Tag Archives: Free

Tapestry – the Cultural Threads of First America

Tapestry exhibitHappy 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.


Meet the Maple Leaf Divers

The Maple Leaf was a luxury cruise vessel, commissioned into service as a Union cargo supply ship during the Civil War.  On April 1, 1964 the ship struck a submarine torpedo in the St. Johns River and sank off the coast of Mandarin Point.

Maple Leaf Divers

Steve Michaelis & Keith Holland outside the Mandarin Museum

Finding and retrieving the Maple Leaf had been a lifetime dream of Dr. Keith Holland, who with several friends founded  St Johns Archaeological Expeditions Inc.   After days of searching, the divers located the ship under 8 feet of silt and recovered over 3000 objects.  They relinquished their rights to the artifacts to keep the collection intact.

Now, through the end of the year, you can view the collection at the Mandarin Museum at the Walter Jones Historical Park on Mandarin Road.  Come on Sunday, August 17th or Saturday, August 30th between 11:00 and 4:00 to meet several of  the divers.  Hearing their stories about finding the ship, the difficulty of working with the silt and debris, and the steps necessary to preserve the artifacts, truly bring this exhibit to life!

The National Park Service has said the Maple Leaf is the “most important repository of Civil War artifacts ever found”, and the wreck has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a beautiful place to take a short hike or spend a couple hours enjoying nature.

Here is a link to a short tour:


Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival this weekend

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.

Music Under the Oaks

Calling all acoustic players – there’s a new event going on at the Walter Jones Historical Park.  On the 4th Sunday of every month, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm,  come join your neighbors for an informal sing-along on the front porch of the Museum.  The gathering is hosted by the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society in partnership with the North Florida Folk Network, and will run through October.

When I attended last Sunday (without my guitar, ukelele, or dulcimer), the group had just moved inside due to the threat of rain and was happily singing “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore”.  So dust off that instrument and join in.  See you next month!

Sing-along in the Mandarin Museum

One Spark Jacksonville

Sculpture on display in Hemming Park at One Spark Jacksonville

For 5 days, April 17-21, One Spark  lights up downtown Jacksonville.  One Spark gives creators, artists , entrepreneurs and innovators a venue to showcase their work.  And there’s $250,000 to be distributed based on public vote.

You’ll enjoy speakers, food, music and entertainment.  So come downtown and join  the festivities!

Learn to Play an Instrument at George’s Music

That’s right – George’s Music offers FREE introductory learn to play classes just about every Saturday.  Do you have an old guitar or banjo in your attic?  Or perhaps you’ve purchased an instrument and a couple books and just haven’t gotten around to figuring out what to do with them.  Well, George’s is a great place to start.


George’s Music is the Musicians Superstore.  With stores on Blanding Boulevard near I-295, and on A-1-A in Jax Beach, George’s offers a wide selection of instruments and musical supplies.  If you don’t have an instrument and are not sure what you’d like to learn to play, they’ll even loan you one for the free class!

Classes are offered at various levels for guitar, mandolin, ukelele, banjo  and more.  Check their schedule at George’s Music and be sure to call to register.  I promise you will have a great time and leave knowing how to play a new tune!

Matt Ostler instructs a group of students on the art of playing a guitar finger-style at George’s Music

Foto Friday

 Memorial Park is located on Riverside Avenue on the the St. Johns River.  The 5.8 acre property was purchased by the city of Jacksonville in 1919 for a park to honor the 1200 Floridians who died in World War 1.  The bronze sculpture Life was created by the renowned Charles Adrian Pillars (1870-1937).

Today, Memorial Park remains a focal point for historic Riverside and offers a a place for a pleasant stroll, picnic, or just enjoying the St. Johns River views.

Take a FREE Cooking Class

Are dinners getting blah and boring?  Tired of cooking the same old things?

Attend a 1-hour Technique Class at Williams-Sonoma and you will enjoy a fun demonstration, sample great recipes, and leave with fresh, new ideas.   Last Sunday’s class,  Hearty & Healthy Vegetarian Dishes, was one of the best ever!  Culinary Specialist Evan Fowler prepared Butternut Squash Risotto, Spaghetti Squash, and Roasted Acorn Squash.  Everyone had a great time, and I left with 3 new favorite recipes, free handouts loaded with more ideas, and even a few purchases!  Coming back next  Sunday, October 18th for Fall Baking.

Evan Fowler prepares Butternut Squash Risotto at Williams-Sonoma in Jacksonville, Florida

If you go:  Cooking Technique classes are usually at 11:00 am on Sundays, and reservations are needed.  I attended at the Avenues Mall in Jacksonville, Florida.  Check with your local store for dates and information.

Browse Books & More at the Library

The present Main Library was built as part of the Better Jacksonville plan and opened to the public in November 2005.  The facility is state of the art!  Most of the branch libraries in Jacksonville were updated and remodeled at the same time, and are a center of community activity.

Main Library at Hemming Plaza

The library of today offers much more than books.  Inside you will find music, movies, videos, DVDs, recorded books, magazines, and rows of computers with internet access.  Gone is the card catalog of old, though others who went to school years ago like me will be comforted by seeing the Dewey decimal system still in use.

With your library card, you will also have access to an online account where you can search for books, look for upcoming events, renew checked out items, and check the status of your account.

Mandarin Branch Library

There are also many programs offered at the library.  One of the most popular programs at the Main Library is the Music @ Main, a series of FREE music programs in the Hicks Auditorium.  The new fall season is about to get underway – more info coming soon!

More information about our libraries may be found on the City of Jacksonville website.