It’s finally autumn in Northeast Florida and that means two things: Everything is pumpkin spice flavored and it’s time for fall festivals!

Everyone is invited to the Markland community this Saturday, November 9, for the Annual Fall Festival at Markland! Markland residents, families, friends and anyone seeking autumn time fun is welcome to attend the free event, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Enjoy crafts, face painting, carnival games, a balloon artist, bounce houses and slides, food trucks, live music, local vendors and much more. Also participate in the charity silent auction!

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There is no doubt about it—Americans love to travel. From dining and entertainment to hotels and transportation, U.S. consumers spent a whopping $761 billion on leisure travel in 2018 alone.

And if there is anything we love more than travelling, it’s getting excited about travel. If this sounds familiar, don’t miss out on the Florida Travel Expo! The free event will be hosted at the World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort this Sunday, November 3, from 12 to 5 p.m.

Even the most seasoned traveler will get a wealth of information at the Expo, which will feature helpful insights and advice on ocean and river cruises, airfare, resorts and hotels, tours, travel fashion, tips and tricks, deals and trends.

Seminars are also planned, helping travelers to learn about international travel, eco-tourism, online booking, traveling alone, being safe during travel and much more. Raffle prizes will also be drawn throughout the day.

This is North Florida’s largest consumer travel expo!

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Do you remember the last time you had an evening out without the kids? Taking time for yourself is important for a parent’s sanity and gives your kids a sense of self and independence. This is true no matter the ages of your children, as everyone can benefit from a little “me” time now and then!

Lucky for us, there is no need to go through the stress of finding, vetting and hiring a babysitter.

 

Instead, your kids can go to a “Parents Night Out” event at one of the several businesses that offer them around World Golf Village. These are great because the kids stay occupied with activities (instead of sitting in front of a screen at home) and get social time with their peers.

Parents Night Out at Little Lambs Playhouse 

When: 3rd Friday of each month (next session: October 18), 5-10 p.m.

Where: Little Lambs Playhouse, 112 Nonami Court in Samara Lakes

Ages: 12 months and older

How much: $40 per child for 4 hours and $15 for each additional sibling

Reservations: (904) 687-0006 or katie@littlelambsplayhouse.com(message Katie to reserve)

More info: This is a great option for parents with toddlers. Pizza and ice cream sundaes will be served in addition to arts and crafts, playtime and a movie. **At this week’s session, kids are welcome to dress up in their (non-scary) Halloween costumes and will be able to decorate mini pumpkins to take home.

 

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St. Augustine is well known for its cultural celebrations, and none are as highly anticipated as the annual St. Augustine Greek Festival!

Running this weekend (October 11-13) at Francis Field, the event will feature all things Greek from authentic food and product vendors to live music and performances by dance troupes. A kid’s zone will also be set up with games and bounce houses.

Interested in learning popular Greek dances like Sirtaki, Hasapiko, Kalamatiano and Tsamiko—or just learning what they mean? Dance lessons will be hosted by dancers from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in St. Augustine. Lessons are open to everyone and will be held between performances at the following times:

Friday – 6:15 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

Saturday – 12:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m.

Sunday – 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

Best of all, local traditional Greek food will be available. Come and enjoy Spanakopita, Gyros, Tiropites (Greek cheese pies), Baklava and much more! The Taverna will be serving imported Greek beers and wines.

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How is the Datil pepper like St. Augustine? We are both fairly small and delectably sweet with lots of spicy flavor, and we share a rich First Coast history! 

To celebrate this very special little pepper, the UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County Agricultural Center will host the 12th Annual Datil Pepper Festival this weekend, October 5-6. The event is free for all and parking is free as well.

The festival’s main attraction is the Datil Pepper Cook-Off between local restaurants. Pay just $1 and you can sample each restaurant’s Datil pepper dishes, and then vote for your favorite dish from each category. Awards will be given to restaurants for “People’s Choice” as well as overall winner based on professional judges.

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If you are looking for ideas to make your home more beautiful, comfortable and efficient (and who isn’t?), plan to be wowed at the annual fall time Jacksonville Home + Patio Show this weekend!

 

Just some of the features include:

- Several speakers including Eric & Lindsay Bennett from HGTV’s Desert Flippers

- An Inspiration Stage (schedule) and Cooking Stage (schedule), each with ideas galore

- 332 Northeast Florida exhibitors offering products and services, all aimed at making your house and yard into your dream home (list of exhibitors)

- A “Make It, Take It” workshop with lots of crafty project opportunities

- Home On The Road feature with the latest homes on wheels from Creative RV and Gander RV/Camping World

- A Skilled Trades Resource Center with info about local apprenticeship programs, including Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA)

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An exciting new Caribbean themed festival will launch in St. Augustine this weekend! The 1st annual Jerk & Curry Music Fest will take place on Saturday, September 14 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. at Francis Field in the historic district.

Part of the festival’s proceeds will go to purchase hurricane relief supplies for Bahamians devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

This family-friendly festival will offer plenty of games, delectable Caribbean-inspired cuisine, live reggae and soca music, dancing, a kids’ fun zone and much more.

Watch contestants sweat it out in the pepper eating contest and jerk wing eating contest! The event will also include a jerk and curry chicken cook-off and classic limbo contest.

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St. Augustine’s 4th annual Sing Out Loud Festival is kicking off this weekend at venues throughout the historic district and organizers are expecting the biggest crowds ever! Concerts are planned for each weekend from Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 29.

The event will feature an impressively orchestrated 334 bands including headliner Kacey Musgraves as well as local poets and comedians. In total, fans will be treated to more than 500 artists.

No matter your musical tastes, the festival has shows for you including indie rock, Americana, blues, hip-hop and R&B, bluegrass, punk rock, jazz and comedy.

Almost all of the festival’s shows are free to attend—a rarity when it comes to great concerts—and require no tickets. The only show to charge admission is the (sold out) finale with Grammy Award-winning country music star Kacey Musgraves on September 21.

Here are just some of the featured performances each weekend. Except for the first show below, all featured shows will be at The Backyard at The St. Augustine Amphitheatre. See a full schedule at https://www.singoutloudfestival.com/schedule/.

  • Friday, Sept. 6 (starting at 6 p.m.)Headliner: Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Guests: Christina Wagner, Raye Zaragoza, The Attack (Venue: Colonial Oak Music Park)
  • Saturday, Sept. 7 (starting at 7:45 p.m.) – Headliner: Kurt Vile and the Violators, Guest: Reels
  • Sunday, Sept. 8 (starting at 6 p.m.) – Headliner: Jenny Lewis, Guests: The Watson Twins, Lucie Silvas
  • Friday, Sept. 13 (starting at 5:30 p.m.) – Headliner: Propagandhi, Guests:The Coathangers, Debt Neglector, GILT
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Being the No. 1 school district in the state means more and more families are moving to the area to take advantage of the outstanding schools. Compared to last year’s first day of school, this year’s first day saw a 6% increase in students county-wide, or 2,240 additional kids.

With this big increase, officials are working hard to maintain our outstanding reputation for academic excellence—and safety.

More associate teachers have been needed to meet the demand and stay compliant with maximum classroom capacities (18 kids for K-3, 22 kids for 4-8, and 25 for high schoolers). In fact, even after the start of the school year on August 12, the county still has job openings for teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians and food service workers.

Beyond the increased needs for staff and faculty, new measures are being taken to ensure schools remain safe from potential threats. Terrible tragedies, like the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, have had a major impact on how all schools approach their own security.

Here are a few changes the district is making to keep your kids safe:

– New surveillance system:A new security surveillance system called Omnicast is being rolled out, which allows the Sheriff’s office to view school camera feeds from a single location. According to the school district’s CIO Bruce Patrou, “A number of schools are now online. We expect to have all of the remaining cameras online over the next two to three months.”

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St. Augustine’s newest residents fit perfectly into our laid back, coastal lifestyle. In fact, they sleep up to 20 hours a day and spend most of their time lounging in trees at their new home in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

Meet Teddy and Grizzly, two mature sloths who moved to the Alligator Farm this summer and made their debut to visitors last week.

The male and female Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloths were brought to St. Augustine from Busch Gardens in Tampa and spent much of the summer in quarantine to ensure their safe acclimation to their new home. Their Alligator Farm rainforest habitat, which was built just for Teddy and Grizzly, mimics their native environment in Central and South America.

But don’t expect a spectacle on par with the park’s alligator feedings and wildlife shows. Sloths, named for their slow movements and low metabolism, are nocturnal and will likely be sleeping during your visit! Nevertheless, they are easily visible in their new habitat.

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