A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events
4 | New Year Paso Festival
World Equestrian Center
The Paso Fino is a naturally gaited light horse breed with a history that stretches back over 500 years to the Cordela and Andalusia provinces of Spain. Pasos are prized for their smooth, natural, four-beat, lateral ambling gait. Central Florida has the largest population of Pasos and more Paso Fino foals are produced here than anywhere else in the country. The Ocala Paso Fino Horse Association offers two shows in one weekend, from the 4th through the 6th. For show schedule, visit pasofinoocala.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
4 | Grandview Invitational
Florida Horse Park
The AdventHealth Grandview Invitational is a 3-day all breed draft horse hitch show, from the 4th through the 6th, featuring the Clydesdale, Percheron and Belgian breeds competing in the single horse all the way up through the eight-horse hitch. Marvel at 168 one-ton horses in a ring at the same time, along with 21 world class hitch wagons, being maneuvered by some of the best drivers in the industry. Organizers boast that “the pure power and excitement of this equine venture is one of the most crowd-pleasing horse events on the planet.” Gates open at 8am. Show starts at 12pm. For full schedule and details, visit grandviewinvitational.com
5 | Third Annual Love of the Horse 5K
The Equine Medical Center of Ocala
This charity 5K benefits the Foundation for the Horse, a group with more than 25 years dedicated to improving the welfare of horses through education and research. It has worked to advance care and compassion through disaster relief, veterinary projects in developing countries, veterinary scholarships and equine research. Race day starting time is 8am. For registration and details, visit loveofthehorse5K.itsyourrace.com
5 | 47th Annual Mount Dora Arts Festival
Downtown Mount Dora
Discover the work of more than 250 fine artists from all over the country lining the streets of Mount Dora’s picturesque, lakefront, historic downtown district on the 5th and the 6th from 9am-5pm. The festival showcases a vast array of incredible talent and works that include painting, sculpture, clay, mixed media, photography, fiber art, fine fabricated jewelry and more. The festival also features wine tastings, food trucks, a free kid’s zone and live entertainment. The event is free to the public. Visit mdca.org
5 | Ocala Equine Conference
This program of cutting-edge lectures and hands-on instruction for equine professionals, organized by the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners, an equine-exclusive division of the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, is focused on providing equine-focused learning opportunities and access to products and services. Visit fvma.org to register.
11 | Grandview World Nights
World Equestrian Center
On the 11th and 12th, Grandview Clydesdales offers two nights of elegant events under the evening lights at the prestigious World Equestrian Center, the largest equestrian complex in the United States. Designed to entertain and captivate you, these festive affairs incorporate the majestic power of the Clydesdale, Belgian and Percheron horse breeds with electrifying instrumental music. For more information, visit grandviewworldnights.com.
12 | Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up
Dust off your cowboy hat and shine up your boots for Ocala’s annual Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up from 10am-2pm. Real cowboys drive Florida Cracker cattle through downtown Ocala to Tuscawilla Park and then the festivities begin. Enjoy live music, cowboy demonstrations, farm animals, craft vendors, food trucks, a kid’s corral, tractors and trailers. Visit ocalafl.org.
12 |Duck Derby
The third annual Duck Derby, hosted by the Ocala Rotary Club, follows the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up. 5,000 ducks will traverse the Tuscawilla Pond to win big. By adopting or sponsoring a duck, community members are eligible to win cash prizes. Proceeds benefit the Discovery Center along with other local Rotary Club projects. For entries and information, visit ocalarotaryclub.com.
12 | Kayak and Koffee
King’s Landing, Apopka
The Marion County Parks & Recreation team will take participants to King’s Landing in Apopka to explore a new part of Central Florida. $25 per participant if you bring your own kayak equipment; $50 per participant if all gear provided. For ages 15 and older; ideal for beginners. Register at parks.marionfl.org or call (352) 671-8560.
23 | Marion County Fair
I-75 Flea Market, Ocala
The Marion County Fair, sponsored by Florida Kids Helping Kids (FKHK), presents Winter Carnival from the 23rd through the 27th. FKHK aims to give back to the community by providing educational opportunities, training and social services. The fair will open 4pm to 11pm weekdays and noon to 11pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free. Midway ride tickets and wristbands for unlimited rides are available for pre-sale at dreamlandamusements.com. Wristbands may also be purchased at the gate for $35 dollars or individual tickets will be available for $1.50 each. Cash and, in some cases, credit cards, will be accepted for games and carnival food. In addition to the midway, there will be a petting zoo and pony rides. The fee to enter the petting zoo is $2 per person and you may purchase food to feed the animals. On Saturday the 26th, the fair will host both the Marion County Pageant and first annual Jr. Chili Cookoff (open to high school students and younger). The West Port High School Soccer team will operate an on-site day care to raise funds for their summer camps. The Lake Weir High School Jazz Band will maintain the self-parking lot and appreciate donations to help them attend an upcoming out-of-state competition. Visit marioncountyfairfl.com
25 | Southeastern Youth Fair
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
The Southeastern Youth Fair (SEYF) is the premier not-for-profit, all-youth event for Marion County 4H and FFA members and the largest all-youth fair event in the state of Florida without a midway. The foundation of the fair, the Steer Show, began in 1941. 1978 was the start of the Horse, Beef Heifer, Poultry, Swine, Dairy & Meat Goat, Rabbit, Dog Obedience, Garden, Kitchen and Home Arts Show. The first Dog Agility Show began in 2004. The show promotes the importance of agriculture and its related industries in our area. The fair runs from February 25th through March 5th. Visit seyfair.com
25 | Bourbon in the Barn
College of Central Florida Vintage Farm
A night of bourbon tastings, live music, live and silent auction items, and much more, beginning at 6pm, will benefit the mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Marion County. Tickets are $100 each for general admission and $150 each for VIP admission and tickets visit their Facebook page, call (352) 690-7475 or email email@example.com.