Today might officially mark the end of summer, but Florida has yet to get the message. As usual, temperatures are still in the high 80’s as September comes to an end. And they will probably stay that way until the end of October. While tourists frolic on our beaches through summer, most of us locals stay inside, patiently waiting for October’s cooler temperatures. Then the real fun begins. Floridian’s look to the month of October for outdoor festivals – more festivals than any other time of year. There are Oktoberfests, Stone Crab festivals, Music festivals, and Wine festivals. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Olde Bay Café Craft Beer and Crab Festival
Florida’s stone crab season runs from October 15th through May 15th each year, and it is accompanied by multiple outdoor festivals. Dunedin’s festivities commence mid-October with the Olde Bay Café’s Craft Beer and Crab festival in Edgewater Park. Each year, around the 17th of October, white tents and food and beverage trucks inundate the park for a weekend of beer, crabs, and music. The Old Bay Café’s Seafood tent is the flagship tent, serving stone crab claws warm with butter, or cold with mustard sauce, in multiple sizes. Other favorites include the Dunedin Smokehouse tent, the Sweetwater beer truck, and The Black Honkeys band.
Frenchy’s in Clearwater also hosts a very popular Stone Crab Weekend towards the end of October. This year, on October 23rd through 24th, Frenchy’s Restaurant will host its 31st Annual Stone Crab Weekend.
Clearwater Jazz Holiday
Last year Clearwater Jazz Holiday celebrated its 35th anniversary in Coachman Park, the usual venue for the annual 4-day-long music festival. Like most things, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday has evolved over the past 35 years. Once a free festival featuring lesser-known jazz artists almost exclusively, the festival now gets some big names, but it comes at a cost of $25 per person at the door (or $15 in advance). Bonnie Rait; Chicago; and Earth, Wind, and Fire are some of the headline performers of recent years. This year, the festival runs from October 15th through October 18th, and will feature Sheryl Crow, Gladys Knight, Buddy Guy, and the O’Jays, among others.
Epcot’s International Food & Wine festival
During Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, running from September 25th through November 16th this year, over 30 tasting stations surround Epcot’s World Showcase, each representing a different country. At each of these “global marketplaces,” guests can choose from a tasting menu offering approximately 3 unique food items and a couple of drink choices. You can now get a free Disney passport stamped at each country you visit during this event. The Epcot Food and Wine festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.