One of Mount Dora’s most popular events is rebranded. Don’t miss the 2017 Mount Dora Spring Fest.
Story: Theresa Campbell
Tens of thousands of people are expected in downtown Mount Dora for the 20th year of the Mount Dora Spring Fest, an event where 300 crafters and artists from all over the country showcase an eclectic mix of superior handmade crafts. The event is March 18-19 from 9am to 5pm.
Tavares crafter Tabitha Lauer, 38, one of the exhibitors, will have her one-of-a-kind jewelry creations made from real coins.
“People tell me I should be in high-end quality jewelry stores,” Tabitha says. “I love making the pieces and I love seeing how people react to my pieces. Mount Dora is one of the most most amazing places to be an artist; the shows are wonderful and well organized.”
Formerly known as the Mount Dora Spring Collectibles, Crafts and Antiques Show, it was previously tied with the antique boat show. Event Coordinator Janet Gamache noted it began as a weekend activity to give people more to do, as the men would check out the boats while women would shop downtown.
Over the years, the boat show moved to Tavares, and Janet says the time was right to rebrand the festival since many antique vendors showcase their wares at an antique market.
“There has been a huge decline in the interest in antiques and collectibles,” she says, noting the open-air festival has a new focus. It will be a juried event for crafters with a separate section for collectibles.
Janet says the change is generating lots of excitement.
“It is growing as we change status of it. We are getting more of the fine crafters coming to the event; we are getting a lot of great applications from people I have never seen before,” she says. “Before, when it was kind of antiquely and collectibles, it was hard to get the fine artists to the event when they had to compete with mass-produced types of things. Now, people are coming from all over the country for this event.”
The festival is third largest in Mount Dora.
“It easily draws more than 100,000 people,” says Janet, who has been the event coordinator for five years. She notes the Fall Craft Fair in October is the event with the largest attendance, followed by the Mount Dora Art Festival in February, and this month’s spring show, featuring white tent booths set up along Donnelly, Alexander, Baker, 4th, and 3rd streets—the entire downtown corridor.
“I just love that Mount Dora continues to bring the three events. There are so many festivals that you have to pay to go, and I love that we keep it a community event,” she says. “You can just go and spend the day with your family, and the weather is always gorgeous in March. It’s probably my favorite event.”
The festival is also a big hit with exhibitors from Michigan, New Jersey, and Maine, who come to enjoy the warmer Florida weather.
Janet understands the appeal. She has lived in Mount Dora 10 years, coming to the city for the weather from upstate New York.
“We love that people come and discover Mount Dora. The whole purpose of doing the event is to draw people into the town,” she says. “It’s about showcasing Mount Dora.”
Janet and the local merchants appreciate seeing big crowds, yet they love hearing stories of visitors returning to shop in the local stores and dine in the restaurants—long after the festival tents are gone. Even more exciting is news of visitors who relocate to Mount Dora and other Lake County cities after a festival event.
“We get that all the time that people come back and end up moving here because of all the festivals that we have,” she says. “There is always something to do.”
If you go
20th Mount Dora Spring Fest
9am to 5pm, March 18-19
Downtown Mount Dora
- Sunday is less crowded
- Go early
- Wear comfortable shoes