Ocala, followed by an after-run celebration with live music and hands-on visual games and activities. Participants at this family-friendly event receive a complimentary vision screening. Donations are encouraged. Proceeds help fund eye exams and glasses for those with visual impairments. Visit www.ocalaeye.com/nightforsight for more information.
2020 Art Park Series | Beginning of Bolted Art
Tuscawilla Art Park
Feb 21-22 | 6-9pm
On Friday, tour 10 new sculptures, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, unique art experiences and musical performances by West Port High School Choir and Orchestra, as well as classical crossover rock musicians Cello Fury. Tickets, $25. Saturday, bring the family. Vote for your favorite. Visit www.ocalafl.org/performingarts for VIP tickets and more information.
Artist Talk: Billy Joe Hoyle
Appleton Museum of Art
Street photographer Billy Joe Hoyle and Appleton Curator of Exhibitions Patricia Tomlinson discuss Hoyle’s solo exhibition At Home and the World, on display through June 21st. Hoyle’s two decades of world travel, exploring diverse customs and beliefs, reveals an authentic look into the lives of his subjects. Free for Appleton members; included with museum admission fee for nonmembers. For more information, visit www.appletonmuseum.org