Entertainment ideas for the whole family, August – December in Alachua County

By the beginning of August, sunscreen bottles are beginning to run dry and school supply shopping is well underway; the telltale signs that summer vacation is coming to its inevitable end.

Fall is quickly approaching, serving as a galling reminder that, yet again, our 2017 resolutions will stay unfulfilled; however, as we near the holidays and the New Year, local businesses offer up fun activities and put on some of their best annual events.

The hardly-noticeable drop in temperature brings plenty of opportunities to experience the Gainesville area’s vibrant spirit and culture, and provides another chance to call that friend you’ve been meaning to get together with since March.

Make the remaining months count and support your local organizations by attending these entertaining, family-friendly events that are fun for a variety of ages:

Gainesville Wing Bowl

The 6th annual Gainesville Wing Bowl will take place at Splitz on Aug. 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Gainesville Wing Bowl is an evening of food, music, bowling and a competitive chicken wing-eating contest that raises money and support for the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), a local nonprofit organization that helps abused and neglected children.

“Gainesville Wing Bowl is definitely a unique event,” said Amber Miller, the CAC’s development coordinator. “It’s both exciting and stomach-turning at the same time. The amount of chicken wings some of these contestants can hold down is mind blowing.”

The event is co-presented by Team Dynamo Real Estate and Montini Orthodontics. Team Dynamo Real Estate buys and sells residential real estate, commercial real estate, condominiums and vacant land in the greater Gainesville area. Montini Orthodontics uses the latest technology to provide people in the areas surrounding Gainesville and Ocala with orthodontic care.

Gainesville Wing Bowl has raised over $36,000 for the Child Advocacy Center to date, allowing them to further expand their programs and services. The Child Advocacy Center has been serving the community since 1999 and won the award for “Non-Profit Business of the Year” in 2010.

Tickets to the event are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5-10 and include admission to the event, dinner and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Octoberfest at Rogers Farm

Rogers Farm invites people of all ages to come out and enjoy its annual Octoberfest every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the month of October.

The event features hayrides, a petting zoo, a spooky 12-acre corn maze and plenty of Halloween activities.

According to Larry Rogers, owner of Rogers Farm, the corn maze isn’t for the faint of heart.

“Oh yeah, expect to be scared,” said Rogers. “We got a couple chainsaws out there, some scary suits and masks.”

The event is from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m.- 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Admission is $10 for the maze and $10 for the other activities, or $14 for both attractions, and admission is free for children under the age of 3. A covered picnic area offers a variety of concessions onsite, including burgers, hotdogs, beverages and deep-fried Oreo cookies.

Roger’s Farm operates 1,000 acres of farmland between Gainesville and LaCrosse and has been selling fresh fruits and vegetables for 35 years. Their produce is picked each morning and is sold at their main location at the corner of State Road 121 and Northwest 156th Avenue.


Join the Alachua County Humane Society at the Barn at Rembert Farms to celebrate the 2nd annual Woofstock on Oct. 13.

Woofstock is an evening of live music, food, drinks and auctions all benefiting the Alachua County Humane Society and their mission to end the unnecessary euthanasia of shelter animals.

“Its thrilling to be part of such an incredible movement for pets and pet owners,” said Margot DeConna, the Humane Society’s director of development. “We are very proud that Woofstock raised $37,000 for the Alachua County Humane Society last year!”

The Alachua County Humane Society (ACHS), located at 4205 NW 6th St., is a limited intake, no-kill shelter that has been serving Alachua County for more than 40 years. Last year, animal rescue partners of the ACHS saved thousands of animal lives and achieved a 90% live-release rate.

The event is from 6-10 p.m. and individual tickets for the event will be available September 1st. Businesses can support Woofstock to receive tickets and other sponsorship benefits.

The music line-up is coming soon and will be posted on the event website at http://www.alachuahumane.org/woofstock/.

Florida Bat Festival

The 13th annual Florida Bat Festival, which takes place on Oct. 21 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., provides visitors with the opportunity to tour the Lubee Bat Conservancy and observe fruit bats up close.

Guests will learn about the integral role that bats play in the environment, how to protect bats’ habits and how to conserve bats for generations to come. The festival will have food, refreshments and merchandise available for purchase, along with bat-themed activities and entertainment.

Admission to the festival is free for children 4 and under, $5 for children ages 5-12, and $8 for adults.

The Lubee Bat Conservancy in Gainesville, located at 1309 NW 192nd Ave., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bats through research and education. The conservancy was founded in 1989 by Luis F. Bacardi and today houses more than 200 fruit bats.

Downtown Festival & Art Show

The nationally recognized Downtown Festival & Art Show celebrates its 36th anniversary on Nov. 11 and Nov.12.

Presented by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the festival unites 240 local and national artists in downtown Gainesville to celebrate art and creativity.

The streets from City Hall to the Hippodrome will be filled with tents displaying original paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other various creations. The event provides people with the opportunity to purchase unique artwork while enjoying food and live entertainment by local bands and musicians.

“This is a great opportunity to begin your holiday shopping now,” said Sunshine Andrei, the events coordinator. “That’s what makes it so successful. It’s the perfect time of year in Gainesville and the perfect time to purchase one-of-a-kind artwork for that someone special.”

The weekend will kick off with a free blues concert on Nov. 10 from 7- 10 p.m. with performances by the North Central Florida Blues Society.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs strives to maintain the natural and recreational facilities in the Gainesville area and manages over 3,200 acres of parkland. With their help, the Downtown Festival & Art show has ranked among the top festivals in the nation.

University of Florida Craft Festival

The Stephen O’Connell Center hosts its annual Craft Festival on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

The event features hundreds of local artisans selling their homemade crafts and other merchandise, and provides the perfect opportunity to buy unique holiday gifts for everyone on your list.

For the general public, tickets are $4 in advance and $5 at the door. Tickets for UF students are $2 in advance and $3 at the door.

The Stephen O’Connell Center, completed in 1980 and dedicated to UF alumnus Stephen O’Connell in 1981, has hosted the Craft Festival for over two decades.


By Lauren Vehar

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