There’s something for everyone at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair and Expo. Livestock shows, exhibits, concerts, food and midway rides all offer family friendly entertainment.
Midway at the Jacksonville Fair
Midway rides offer thrills and chills
The Fair runs through November 15th and is located in the sports complex downtown at the fairgrounds adjacent to Everbank football stadium.
Happy 450th birthday, St Augustine!
Established in 1565 when Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived with 800 colonists, St Augustine is America’s first city. Tapestry – the Cultural Threads of First America is the Commemoration signature exhibition that shares the story of how three intertwining cultures – Spanish, African, and Native American – came together to form the foundation of the American culture.
This beautiful exhibit features authentic objects, original documents and interactive elements that can be enjoyed by all ages. One of the featured items is a large-scale replica of the San Pelayo, Menendez’s flagship – a gift from the city of Aviles to St Augustine in honor of the celebration. There is also a citywide passport program that connects visitors with important historical sites throughout St Johns county.
The exhibit is FREE and located at the Visitor Information Center, 10 West Castillo Drive in St Augustine. For more information, call 904.805.1053 or visit their website.
Each year, the first weekend in May brings the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Did you know that more than 80% of the Florida Atlantic shrimp is still harvested in the water here?
Enjoy arts and crafts, food, entertainment, and of course, plenty of shrimp. The activity is downtown along historic Center Street, and admission is free.
There are many exciting activities going on in the First Coast area this weekend. Here are two of my favorites:
Mandarin Art Festival, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00 on the Mandarin Community Club grounds at 12447 Mandarin Road
This year marks the 46th Mandarin Art festival, and I think I have attended almost all of them. Classical guitarist Don Thomas will be back this year playing acoustic tunes under the oak trees. Enjoy food, vendors from all over the country, family activities and great camaraderie!
There will also be Mandarin themed items available for purchase. Here is a picture of the t-shirt design by artist Julie Fetzer:
Manatees Rule by Julie Fetzer
St. Augustine Easter Parade, Sunday 3:00-4:00 downtown St. Augustine
What’s not to love about a parade in our nation’s oldest city! See bands, clowns, horses and, of course, the Easter Bunny. The parade begins at Mission Nombre de Dios and proceeds down San Marco Street and Cathedral Place.
Last weekend, visitors to Fernandina Beach, FL were treated to tours of two replica ships given by the Columbus Foundation. Here are some interesting facts and pictures from the event:
Both of the replica ships were built in Brazil by a group of master builders using design and construction techniques dating back to the 15th century.
Construction began on the Nina in 1988. The Pinta was built 16 years later to accompany the Nina on her tours. The replica ships have no home port because they are on tour 11 months a year.
The Pinta is the larger ship at 85′; the Nina is 65′ in length. The ships are black because they were coated in pine tar, a natural water resistant. They have auxiliary power to use when traveling between destinations, but can sail when there is a strong aft wind and a big body of water.
The crew are volunteers from all over America, and the Columbus Foundation is always looking for more! You may apply online at thenina.com.
The Pinta returned home from the 1st Voyage and disappeared from history. The Nina accompanied Christopher Columbus on the 2nd Voyage, and Columbus chose her as his flagship for his voyage to Cuba. She was the only vessel to survive a 1495 hurricane in West Indies, and returned to Spain in 1496.
There are no plans at present to build a replica of the Santa Maria, as she would be too big to make it through the waterways where the other ships travel. Also, it appears Christopher Columbus did not like her and called her slow and clumsy.
Fernandina Harbor is located at the base of historic Centre Street. After leaving Fernandina, these ships will travel to Savannah.
Seafood and Sailboats will grace Florida’s First Coast this weekend. In St. Augustine, there is the Lions Seafood Festival Friday through Sunday. There’s an Arts and Crafts Village, live entertainment, and lots of seafood.
In Fernandina, visitors can tour not one, but two replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships. The Nina, and her larger sister, the Pinta will be docked at the base of Centre Street through Monday.
The most highly-anticipated show in the Jacksonville Artists Series is here at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, and you don’t want to miss it!
The stars of the show are puppets, made of leather, cane and aluminum struts. It is the puppeteers who bring Joey, the War Horse, and the other assorted horses, birds and farm animals to life. A head puppeteer stands outside each horse and two other puppeteers inside the body. The movements are incredibly life-like, and it takes no time at all for one to become emotionally attached to the horses.
How was Jacksonville fortunate enough to be chosen for this show? Well, it seems that Michael Morpurgo, author of the novel “War Horse” requested the show come to Jacksonville so his 90 year-old cousin, Betty Bergmark, could see the production. “War Horse” is also being performed in London and Berlin, the capitals of the countries who fought each other in World War I.
The journeys of Joey, the horse, and Albert, his young owner who joins the army to search for him, are not always easy to watch. But ultimately, the ending is happy and the show is breath-taking. I loved this show!
Information and tickets are available by phone (904) 442-2929 or online at the Artist Series website.
A Gingerbread Extravaganza was recently held at the former St Andrews Church, now home to the Jacksonville Historical Society. Here are some pictures of the event:
The meticulous detail given to each home was so impressive. One of my favorites was a rendition of the former home of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, created by the Mandarin Historical Society. This historical building is now the home of the Mandarin Community Club. Note the Mandarin orange trees in the yard!
Florida Sun Cats is hosting a cat show this weekend, January 17 – 19 at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk downtown. More than 200 cats will be competing in 7 rings. A cat show offers a wonderful opportunity to see and learn about many different breeds. There are Bengals, Sphinx, Ragdolls, Persians, Siamese, and more. There’s even a special category for housecats!
Lucas has brought his cat all the way from South Carolina to be in the show.
Vendors will have booths with cat-related items for sale. And if all these kitties make you want to add a new member to your family, Lucky Cat Adoptions will be on hand with homeless cats and kittens seeking forever homes.
Hours are from 4:00 to 9:00 pm Friday and 9:00 am to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, and $5 for seniors, children and military. More information and photos are at FloridaSunCats.org.
November is such a beautiful month to enjoy a fall festival in Jacksonville, Mandarin and St Johns! While other places further North are having their first snow storms and leaves have long since fallen, we are just beginning to enjoy our fall weather.
These pictures were taken yesterday at San Juan del Rio Church in St. Johns. To find a festival near you, just look around; there are signs everywhere at churches, schools and community clubs.
More upcoming events:
- Fall Festival and Chili Cook-off November 23, 11:00am-3:00pm, at the Riverplace Shopping Center in Mandarin
- Mandarin Community Club Open House November 17, 12:00-4:00pm
- San Marco Art Festival, November 16-17, 10:00am-5:00pm, on San Marco Boulevard
- And, of course, the Greater Jacksonville Fair at the downtown Fairgrounds, November 6-17