Life is a Festival

It’s festival season once again! Peruse EU’s fest list to plan your springtime entertainment. You?ll find music of all stripes and types from blues and old rock to the newer bands playing Harvest of Hope. Food enthusiasts can go to more than one strawberry fest or even a couple of seafood festivals. If you’re up for a road trip and you love comic books, you can always head to Mega Con. Closer to home garden fests and art fests abound. Whatever your fest preference, the First Coast probably has you covered.

The Florida Strawberry Festival March 4- 14, Plant City, Fl,
The biggest strawberry fest in the state. Arts and crafts, a ball and the crowning of the Strawberry Queen are all part of the festivities. Check the fest musical schedule to plan your fest day around listening to REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Oak Ridge Boys, Switchfoot and more! Day tickets run $4 for kids, $8 for adults and evening headline performances range from $20- 30. (813) 752-9194

64th Annual Azalea Festival March 6- 7, Downtown Palatka, Fl,
Almost every homeowner in Florida has an azalea bush in their landscape,and there are more azalea blossoms here than there stars in a Putnam County sky. The Azalea Festival is located in Downtown Palatka on the banks of the historic St. Johns River. Parking is plentiful and admission is free. Includes a 5K run, wakeboard tournament and pet fest and the annual Azalea Shriner’s Parade. Start and finish is at Ravine Gardens State Park. (386) 328-1503

Harvest of Hope Festival March 12- 14, St. Johns County Fairgrounds,
The second annual fundrasier Harvest of Hope Foundation Music and Arts Festival, March 12- 14th, located at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds in St. Augustine features a three day, multiple stage alternative music festival that is unique in many ways, but mostly because it is all to benefit and raise awareness for nonprofit charity Harvest of Hope Foundation ( Like last year, the line up is stellar including Billy Bragg, Broken Social Scene, the Mountain Goats and Dr. Dog. From February 12th to March 11th, tickets will be $49.50 for the three music-filled days. Walk-up 3-day tickets will be $60. Single day tickets will be available for $25/day in advance and $35/day weekend of. Three-day camping passes are also now available at $19.50/person.

29th Annual Lions Club Seafood Festival March 12- 14, Francis Field, St. Augustine,
This Winn-Dixie sponsored three-day event is a favorite throughout Northeast Florida and features tons of delicious seafood, affordable arts & crafts, outstanding music featuring Valarie Smith with Liberty Pike, Katherine Archer, Lonesome Bert with the Skinny Lizards, Southern Lite, Vinny Jacobs and last year’s contest winner, Kristie Stiles. The event will be fun for all ages, so bring the kids. The business showcase, contests and prizes add to the fun. 3- 9 pm on Friday, 10 am- 9 pm on Saturday, and 10 am- 5 pm on Sunday. Admission is $2 for adults, kids 12 and under free. Proceeds go to benefit Lions Club charities.

Mega Con March 12- 14, Orange County Convention Center Hall D, Orlando, Fl,
The southeast?s largest annual comic book, science fiction/fantasy, anime, gaming, toys multi-media event. There will be a lego pit and lan room along with Star Trek stars, comic book celebrities, costume events, robots, vendors and more! Single day tickets are $25 or a 3-day pass for $55 and kids, 10 & under are free.

Southern Exposure Festival March 14, Alpine Grove Park, St. Johns County,
The event is a benefit for the Stetson Kennedy foundation and will feature a speech from Stetson, a true American treasure, and performances by Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family, Ramblin? Jack Elliot (2010 Grammy winner), Lonesome Bert and the Skinny Lizards, Frank Thomas, Alvah Allen, Willie Green, Shorty Robbins, and Anne Feeney. Expect pony rides and crafts. Tickets are $15. Free for kids under 12.

Great Atlantic Seafood Festival March 20, Sea Walk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach
Enjoy a great day of sunshine while gorging on Florida?s finest seafood, fried, boiled, grilled or blackened with the gentle waves in the background along Jacksonville Beach. Music for everyone. Arts & crafts, rides and games for the whole family. Noon- 10 pm. 270-9301

18th Annual Lighthouse Festival & 5K Run March 20, 81 Lighthouse Ave., St. Augustine,
Admission to the tower, museum and grounds is free from 11 am- 6 pm. The maritime museum will be filled with children?s games and maritime crafts, pony rides, live entertainment, and refreshments. Please remember that for their safety, children need to be 44? tall in order to climb the tower, and an adult must accompany children under 12. As is part of the annual tradition, the Junior Service League of St. Augustine’s 5K Run/Walk will be held during Festival. The 5K Run begins at 4:30 pm and the Fun Run will begin shortly after.

Suwannee Springfest
March 25- 28, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak,
Camp, enjoy nature and some off-beat Americana bands. Donna the Buffalo will be appearing again this year. You can also expect Dread Clampitt, the Steel Drivers and Turtle Duhks. Full festival pass runs $150 and individual date tickets prices have not been announced.

Rhythm & Ribs Festival
March 26- 28, Francis Field, St. Augustine,
The annual Rhythm & Ribs Festival features award-winning barbecue, great live music and children?s activities. This festival continues to grow each year and attracts music lovers and barbeque aficionados from all over the Southeast. Over 20,000 visitors come to enjoy the fun over the Festival weekend. This year’s headliner is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason. Friday 5-10 pm, Saturday 11 am- 10 pm, Sunday 11 am- 5 pm. Admission $2, except for Saturday after 5 pm, when it is $5.

San Marco Art Festival
March 27-28, 1971 San Marco Blvd.,
The splendor has been restored to the Annual San Marco Art Festival. Patrons will get the opportunity to view some of the countries finest artwork ranging from exuberant sculpture, to precious jewels and one of a kind paintings.

Wildflower & Garden Festival March 27, DeLand, Fl,
Take a short ride south to th equaint little Disney-esque town of DeLand for a day of gardening speakers, demonstrations & wildflower and general gardening and related vendors.

Rock-N-Wheels April 1- 3, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak,
Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway and kick off April 2010 with this Hog fest! Recording artist David Cooler will be headlining Rock-N-Wheels 2010 Friday, April 2nd. The three-day rally includes bands, poker runs, the Ray Lytle Memorial Run, vendors, bike games, tattoo contest, bike shows, extreme stunt shows, burnouts, camping and more!

42nd Mandarin Art Festival April 3- 4, Jacksonville?s Mandarin Community Club,
The Mandarin Art Festival storms back for it’s 42nd year. Artists from all over the nation will converge on this historic community Easter Weekend. For this year?s event, the volunteers of the Mandarin Art Festival will be partnering with Howard Alan Events to make this great art fair even better. Art lovers from all over the area will be taking in gorgeous paintings, exquisite jewelry, handmade pottery, breath taking photography and larger than life sculptures. Also present will be a kids art show, a one-of-a-kind green market, as well as a kids Easter egg hunt. Bring the family for this time honored event that offers something for everyone. There is an admission fee of $1 per visitor benefiting the Mandarin Community Club.

George’s Music Springing the Blues April 9- 11, SeaWalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach,
Springing the Blues is a free outdoor blues music festival designed to celebrate America?s indigenous musical form and promote support of the arts. The three-day oceanfront event features a number of renowned blues performers as well as numerous displays and activities geared for the entire family. Headliners for 2010 include Toots Lorraine and the Traffic, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Conrad Oberg, Michael Burks along with ?Lil Ed & the Imperials.

St. Augustine Spring Art & Craft Festival
April 10- 11, Francis Field, St. Augustine,
St. Augustine?s longest-running and most prestigious Art & Craft Festival, produced by the St. Augustine Art Association, the oldest arts group in the Sunshine State, this juried show features over 100 of the best and brightest artists.

Wanee 2010 Music Festival April 15-17, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak,
The first day is an extended party! Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, JJ Grey and Mofro, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeshi Band and more bands will all be there. See the site for camping info and ticket prices.

Down Home Days April 16- 17, Madison, FL,
Just two hours away from Jacksonville is the town of Madison. You can get your dose of down home there at this fest, where you?ll find a parade, rodeo, vendors, crafts, entertainment and more.

15th Annual Flower & Garden Expo April 17-18, St. Johns County Agricultural Center,
This annual gardening extravaganza benefits EPIC Community Services. In addition to a wide variety of vendors offering beautiful and unusual plants, flowers, herbs and other gardening accessories, the Garden Club of St. Augustine offers a standard flower show and gourmet food. Also an exciting schedule of expert lecturers will be sharing information for making your garden grow.

Bradford County Strawberry Festival April 17-18, Downtown Starke,
So you missed the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City? Don?t cry, dry your eyes and schedule a drive to Starke, which has its own, smaller festival for these fabulous little fruits. See arts, crafts and more.

Suwannee River Jam April 21- 24, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak,
Pure country music artistry from Zac Brown Band, rock from Kansas, Travis Tritt and John Fogerty will all be at this Jam Fest! Check out the website for camping and ticket options.

24th Annual Cathedral Festival April 23- 25, The Mission of Nombre De Dios, St. Augustine,
From a flea market to Bingo and a bakery goods booth, you?ll find everything you’ve come to expect from a Catholic carnival, including a Midway, pony rides and raffles. Friday: 5-10:30 pm; Saturday: Noon- 10:30 pm; Sunday: Noon- 9 pm. Adults/$5, Ages 6-16/$3, Ages 5 & under/free, Seniors 65 & over/$3.

A Taste of St. Augustine April 24, St. Augustine Amphitheatre,
St. Augustine?s finest restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes as they compete for the coveted T.O.St.A. and People’s Choice Awards. Noon to 8 pm.

Butterfly Festival April 24, Tree Hill Nature Center,
The festival features a butterfly exhibit, games and activities for children, live entertainment, special lecturers, food and much more. The event runs from 10 am to 5 pm and culminates with nature’s fireworks and a live native butterfly release. This is a sight guaranteed to delight young and old. $4 for adults. $2 under 18 years.

World of Nations Celebration April 29- May 2, Metropolitan Park,
Visit over 25 countries in one day and experience the culture and entertainment.Visitors will embark on an exciting journey where they can learn about Cambodia, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti,?India, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, U.S.A., Venezuela and Vietnam. $5 for a one day pass, $8 for a two day pass.

46th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival April 30- May 2, Downtown Fernandina Beach,
The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival includes dozens of food booths featuring shrimp specialties. The Fine Arts Show has been ranked 38th in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine as part of their 200 Best Shows in the United States. Each year, the Festival is held in the historic Downtown Centre Street business district in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. The festival is a lively mixture of fun including an annual ?Pirate Parade? to kick things off on Thursday and features juried fine arts and crafts show, antiques, live entertainment, Southwest Airlines Kids Korner, contests, pirates, free admission and 25 food booths featuring shrimp prepared every way possible by local non-profit organizations.

Gamble Rogers Folk Festival April 30- May 2,
Music all weekend at eight various venues in downtown St. Augustine, including the Lightner Museum and Flager College auditorium, with featured performances by Loudon Wainright III, Cheryl Wheeler and Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys along with dozens of local musicians, and friends of Gamble. Friday 6:30- 10:30 pm, Saturday 11 am- 10:30 pm, Sunday 11 am- 6:30 pm. 3 day pass $59.50, single day $19.50, single evening $29.50.

Southern Classic Gun & Knife Show May 1- 2, Greater Jacksonville Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall,
$8/adults, 12 and under/Free. Anyone under 17 must be accompanied by a parent of guardian. Saturday 9 am- 5 pm, Sunday 10 am- 5 pm.

Country Throwdown Tour May 16, Metropolitan Park.
Featuring Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Jack Ingram and many more.

Jacksonville Jazz Festival May 27- 30, Main Street, Downtown Jacksonville & various locales,
The 2010 festival will continue the tradition of Jazz in Jacksonville with a variety of jazz genres and special components. Other activities include the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, the Art in the Heart Art Show & Sale, The ABZ Jazz Exhibit at the Cummer, The Wine Down wine tasting and much more.

Florida Folk Festival
May 28- 30, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs
58th Florida Folk Festival, a three-day celebration of the music, dance, stories, crafts and food that make Florida unique. From Irish fiddle tunes and kumquat pie, to the wide varieties of music brought by immigrants, the state?s cultural heritage reflects the lives of generations of Florida families and communities. Throughout the Memorial Day weekend more than 300 performances give voice and meaning to Florida’s heritage.

Jacksonville Bird Club Show May 29, Expo at the Fairgrounds Hall B,
Got a feathered friend? You’ll find tons of valuable information from noted avian expert Dr. Rhonda Stevenson along with a huge assortment of bird accessories, cages, toys and feed. Admission/$4, Under 10 years of age/Free.