A fund-raising event for The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, Rocks for Education aims to draw audiences with a family-friendly mix of music, comedy, and more. Emmy winner and Local 10 News anchor Laurie Jennings will serve as the event's emcee, and stars David Henrie of Wizards of Waverly Place and Drake Bell of Drake & Josh will engage spectators with songs, comedy, and other unmimed entertainments. Performances by local dance teams and American Idol contestant Symphony Music Howlett will add to the rhythmic stew, making the event more melodic than a Broadway musical about Mozart and the pianos who loved him. The evening's beneficiary, The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, bolsters learning for little ones with advocacy, parent/teacher training, and resources such as a demonstration school.
The Florida Renaissance Festival is a wholly different world––a world of jousts and costumes and turkey legs. Here be dragons, or so the armor-clad knights would have you believe. At the festival, live shows recreate the romance of the Renaissance with references to Shakespeare and swordplay on 12 different stages. Meanwhile, merchants share the secrets of their crafts, blowing unbreakable glass for spectators and selling hammered pewter goblets. Visitors, dressed in period garb or not, can wander on their own, exploring the shows and stalls, or trying their hands at games of chance while gnawing on scotch eggs and chocolate cheesecake.
As you stroll across Fruit and Spice Park's grassy fields, an occasional piece of fruit falls from a neighboring tree. But it's not an apple or a berry you can easily find in a local supermarket—rather, it may be a specimen native to the Caribbean or South America, its shape foreign to your teeth, which want so badly to bite into its juicy flesh but aren't sure how. At Fruit and Spice Park, seasoned gardeners grow abundant specimens from tropical areas around the world, including 70 kinds of bamboo, 15 types of jackfruit trees, and edibles such as Fiji longan and jaboticaba across 39 acres.
Visitors meander freely through banana groves and African baobab trees, and they can also follow a guide during tours to learn more about plant species and which fruit seeds bear an uncanny likeness to Abraham Lincoln's silhouette. Throughout strolls, guests may help themselves to any of Mother Nature's home cooking that has naturally fallen to the ground, including mangoes, dragon fruit, and papayas, or venture to the tasting table at the entryway to sample the season's bounty.
Park staffers also gather visitors for a range of events such as stargazing, outdoor festivals, and plant-use tutorials, where they divulge helpful information such as which plants are medicinal and how to play dead during tree attacks. During regular park hours, chefs at the Mango Café pile plates with casual fare, often using the park's own fruit and vegetables, and the gift shop lets guests bring home harvest jams and aromatic teas.
Thrown by Florida Rock Stars, the South Dade Food & Country Festival brings national and local acts together for an afternoon and evening of country music. The event helps raise funds and awareness for Thinking of You Services, a local veterans support organization. As the community rallies around them, all visiting veterans will receive a certificate of recognition with special commendations from the mayors of Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay.
Tucked between Biscayne Bay and Highway U.S. 1 sits Coconut Grove, which locals refer to as a village within a city. Though enveloped by Miami's sprawl, the neighborhood retains the air of a quaint seaside town, with waterfront parks, fun local eateries, and a yearly seafood festival that combines those two amenities.
The Coconut Grove Seafood Festival takes place in Peacock Park on October 20th, a mere five days after official Florida Stone Crab season opens. Vendors serve up the signature, buttery crab in local dishes, but they also bring together some of the most famous seafood flavors from around the world, using fresh caught fish. They grill fillets in Jamaican jerk seasoning, stir fry shellfish in paellas, and slice raw tuna to stuff sushi. They also boil clams and oysters in traditional New England chowders, or spice crawfish to match the hearty flavors of Cajun Jambalaya.
While the chefs ply their trade and provide cooking demonstrations for interested visitors and ambitious seagulls, musicians perform on stages and kids frolic in the family fun zone. In between food vendors' stalls, artisans peddle nautically themed arts and crafts. The festival also houses a fish market called Grove Wharf, where expert fishmongers help visitors pick out the perfect fillets for dinner.
Of the more than 700 films submitted to the Miami Short Film Festival from across the world, only 74 make it to the big screen, chosen for their excellence in abbreviated movie-making. Selections on display at each of the fest’s five days of screening include narrative films, animation, music videos, and three-act family-vacation slideshows. This year’s choices include Juan Manuel Ortiz’s Domingo, whose stark filming style catches the eye as it explores environmental concerns, and Mark Nickelsburg’s Harry Grows Up, the tale of an 18-month-old child living on his own in New York City.