For the weekend of January 4 and 5, the polo grounds transform into the Renaissance-era Village of Hopewell for The Villages Renaissance Faire. Down the dusty roads, vendors sell jewelry and wooden crafts, sword fighters entertain in a comedy show, and King Henry VIII enjoys a rousing joust. Throughout the day, patrons can also fill their stomachs with hearty fair foods, including massive roasted-turkey legs.
S.T.A.R.S was organized to coordinate community donations of back-to-school supplies for a few hundred elementary school students in need in 2003. Then middle and high schools were included, adding thousands to the list of recipients. Today it is well over 14,000 students receiving supplies.
At The Ultimate Painter Art Gallery, kids and adults take to the canvas fueled by inspiration and expert guidance. The studio provides all the essentials—a canvas, brush, and selection of paints—leaving everything accounted for except your imagination, which can manifest its wildest visions onto a canvas to take home and hang over the pet door just to mess with your dog. On top of that, the staff offers painting services that can turn any home into a beautiful work of art: wainscoting, marble finishing, metallics, and bright sea-sponge texture work, to name a few.
Spun sugar crystals float by spinning horses and pools of docile magnetic sharks beneath the glittering midway lights of Carol Stream Amusements' lively traveling carnival. The nearly 110-year-old fair company's third-generation of stewards bring rides, games, and snacks to states such as Florida, North Carolina, and New York, where it operates the state fair in Syracuse. A 65-foot century wheel soars above the bustle of the music-filled midway, where LED lights twinkle in patterns of white, green, blue, and red around its gondola cars. A merry-go-round sends fantastical steeds cantering around in a stately circle, while bumper cars careen around their nearby enclosure. Carnival games such as squirt-gun races and fishing for magnetized sharks yield prizes such as stuffed animals and inflatable Scooby-Doo, SpongeBob, and Henry VIII dolls, while flurries of corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and taffy apples fall constantly on hungry fair-goers.
Situated on the scenic shores of Lake Eola, Jammin Food and Rum Fest brings together delectable snacks paired with rum drinks from all over the world. As guests take sips at rum tastings, they also drink in the sounds of live DJs and radio personalities conducting meet-and-greets across the park's grassy expanses. Other festive activities include contests, giveaways, and interactive games, such as pin the tail on the rum cask.
On August 9, dozens of independent artisans will converge on the Maitland Civic Center for the Big Bang Bazaar. The one-day festival looks to feature a wide array of items that ranges from soy candles and handmade jewelry to more unexpected gifts, such as beaded X-Files posters. There will be some packaged foods for sale as well, including cake balls and homemade pickles, which are much more enjoyable than pickle-made homes.