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.
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.
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.
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:
The Jacksonville Zoo, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, recently opened its much-anticipated “Land of the Tiger” exhibit. Five tigers – two Sumatran and three Malayan – are the main attraction. Other Asian animals sharing the 2.5 acres include pigs, otters, and hornbills. Asian plants complete the immersion experience.
One of the most notable aspects of the exhibit is a fenced-in walkway, made to look like a strangler fig, which gives the tigers an opportunity to pass over the pedestrian courtyard to move to a different environment. (Yes, this walkway is for tigers – not people!)
At the time of my visit, three Malayan tigers were out – one walking along the back fence, the others sunning by the pond. I read not to expect to see both species roaming around at the same time. The explanation – “they just don’t play well together”.
“Land of the Tiger” is the most significant addition to the zoo since Range of the Jaguar opened in 2004 and is an experience not to be missed! For more information, visit the Jacksonville Zoo website.
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.
Two events in March honor two very special women who contributed to our communities. Come enjoy the festivities and (hopefully) our much-awaited spring weather while learning more about our area history.
Saturday, March 15th – Carrie Clark Day
Our neighbors across the river in Clay County have invited us to join them in the Carrie Clark Day festivities this year. The Clarks were one of the early families in Clay County and were very active in the community. Their home and surrounding land was later purchased by the town of Orange Park and now serves as a community park. Come enjoy music, games, crafts, food, and a tour of the Clark house.
Sunday, March 16th – Miss Aggie Day
Stop by the Old Mandarin Store and Post Office (corner of Mandarin Rd and Brady Rd) between 12:00 and 4:00 pm for a Moon Pie and RC Cola. Miss Agnes Jones served as Postmistress and owner of this historical building from 1911 to 1964. Each year, there is an award given to a contemporary woman honoring her contribution to our community. This year’s Miss Aggie Award will be presented to Linda Levin, Executive Director of ElderSource. The Ancient Oaks Arts and Farmers Market will also be open.
The downtown Florida Theater is one of Jacksonville’s treasures. Built in 1927 as Jacksonville’s largest movie theater, this Mediterranean Revival style building is one of only four remaining movie “palaces” in Florida. The main lobby is designed as a Moorish courtyard, complete with glittering stars, balconies and fountains. Longtime Jacksonville residents remember fondly hearing the Mighty Wurlitzer Opus 1569 pipe organ played at most events.
One of the most famous artists to perform at the Florida Theater was Elvis Presley in 1956. It is said that Judge Court Judge Marian Gooding sat through the entire performance to make sure Elvis’s body movements were not too suggestive!
As our population deserted downtown and moved to the suburbs, the Florida Theater fell into disrepair. A major renovation in 1983 restored the building to its original splendor. Sadly, the renovation did not include the Mighty Wurlitzer, now adorning Grace Baptist church in Sarasota.
Today, the Florida Theater seats 1,900 and offers an incredible variety of over 200 events each year. From Merle Haggard (country), to Pat Metheny (jazz), Beach Boys (60s rock), Jake Shimakuburo (ukulele), the Temptations (do-wop), magicians, Chinese acrobats, and more, there is truly something for everyone. Check out their schedule at FloridaTheatre.com.
Tallahasse and Gainesville are a distance away, and tickets to a Florida or Florida State game can be hard to find. But there’s lots of spirit here at Jacksonville University, and tickets to the Dolphin football games are priced right! There’s even a pep band and tailgate parties. I attended last Saturday’s game to watch my alma mater Stetson in their inaugural football season. (They did not win.)
Mascot John B Stetson cheers the Hatters on
Games are played at the Jacksonville University campus. Admission for adults is $10, $5 for children and seniors, free parking. Bring a lawn chair; there are food and drinks for sale.
Another win for the JU Dolphins
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