Enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the Treasure Coast at these festivals and special events
BY SUSAN BURGESS
Grab the calendar and start filling in the blanks with festivals and special events around the Treasure Coast. They are a great way to relax and have some fun, enjoy the fresh air, meet some new people and get away from it all. Almost everything is family-friendly so you can bring the kids for an unforgettable good time.
Not every festival or special event is on this list but you’ll find many of them below. If you’re looking for holiday events in December, see the Holiday Datebook.
Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival — The 32-year-old downtown street festival keeps getting better and is now free. After returning to its roots last year by featuring local musicians, it has now added the Pineapple Fields concert venue. The fun carnival rides are back, and so are the creative arts and crafts. Expect to see the pineapple theme throughout the area in art galleries, restaurants, contests and activities. 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Nov. 22-24.
Treasure Coast Bacon Festival — Formerly in Fort Pierce, the festival is now in Vero Beach. Showcasing mouthwatering recipes with bacon, the festival will fulfill the dreams of bacon lovers. Bacon-wrapped pickles are among the unusual dishes. Enjoy live entertainment, vendors and a kids zone, all in Riverside Park, Vero Beach. Free admission. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Nov. 16-17.
Festival of Trees — See a forest of more than 50 custom-decorated trees, wreaths, unique gifts, an unusual gingerbread village, enhanced ice skating rink for the kids, Santa’s Village, live performances, meals with Santa and the entire Riverside Theatre campus in Vero Beach beautifully decorated for the holidays. This year’s theme is Winter Wonderful. Nov. 22-24.
Ocean Sole Africa — At McKee Botanical Garden, see bright and colorful marine animals made by young Kenyan artists from discarded flip-flops retrieved and cut into pieces. The pieces are assembled into turtles, fish, dolphins, seahorses, an octopus and many other marine species. Forty of these whimsical pieces will delight garden visitors. November through May.
Stickwork Returns — Internationally acclaimed landscape artist Patrick Dougherty, also known as “The Stickman,” is returning to McKee Botanical Garden to delight visitors with a new creation woven from willow saplings harvested from a farm in upstate New York. A team of McKee volunteers will work alongside Dougherty to construct what begins as a figment of his imagination and evolves into a masterpiece for all to enjoy. His work in 2016 at the garden created three tall towers that lasted 2½ years before succumbing to the elements. Takes place Jan. 8 to 26.
Stuart Boat Show — Visit the largest boat show on the Treasure Coast and take in the sight of hundreds of boats from runabouts to yachts on display in the water and on land. Browse related products including electronics and engines from more than 200 exhibitors, attend seminars, and enjoy music, food and drinks. Old Dixie Highway, North Stuart. 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. Jan. 10-12.
Treasure Coast History Festival — Whether you are just visiting, were born here or this is your adopted home town, the festival is full of surprises and fascinating stories. This year features two free presentations at the Sunrise Black Box Theatre. At 11 a.m., an expert speaks about ancient Ais Indian culture on the Treasure Coast. At 1 p.m., relatives, friends and students gather to tell stories about famous landscape artist A.E. “Bean” Backus. See historical re-enactors, go on a ghost tour, check out the historical trolley rides, browse rustic crafts and visit the Old Florida Authors Alley. Purchase tickets for a genuine Summerlin family fish fry. Presented by Indian River Magazine, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 11.
Home and Garden Show — This show has the wow factor! From custom tiki huts and outdoor kitchens to raised garden beds and organic gardens, you’ll find fascinating products that will start you dreaming. Learn about solar energy and how to hurricane-proof your home. At the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce. Starts at 10 a.m. Jan. 11-12.
Vero Beach Winter Arts & Crafts Expo — Enjoy 115 booths of creativity and handcrafted items at the Indian River County Fairgrounds. Right next to the expo you can visit the Home and Remodel Show. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 11-12.
Mac and Cheese Festival — How many yummy ways can mac-and-cheese be made? Come to the festival in Tradition in western Port St. Lucie and find out. Starts at noon on Jan. 18.
Port Salerno Seafood Festival — One of the most exciting waterfront seafood festivals in the region, it attracted more than 40,000 people last year. Fresh seafood caught by local fisherman will be served up and there will be entertainment on three stages. Hosted by the not-for-profit Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Authority, proceeds are shared with many local organizations. Free parking and shuttles are offered. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; food served 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 25.
Taste of Little Italy — Arrive hungry! As mouthwatering scents waft through the air visitors will want to try many of the dishes food sellers are offering. Set in the Tradition community in western Port St. Lucie, it offers cooking demos and a popular wine seminar, bocce, fun contests, festival games, carnival rides, live entertainment and Italian-themed vendors. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. March 6-8.
Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts — Experience the works of more than 200 of the nation’s top artists and skilled craft artisans exhibiting along Dixie Highway from Bridge Road to Venus Street. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1-2.
Gardenfest! — Riverside Park in Vero Beach turns into a beautiful garden for the 19th year with more than 85 vendors on hand to show off plants, pots and creative garden accessories. Experts with advice and lectures are featured each day. Enjoy the food court and let the kids try some crafts. Enjoy free admission and free parking. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 1-2.
61st Martin County Fair — The fair has lots of new features this year. Opening night offers free admission for everyone. Antiques: Bring your own antiques and collectibles for judging on uniqueness and condition. Art: The famous Highwaymen are exhibiting in the art barn. Crafts: Visit the new crafts store where handmade items will be sold. There’s an exciting midway carnival, small and large animals, agriculture, food, entertainment, a fair queen and much more. Hours vary. Feb. 14-22.
Treasure Coast Pirate Fest — Ahoy, swashbucklers and little buccaneers! Enter the world of pirates at Veterans Memorial Park, Fort Pierce. Climb onto a pirate ship and survey the pirate encampment, meet mermaids and watch historical re-enactments. Take part in the treasure hunt and costume contests, play in the kids zone, dance to the sounds of pirate bands, visit the arts and crafts booths and enjoy the food and drink. Hours vary. Feb. 14-16.
St. Lucie County Fair — This year’s theme is “Thrills, Squeals and Ferris Wheels.” The brightly lighted midway offers rides of all kinds, from small and gentle to large and scary. Enjoy all the elements of an old-fashioned county fair, with small animals, livestock, home arts and crafts, demonstrations, a fair queen, games and rides, entertainment, clowns, food and more. Hours vary. Feb. 28-March 8.
Downtown Stuart Art Festival — Stroll Osceola Street in the quaint Stuart downtown enjoying original art including paintings, pottery, photography, jewelry, sculpture, glass, fiber and more. Artists will be at the booths ready to talk about their works. Whimsical and practical works of art are offered by about 150 national artists in a juried art show. (Exhibitors must be approved by a panel of art judges to enter.) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 22-23.
Indian River County Firefighters Fair — Hosted by Indian River County’s firefighters, this old-fashioned county fair features all the great fair events including entertainment, animals, good food, home crafts, games, rides, competitions, agriculture and funny characters roaming around to make it a family treat. Kids will love the Firefighter Training Show, racing pigs and more. Hours vary. March 13-22.
Under the Oaks Fine Arts and Crafts Festival — This is one of the best shows in America, voted No. 17 by Sunshine Artist magazine in its ranking of the 200 best in the nation. Experience more than 200 artists from around the country displaying their works under the huge oaks in Riverside Park, Vero Beach. Browse, marvel at, and buy fine arts and crafts. The food court features 11 vendors. Free admission and free parking. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 am. to 4 p.m. Sunday. March 13-15.
New York Mets Spring Training — The Mets begin spring training at 1:10 p.m. on Feb. 22, playing the Miami Marlins at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie. Training ends March 22. Single game tickets on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 14 at mets.com or by phone at 772.871.2115.
Shrimp Fest and Craft Brew — Three days of shrimp, craft beer, live music, vendors and events for children. There is a beer tasting event Saturday and a car show on Sunday. Riverview Park in Sebastian. Times vary. March 20-22.
Downtown Stuart Craft Fair — Fascinating crafts exhibited on Osceola Street in quaint downtown Stuart. Experience the exciting, unique creative work of skilled craftsmen in pottery, sculpture, photography, jewelry, clothing, handmade baskets and so much more. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 28-29.
Sandy Shoes Seafood and Brew — Sandy Shoes returns to Veterans Memorial Park in Fort Pierce. Sample delicious seafood and craft beers, cheer the competitions, enjoy the vendors and music all day and evening. Craft brew pavilion open 2 to 6 p.m.; chowder competition from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 21.
Fort Pierce Oyster and Sea Fest — New this year to this annual event is a raw bar with an outdoor lounge. Enjoy more covered dining and a much larger spread of oyster dishes and seafood selections. Feast on plump oysters made in at least 13 different ways, from fried to grilled, stuffed, fritters and more. Also enjoy delicious landlubber food. Shells are saved for oyster restoration projects to help clean the water of the Indian River Lagoon. Live entertainment, arts and crafts, and guaranteed fun on the waterfront at Veterans Memorial Park. Free admission. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. April 4-5.
Hibiscus Festival — This fun weekend showcases historical downtown Vero Beach with music, booths, a fine arts and crafts show, children’s activities, a parade and lots more. April dates to be announced.
Martin County Shrimp and Lobster Festival — Enjoy succulent lobster and shrimp, premier artists, crafters, musicians and a children’s area at Memorial Park in Stuart. The seafood menu is extensive and includes deviled crab, conch fritters, lobster tails, coconut shrimp, jerk fish and much more. There is also a non-seafood menu. Dates and times to be announced.
Stars Over St. Lucie — The sparkling annual Fourth of July Celebration in downtown Fort Pierce delights all ages. Fireworks start at 9 p.m. Festival runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. July 4.
Ghosts of Fort Pierce Past 2020 — Historic walking tours feature re-enactment of famous “ghosts.” Trolley tours leave every 15 minutes and last about one hour. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28-29.
Sights & Sounds on 2nd Street 2020 — This beloved festival and parade in downtown Fort Pierce will be followed by a tree lighting. Dec. 6, 1-5 p.m.; parade at 4 p.m.