Florida panther, bobcat at Osceola Co. festival
Eleanor C. Foerste | Special to the Orlando Sentinel
Posted October 15, 2006
Harvest moon, clear nights, crisp morning air and the time change are phrases to describe October. This year, celebrate this terrific time to be outside and spend the last weekend of the month with family and friends at the Great Outdoor Fest at Osceola Heritage Park, between Kissimmee and St. Cloud.
The Great Outdoor Fest will be from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 as an open-air event with music, food and entertainment. While the free afternoon concerts will draw people from around the region, I am hoping for lots of locals to come and enjoy the many activities at this outdoor extravaganza. Plan to spend the day, as there will be lots to see and do.
Bring your blanket or lawn chair for free outdoor concerts on the lawn. On Saturday at 4:30 p.m., the Kingstreet Band is the opening act for Gator Country, which includes members of the band we knew as Molly Hatchet. On Sunday at 11 a.m., there will be a country gospel showcase by Ready Records. At 4 p.m., Jim Van Fleet of Fox News 35 will go on stage with his band, The Reign, followed by Diamond Rio. If you enjoy classic rock or country, these bands will be a treat.
There will be lots to do before the concerts. This year, Gatorland will have a traveling alligator exhibit as well as other wildlife on display. There will be a gator-wrestling show twice a day in the Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show arena and a demonstation of techniques used by historic trappers when they hunted the huge reptiles for food and skins.
At the Historic Village area, an old-time alligator trapper will tell stories of the old days, show how they tanned hides and explain what life was like in those early days for Central Florida settlers. Also, meet other living historians representing Spanish explorers, native Timucuan Indians and English explorer and botanist William Bartram.
This year, Farm-City Days is a part of Great Outdoor Days. It features games, farm animals and displays as well as a carnival with bounce houses, slides and games. Milk a cow, visit a worm farm, make butter, visit a honeybee hive and learn about agriculture and our food-production system.
The folks from Hands-On Wildlife Safari are bringing some of Florida’s native cats, including the Florida panther and bobcat, so you can see natural wildife up close. They will have a large selection of animals from Florida as well as some exotic animals that are becoming a problem in our natural areas. Folks often get pets that outlive the owner’s interest. Boa constrictors and iguanas are creating a problem in the Everglades ecosystem. Find out why at the exihibit.
The Florida Office of Greenways and Trails and the Florida Trails Association will show where you can hike and enjoy the outdoors locally as well as around the state. Osceola County Parks and Recreation staff will have information on where to play close to home.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be busy with exhibits about fishing and hunting. Try your hand at hooking a largemouth bass on the virtual fishing boat or wet a line at the fish pond where 18-inch catfish were caught recently. No need to bring your gear. Cane poles and bait will be provided. Novices are welcome. Fishing is only catch and release, but it is great fun for youth and adults.
Fish and Wildlife will have a free archery area, so try your hand with a bow and arrow. The National Rifle Association is planning an air-rifle shoot, so test your marksmanship skills at its booth.
Anglers will enjoy hearing Terry Seagraves’ fish tales during the Lake Toho Pro-Am bass tournament weigh-in at 3 p.m. Saturday. The pro fishermen bring in some whoppers and hang around for autographs.
Tuscawilla BASS Masters are hosting a casting contest. Let members teach you how to cast, pitch or jig your lure into just the right spot, or enter the casting contest. There also will be an area to practice your golf swing.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will bring an airboat and have boating-safety tips.
There will be a national barbecue championship and classic car show, as well as a boat and RV show.
Too many activities to list, but check out the schedule at greatoutdoordays.com.
Eleanor Foerste is a natural resources agent with the University of Florida/IFAS Osceola County Extension office. She can be reached at 321-697-3000 or email@example.com.