If you part the branches of Mixon Fruit Farms’ citrus trees, you might spy an unusual sight: Burmese pythons, an alligator, a crocodile, and African land tortoises basking in the sunlight, surrounded by cages of roosting falcons.
The farm that began in 1939 as a 20-acre roadside fruit stand has stayed true to citrus farmer Willy Mixon’s vision of showcasing the region’s natural splendor. But in addition to an extra 50 acres of fruit trees, the farm has expanded its focus to include a wildlife refuge, where rescue volunteers nurse injured animals back to health and educate visitors on native and exotic species. The farm also hosts an on-site tropical garden along with dazzling koi ponds, and has a magical maze open to kids of all ages.
Along with daily tours of the grove and sanctuary, Mixon Fruit Farms also spotlights Florida’s bounty with citrus-infused ice cream and salads at Groveside Café. Homemade fudge and orange juice also populate the 14,000-square-foot gift shop
As a local non-profit, the State Theatre has vivified the cultural landscape for nearly a century through applause-worthy performances and engaging community programs. Come February, Stomp will explode onto the stage with percussive rhythm and movement, and Glen Burtnik & Friends will honor John Lennon's 70th birthday by serenading a Fab Four-loving crowd with beloved hits such as “Strawberry Fields Forever” and lesser-known tunes such as "Tangerine Terrain Temporarily." Surrender your eardrums to the marching band musicality and show-stopping steppers of DrumLine Live, or treat a theater-craving youngster to the food-fueled metamorphosis of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a black-lit puppet presentation of a childhood classic.
Three Florida-based acts will entertain crowds with a mix of R & B, Southern rock, and funk during "Beach Chair Blues Night," held in Jannus Live's well-appointed outdoor courtyard. Sitting in their own beach chairs, attendees can groove to the soulful sounds of the headliners, the Mike Kach Group, whose eponymous singer and keyboardist tickles ivories on piano, organ, and stray elephant. Local guitarist and vocalist Jimmy Griswold serves as a special guest for the evening, and Southern rock opening act The Standback Band will perform with a recruited roster of fellow Bay Area blues musicians.
Popular globetrotting pop collective Architecture in Helsinki transforms Crowbar into a throbbing, futuristic discotheque as its latest tour storms American shores. Formed in Melbourne, the ambidextrous dance band stirs fans with a tornado of flamboyant sounds, infectious anthems, and commitment-free instrument swapping. With hits such as “Do the Whirlwind” and latest single “Contact High,” lead crooner Cameron Bird and his cakewalking team of tunesmiths tickle ear bones and rehabilitate ankles in support of its latest album, Moment Bends. During the kaleidoscopic performance, the band seduces dance floors with 10-foot hooks and sounds culled from hypnotic synths, romantic glockenspiels, and strummed chest hairs. Filling out the bill, Swedish dance wizards Lo-Fi-Fnk enchant with instant club hits and songs for strobe-light campfires, and pop enthusiasts Dom charm with stargazing Casios. Crowbar invites Groupon holders backstage after the show to meet the band, discuss musical influences, and take notes on how to hit the elusive high Z note.
Though entertainment fads come and go, movie theaters remain, tempting audiences with fantastical stories new and old. The film buffs behind the Tampa Pitcher Show understand this craving for narrative connection, filling their movie hall and bar space’s calendar with first-run films, alternative events, and live music that helped them take home the prize for Best Kept Secret in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2011 Reader’s Poll. Within the theater, projectors hum to life with current hits and cult classics every night; weekends welcome special happenings that include Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-casts, art bazaars, and comedy shows. The Take 2 Lounge dispenses a sprawling menu of bar fare, including burgers, pizzas, and beers such as Magic Hat #9, Southern Tier, and Florida Avenue Ale flowing from 13 tap lines.
Running off the infectious sonic fumes from his I Am Not a Human Being album and upcoming full-length Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne lands his spaceship for a speaker-blowing stop on the extended leg of his summer tour. The Grammy winner touts an impressive curriculum vitae, punctuated by CEO status, unabashed genre crossing, and standout lyrics woven together with sagacious metaphors. Although Tunechi fans can anticipate a high-octane performance rife with hit singles as well as mixtape favorites, the tour's white-hot opening acts acclimate concertgoers with equal parts R & B silk, rap grit, and synth-powered spunk. Frequent Lil Wayne collaborator and Miami boss Rick Ross partners with breakout diva Keri Hilson, club-bangers Far East Movement, and velvet-voiced Lloyd for a hard-hitting evening that rivals at-home puppet shows outfitted with homemade pyrotechnics.