Here's a selective survey of outings. Go -- before it's too damn hot
Atlanta Braves Spring Training
"America's team" gets in shape to regain its world championship title of two seasons ago. Practice sessions (8 am-noon) begin with Thursday, Feb. 18, pitchers' and catchers' workout; the slate of afternoon and night games includes a March 4 exhibition game against Georgia Tech and a for-real contest with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on March 7 (both at 1:05 pm). Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resorts, Lake Buena Vista; practices $8, $6.75 ages 3-9; 363-6600. Game tickets ($8.50-$15.50) available through Ticketmaster at 839-3900.
Florida Manatee Festival
Oh, the hu-manatee! Get in touch with your animal side at the 15th annual extravaganza of wildlife-themed arts, food, rides and entertainment, including shows by Lee Greenwood (6 pm Friday), The Peking Acrobats (1 pm Saturday) and The Supremes (7 pm Sunday). 5 pm-10 pm Friday, 10 am-10 pm Saturday, 10 am-8 pm Sunday; Rock Crusher Canyon Amphitheater, 275 S. Rock Crusher Road, Crystal River; $7.50, $2 children ($10/three-day advance, $15/three-day gate); (352) 795-3149.
Silver Springs Rodeo
Go ropin' the wind at the annual cowboy conclave of bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. Sweethearts of the rodeo are crowned Miss Silver Spurs and Little Miss Silver Spurs. 2:30 pm daily; Silver Spurs Arena, 1875 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee; $15; 839-3900.
Central Florida Fair
Find the midway point between county fairs of yesterday and today, with continuous entertainment that includes exotic animal shows, livestock exhibits, rides, an Elvis impersonators' fest and Florida band showcase. 3 pm-10 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-10 pm Saturday and Sunday; Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive; $5, $2 ages 6-10; 295-3247.
Florida Strawberry Festival
The seeds of spring bear fruit at this 11-day harvest of rides, shortcake gobbling and musical performances held in the free grandstand (reserved seating is also available at $5 and $10). Featured acts include Loretta Lynn (Feb. 25), Trace Adkins (Feb. 26), Marty Stuart (Feb. 27), the Beach Boys (Feb. 28), Billy Ray Cyrus (March 1), Charlie Pride (March 2), Neal McCoy (March 3), Wayne Newton (March 4), Bryan White (March 5), Terri Clark (March 6) and Vince Gill (March 7). Who you callin' a 'seed? 10 am-10:30 pm daily (midway open until midnight); Plant City Fairgrounds, 2202 W. Reynolds St., Plant City; $6, free to ages 10 and under; (813) 752-9194.
Women's Playwright Festival
Distaff drama takes center stage in this debuting showcase of original works by female writers and directors from Central Florida and points north. Pinocchio scribe/scenarist Christine Robison barks up another tree in the world premiere of her "All Women Left of Center." Performances of that and other works are staged 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday; Civic Theatres of Central Florida, 1001 E. Princeton St.; $15; 896-7365.
Seminole County Fair
A new entry in the cotton-candy derby, this 10-day carnival sets itself apart from the rest of the family-fun pack by incorporating "superstar lookalikes" into its Marionette Star Theater shows. ("Look, kids, it's Truman Capote!") 5 pm Monday-Friday, noon Saturday and Sunday; Seminole Towne Center, 200 Towne Center Circle, Sanford; free; 826-4608.
Be a hog-ridin' reprobate or just look like one at this traditional rendezvous of professional and amateur Hell's Angels. Main Street and A1A is the nexus point for the colors-flying melee, with races, special performances and aggressive games of skill dominating the landscape as far as the whiskey-blinded eye can see. For details, cut your motor long enough to listen to the helpful representatives of the Daytona Beach convention bureau at (904) 255-0415; race information is available by calling Daytona Inter-national Speedway at (904) 253-7223.
Pig in the Park
Call 'em and cook 'em at the 2nd annual porkers' festival, including barbecue contests, craft fair, hayrides, a Model T parade and music by Cactus Jack and the Cadillacs (rock), Divine Honor (jazz), Tim Coons (folk), Gael Rising (Irish) and Shoes for Paul (rock). 6 pm-10 pm Friday, 9 am-10 pm Saturday; Mead Gardens, 1300 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park; free; 599-3334.
Kissimmee Bluegrass Festival
The grass is always bluer on the other side of the Bee Line Expressway, as this 22nd annual hootenanny proves with its three days of music and outdoor fun. Bring your own lawn chair to kick back and sample the down-home sounds of The Lewis Family, New Tradition and other banjo-pickin' traditionalists. 1 pm-midnight Friday ($15), 10:50 am-midnight Saturday ($20), 10 am-2:50 pm Sunday ($15); adjacent to Silver Spurs Rodeo Arena, 1875 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee; three-day pass is $30 in advance, $35 at gate (children under 16 free); (813) 783-7205.
Rotary Orlando Street Painting Festival and Downtown Orlando Art Festival
Chalk it up to experience: In its fifth year running, Orlando's biggest showcase of sanctioned vandalism again has hundreds of artists decorating the asphalt of City Hall Plaza with flights of underfoot fancy. Entertainment includes music by Zazu, the Heavenly-ettes Gospel Group, Marblefeather, The Moonlighters, Corn Smoke, Frederic Hodes and South America's Andean Nation, plus smooth stepping from the International Folk Dance Ensemble and the Irish troupe Tir Na Griene, and a closing "pops" concert by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. The adjacent juried fine art and craft festival spills over onto Orange Avenue and South Street. 10 am-dusk Friday-Sunday (Art Festival Saturday and Sunday only); free; call 648-8797 for the street painting festival, or 251-0806 for the art festival.
Orlando St. Patrick's Day Parade
Before you float away on a river of green beer, follow the more sure-footed as they march from Lake Eola to Church Street in this 3rd annual procession of emerald pride. 3 pm Saturday ("Leprechaun Village" at Orange Avenue and Church Street has pre-parade games, storytelling and activities); free; 916-8314.
Images: A Festival of the Arts
Image is everything at this sale and display of works by 200 fine artists, including hands-on demonstrations and continuous live entertainment. 9 am-5 pm Saturday and Sunday; Riverside Park, New Smyrna Beach; (904) 423-4733.
40th Annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Everything from sad-eyed puppies to, well, actual art is available for open-air perusal and purchase at this seasonal mainstay, this time featuring more than 250 exhibitors and jazzy sounds from Bob James with Earl Klugh (Friday), Walter Beasley (Saturday) and Gabriela Anders (Sunday). 9 am-6 pm Friday-Sunday; Central Park, downtown Winter Park; free; 672-6390.
Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival
Follow the Elizabethan street flags and bus placards to Lake Eola Park's Walt Disney Amphitheater for the festival's 10th repertory season, including $7 preview performances of Twelfth Night on April 1 (opens April 2) and Henry V on April 7-8 (opens April 9). To further salute the past decade of Bardian excellence, the returning "Renaissance Revels" again get medieval on yo' ass with dancing, singing, juggling, fire-breathing, sword-fighting and music that begins one hour before show time. Performance schedules of the twin classics overlap over the course of the festival. $6-$35; 245-0985.
Native American Festival
Talk about a gathering of the tribes. Dancers representing the numerous Indian nations dominate a schedule that also includes reptile shows, blow-gun demonstrations, traditional encampments, Native American cuisine, pottery demonstrations, trading booths and plenty of audience participation for attendees who can cut the Custer ... uh, mustard. 4 pm-10 pm Friday, 10 am-10 pm Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday; The Casements, 25 Riverside Drive, Ormond Beach; $3, $2 children; (904) 676-0741.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Late bloomers get their 6th chance to witness Disney's annual explosion of more than 30 million blossoms. Horticulture workshops and hands-on demonstrations polish your green thumb, while music from flower-child icons helps you get yourself back to the garden. 9 am-9 pm daily; Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; $42, $34 children; 824-4321.
Orlando International Fringe Festival
You never know which storefront locations this festival's small-scale works of comedy, music and drama are going to inhabit, nor which will prove to be the pearls amongst the zirconia. What's certain is that the 8th annual extravaganza -- to be centered this year around an outdoor stage at Church Street Market -- features more than 500 shows by more than 60 performing groups. Eleven stages include the free outdoor stage and a kid's venue, as well as a new "bring-your-own-venue" option for touring groups. Fringe Central at Church Street Market is the place to buy the $4 entry button (individual performances range from free to an additional $8); 648-0077.
Maitland Spring Festival
It's a shore thing. Arts and crafts by more than 200 exhibitors rest alongside Lake Lily in this juried display and sale. No live entertainment this year, but the visual offerings (and food) should be enough to keep you walking to the waterline. 9 am-5 pm Saturday and Sunday; 641 S. Maitland Ave., Maitland; free; 644-0741.
Melbourne Art Festival
If you just can't get enough of the season's in-town art weekends, roll on down the highway to this display and sale of works by more than 250 struggling visionaries. Activities for the kids and continuous live entertainment help make the drive worthwhile. 9 am-11 pm Saturday, 9 am-5 pm Sunday; downtown Melbourne; free; 722-1964.
Brush up on your Latin at the 12th annual ethnic celebration, where authentic foods and music by sub-equatorial masters of rhythm advance the atmosphere of hot-blooded friendliness. Noon-8 pm; Orlando Festival Park, East Robinson Street and North Primrose Drive; free; 381-5310.
Wading Bird Festival
Had it up to here with inferior nature fairs? The Orange County Parks and Recreation Department teams with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission to offer boat tours of the wading bird colony at Moss Park, plus viewing of nesting avian creatures, educational exhibits and lectures. Just don't get in over your head. 8 am-2 pm Saturday; 12901 Moss Park Road; free; 273-2327.
Zellwood Sweetcorn Festival
Keep your ears peeled for further news of this 26th annual shuckin'-and-jivin' event, whose organizers are still cob-bling together a program of eating contests, rides and activities, including a Sunday concert by the easy-to-swallow Mark Chesnutt. 10 am-6 pm Saturday and Sunday; Zellwood Fairgrounds, 4523 Ponkan Road, Zellwood; ticket price TBA; 886-0014.
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