A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events
FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK
The start of the First Friday Art Walk season is here. The monthly event runs through May and features artists, performers and craftspeople all around the downtown square. You can get a casual or formal dinner and enjoy entertainment at the gazebo stage and buskers singing on the streets. Stores are open late for shopping. Enjoy the ambience of a festival while supporting local businesses and artists. For more info, ocalafl.org
PARK AFTER DARK MOVIE SERIES
The City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department hosts the series, which this month offers Hotel Transylvania, a PG-rated animated movie about Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg), who accidentally stumbles upon the hotel and falls for Dracula’s teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). Dad Dracula (Adam Sandler) is not enthused. The event is free to attend. Refreshments will be available for purchase. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. For more info, call (352) 368-5517 or visit ocalafl.org/recpark
MARION COUNTY PARKS & RECREATION CARNIVAL
Southeastern Livestock Pavilion
This is the fifth annual fall carnival and is a family-friendly affair with activities such as bounce houses, food trucks, costume contests, candy treats, giveaways and lots of entertainment. Free to attend. Call (352) 371-8560 for more info.
World Equestrian Center
Embrace your Bavarian side and try German foods, beers, games and music. On the menu is bratwurst, knackwurst, pretzels, schnitzel, potato salad, apfelstrudel, lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) and Black Forest cake. Live music from the Swinging Bavarians adds to the atmosphere, along with the Schnitzel Shuffle 5K run (separate registration needed.) Tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for ages 5-12 (free for youth under 5 with a paying adult). See worldequestriancenter.com for tickets and info.
JENNIFER FOSTER CONCERT
Countryside Presbyterian Church
Soprano Foster has performed all over the world. She teaches voice in her Ocala studio and conducts group workshops for singers, actors and public speakers. The event is free; a love offering is warmly welcomed. Learn more at jenniferfostermfa.com
APPLAUD THE ARTS
Appleton Museum of Art
The Marion Cultural Alliance celebrates with Soiree de Lumiere, the theme of its 16th annual Applaud the Arts celebration. Organizers are planning an enchanted evening under the lights with artwork, heavy hors’ d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails, live music and more. Cultural Grant and Arts Awards recipients will be announced. Cocktail attire is requested. Tickets are $35-$65. For more info, mcaocala.org
BARK IN THE PARK DOGGY EXPO
Ocala Downtown Market
The Senior Resource Foundations presents this doggone good time, which will include pet costume contests, vendors, animals for adoption, food trucks and family and pet-friendly activities. Proceeds will benefit Marion County Animal Services to help provide health care, training and shelter services for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and fowl; and the Marion Senior Services’ Meals on Wheels program. For more info, see srfofocala.org
PHANTASMAGORIA XIV: TALES OF THE UNDEAD
Reilly Arts Center, Ocala
This Victorian horror troupe will thrill you and chill you, all the better to get you ready for Halloween. This theatrical presentation offers stories of vampires, ghosties and ghoulies, using music, puppetry, effects, dance and storytelling. It’s a macabre and modern twist on spellbinding tales. Tickets are $25; see reillyartscenter.com for more info.
PARK AFTER DARK: NASHVILLE
If twang and steel guitars are more your style, then check out this nod to Nashville. Cliff Dorsey’s baritone voice draws inspiration from Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Merle Haggard, and he creates a modern spin on country music. Along with the music, you can try out Nashville cuisine such as a fried chicken slider, Tennessee whiskey barbecue rib tips and pineapple sweet tea punch from a food truck. Tickets are $15 and $25. See sholompark.org/events
COPS & CARS
Ocala Police Department Headquarters
This fundraiser features all kinds of classic, muscle and modern cars and trucks, along with tasty goodies from food trucks, live music, vendors and prizes for the fanciest rides. Proceeds benefit the Chief Greg Graham Legacy Foundation. Free for spectators. Check out bit.ly/cops_cars or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Country Club of Ocala
The Red Carpet Affair gala will include live music, cocktails, dinner, dancing and a painter creating artwork in the moment. The party benefits the Transitions Life Center, a nonprofit organization that
helps provide a safe and enriching environment for adults with intellectual disabilities. Dressy attire is encouraged. Tickets start at $200 per person. For more info, see tlcocala.org
Circle Square Cultural Center
Dozens of On Top of the World crafters will show off their skills and wares in this annual fair, which is free to attend. Unique gifts, from jewelry to home décor, artwork to clothing, will be offered. There will be entertainment by Fred Campbell and the Circle Square Commons shops will be open with food and snack options. See ontopoftheworldinfo.com/annual-craft-fair for more info.
NEIL DIAMOND LEGACY
Circle Square Cultural Center
This tribute show to the singer/songwriter will bring back mellow memories. Starring Jay White, accompanied by world-class musicians, the show recreates Diamond’s original sound, with hits like Cherry, Cherry, Sweet Caroline, Coming to America and more. Tickets start at $35. For more information visit csculturalcenter.com
OCALA ARTS FESTIVAL
This is the big annual arts event in Marion County and more than 150 artists are expected to show offerings in watercolor, oil, sculpture, mixed media, photos and more. There will be a variety of entertainers and vendors. In addition to area restaurants, there will be numerous food trucks, such as Big Lees, Ede’s Hamburgers, Grumpy’s Homemade, Kona Ice and Krafty Kettle. Free to attend. For more info, fafo.org/festival
OCALA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
World Equestrian Center
This is a weekend full of flavors with celebrity chefs Lorena Garcia and Timothy Hollingsworth, local pitmaster Rashad Jones and WEC’s own pastry chef Yohann Le Bescond. There will be cooking demonstrations, educational classes, live entertainment and samples of food, wine and spirits. The event benefits the Public Education Foundation of Marion County ProStart program. Note: This is a 21 and older event. Tickets start at $95 for Saturday only. Full weekend packages and five-star experiences are available. See ocalafoodandwinefest.com for details.