Have you ever seen those movies growing up, where there is a truly amazing thing that happens and the crowd doesn’t seem to recognize it? Then slowly but surely, one person begins the “slow clap”. The excitement slowly builds until eventually the crowd is going nuts? That experience my friends is the Old Florida Outdoor Festival in Apopka! Just remember the slow clap is staring now, and by then end of our follow up you’ll be going crazy and wishing you were there this past weekend!
So a bit of background about the Old Florida Outdoor Festival before we begin. We have seen advertisements for the Old Florida Outdoor Festival for a number of years now, but our schedules just never really allowed us to go. We had no idea just what we were missing! We were glad to work with the City of Apopka this year to help a family attend, and look forward to what next year brings as well. Ok so back to the Old Florida Outdoor Festival…. We live about an hour and a half away so it was a nice car ride. We loaded up the boys, and had a chance to try out our new 3rd row seating in the new car since my sister’s family went along with us. We came around the back way and spiraled around the Apopka amphitheater complex. It was massive! I mean we’re talking Disney style parking. You would think we were about to roll up to the Magic Kingdom instead of the Old Florida Outdoor Festival. It was well organized, and there were plenty of actual parking lots so we didn’t have to worry about getting stuck anywhere like at some other events we have been to recently.
The ritual of unloading the boys, grabbing the stroller and of course a handful of return trips to the car and we were finally on the way to the ticket gate! My sister’s family took the complimentary shuttle which was pretty cool. We parked just a stones throw away from the back gate, so I took the stroller and they boys. If you have a stroller, some of the trams have storage space for them, but you may just want to be prepared to walk.
After we exchanged our Old Florida Outdoor Festival tickets for wristbands, we walked in right behind the kids zone. First things first, we all needed to use the restrooms so we took turns locating port-o-lets which seemed surprisingly clean. During the process, we took some time to checkout a surfing ride, zippiness, and other fun kids attractions. Much to our surprise they were completely FREE! That’s right, the kids stuff was zip, zero, zilch, nada! You get the point. Even the rock climbing wall and the bungee jump was FREE! We were shocked and amazed at the same time. Other events and festivals we have been to all charged a-la-carte for additional experiences. My little guy was still a but too young for most of it, but he did give the surf board a go. It was a bit like a mechanical bull, but with a surfing theme.
Do you hear the slow clap building yet? We made our way through the massive tent that housed many of the outdoor related booths. It might as well have bene inside with air conditioning, as it was nice and cool. We saw lots of booths setup including one with an American Bald Eagle. Just picture staring freedom right in the face! That’s just what it was like. Maybe it’s because I’m deeply patriotic, or maybe it’s due to the zoo visits, but my little guy immediately eecognized the eagle. We took the time to stop by other vendors such s the Get Kids Hooked On Fishing local chapter and even had a chance to buy things from bacon themed t-shirts to beef jerky. We even had a chance to visit a booth setup by our friends at the Central Florida Fair. Behind the tent, there was even a group flying some pretty awesome looking kites. It was amazing the tricks that they could do.
Directly across from the tent was the Apopka Amiptheatre! The Old Florida Outdoor Festival this year featured some pretty cool artists such as Montgomery Gentry and Joe Nichols. During the day there was a local music stage setup, and the main stage had some tunes rocking as well. Mostly from a local radio station. We didn’t stay for the concerts, but a friend of mine saw Montgomery Gentry and he said it was a great show! This is the perfect venue for a concert. Reserved seats were available for purchase, but the outdoor amphitheater offered great grass seats with just the general admission as well. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from purchasing reserved seats for the Old Florida Outdoor Festival, but you’ll have just as much fun with general admission.
Continuing on through the Old Florida Outdoor Festival, we sung by a few of the food vendors to grab something to eat. My sister’s family had a variety of things, but two sides, a drink, and a pulled pork sandwich set them back $22! It seemed a bit excessive, but they did mention that every they had was really good! My boys and I weren’t really hungry, so we just hung out for a bit and decided we would checkout the rest of the festival before making a food purchase. I’m really glad we did because at the bottom of the hill was the chili cook off! None of us had ever been to a cilil cook off before, but others we had seen advertised actually charged for the chili. The Old Florida Outdoor Festival on the other hand didn’t! i felt bad for my sister’s family because they just filled up of expensive food, when my family actually filled up on FREE chili! There were about 20 or so booths with a variety of chilis. They were awesome! I happen to live chili, and enjoyed hearing about what was put into each of them. My personal favorite was the Barn Goddess booth. She had some charred peppers and veggies in her chili sandlots of meat. It was the perfect mix! We then placed our vote and received a pig hand stamp. Saturday featured a BBQ competition, but I’m told that there were no free samples, so I’m happy we went to the Old Florida Outdoor Festival on Sunday!
Our friends from Long & Scott Farms even had a small hay maze and farmers market setup. By the time we got through it, it was more of a hay play area and not so much a maze, but my boy and my niece had a good time. After all it was something different to climb on.
Through out the morning we heard quite a few pops that we knew were coming from the gun range. All day there were shooting demonstrations and when we made it to the area, there were hands on demos! That’s right, kids as young as nine years old were able to get some first hand experience actually shooting and handling some .22 rifles. There were tons of rang masters available and there was a one to one instructor/student ratio for safety. My little guys were too you, but maybe in a few years they will be able to give it a shot.. (Pun intended!) Oh and again, this was FREE!
We also stopped to checkout the dock dogs competition which was pretty cool. Basically dogs would jump off the end of a “dock” and into a big pool and the dog that made the farthest leap was the winner. This also had the effect of making the entire Old Florida outdoor Festival pet friendly! There were a handful of pools and bowls actually setup so dogs could cool off or take a drink. Only once did I hear a pair of dogs get into it, but the owners quickly broke it up. Surprisingly enough for the amount of dogs there, I didn’t step in any dog poop.
Another attraction of the Old Florida Outdoor Festival was also the pig races. We weren’t there at the right times, so we didn’t get a chance to seem them. Or was it that the losers were the guests of honor at the BBQ competition the day before?
We ended our day at the Old Florida Outdoor Festival with my niece and brother in law taking a helicopter ride over the festival. We were very impressed, as the commercial food vendors and the helicopter rides were the only things that we needed to pay for in addition to our admission. The helicopter rides were a fraction of the cost of other festivals, at only $20 per person. They must have had three or four helicopters buzzing around the Old Florida Outdoor Festival all day long, but the route the took didn’t seem to cause any issues with any spectators.
We didn’t stay for the main event of the evening, the concert at the Apopka Amphitheater. All day long there were a steady stream of festival goers, yet the complex was so large that it never really seemed to fill up to capacity. This was a welcomed change, as I hate to be crammed in with large crowds. if you wanted to just get away from everyone you could always just pick a direction and start walking.
Now back to the food situation at the Old Florida Outdoor Festival. This is a big complex, but right at the center of the ball baseball fields, is a rather large playground and park area. I didn’t see anyone taking advantage of it. Now granted, if you parked all the way on the other end of the complex it would be quite a hefty walk, but there is a great place to bring a nice picnic lunch. Unfortunately outside food and drinks are not allowed but once you get a wristband you can come and go as you please. Considering there is a tram to your car, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I bet that they would even drive you straight to the park! That would be a great way to enjoy the festival and not spend an arm and a leg for food.
So has that slow clap in your head erupted into full on applause yet? It should have! The Old Florida Outdoor festival was a great experience and an incredible way to spend an afternoon. i can’t believe we waited this long to fit it into our schedule and we’ll definitely be back again next year. The Apopka amphitheater is a beautiful venue and look forward to checking out other events there throughout the year.
Old Florida Outdoor Festival Details:
|Address:||3710 Jason Dwellwy Parkway Apopka, Fl 32712|
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:||$40 Plus Food|