The first full October weekend of events at the 9th Annual Beaches to Woodlands Tour of Santa Rosa County offers something for all ages with plenty of incentives to get outside and enjoy the cooler fall weather.

“The Jay Peanut Festival is a “must-do” for many each year along the region,” said tour coordinator, Karen Harrell. “And from there the Classic Country Music Festival at the Farmer’s Opry is a natural stop. But if you’ve got small children, nearby are a variety of country-living activities they will enjoy including mazes, farm tours, pumpkin patches and more.”

Also, the first weekend of events includes a Free Fishing Pole Giveaway at Navarre Pier and following that the free Coastal Encounters where children and adults learn about sea life at a variety of interactive stations at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station.

“The free fishing pole giveaway is in its third year and because it has been such a popular event, the organizers have increased the number of poles to 500. I advise that people register (fishnavarre.com) as soon as possible. Last year they gave away more than 400 poles and this year they are expecting even more,” Harrell said. “And from there I recommend people take their kids over to Coastal Encounters and let them enjoy the touch tanks and other fun activities.”

Kid’s under age 12 receive the free fishing pole with a caveat that they must stay to fish. Also, the Navarre Pier is offering free kid’s fishing (under age 12) weekends the entire month of October. Also, for the second year, the Avalon Landing RV Park is offering free saltwater fishing for all ages each Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Runners and walkers won’t want to miss the City of Milton’s Riverwalk 5k, which features a rare afternoon start time (5 p.m.) The course takes participants through historic downtown Milton and the scenic Riverwalk along the Blackwater River. Registration is ongoing and available on-site.

Other events include the new Navarre Chamber’s Small Shop Crawl, a progressive event that aims to introduce participants to the variety of shops and restaurants in the area with incentives to hit them all. Holley Hill Pottery and Kiln will sponsor its first of three tour open houses. A Florida Trail Hike is Oct. 7 at Bear Lake in Munson.

Also returning is the Blue Jeans and Barbeque sponsored by Covenant Hospice, but the event has relocated to the Red Barn BBQ and is transformed into a mini-festival with games and entertainment. Others include the St. Augustine Canterbury Episcopal Church’s “A Splash of Spirit,” a wine and art auction event and the Coldwater National Fox Hunt, a hound competition for youth under age 18, which is new to the tour.

The first of four weekly lectures will be offered at historic Arcadia Mill and the Gulf Breeze Zoo will offer birding encounters and other activities.

Also offered each weekend of the tour are agritourism events including the Sweet Season Farms Corn Maze, Holland Farms Tours, Pumpkin Patch and Hay Ride; the Dixon Primary Haystackuland. Also new this year, “Family Fun on the Farm” at the Whispering Pines Christmas Tree Farms.

“If a family participates in just one of these events I think they will want to come back for more,” Harrell said. “We all lead such busy lives and these events don’t require any kind of electronic devices - just clean-living fun. I think we all miss that in our 21st century world.”

Sponsored by the Tourist Development Council, the self-guided Beaches to Woodlands Tour is designed to showcase the many attractions and diversity of the area during a key shoulder season. Most of the events are free or low-cost, tied to an area fundraising effort and family friendly.

“We do encourage folks - if they can - to take time out for a weekend vacation and enjoy the opportunity to experience the area’s many treasures without the heat and crowds of summer,” Harrell said. “There is no better time, in my opinion to take a vacation. Once the holiday season hits people are rushed for time.”

Santa Rosa County offers a diverse range of lodging options from traditional hotels to luxury beach rentals, wooded cabins, RV parks and primitive camping and best of all - offseason rates are among the lowest of the year.
More information can be found at www.thebeachestowoodlandstour.com or call 850-939-8666.




Oct. 4, 5, 6
3rd Annual Farmer’s Opry Classic Country Music Fest, 8897 Byrom Campbell Road, Milton, Fla. 3 p.m.- 10 p.m. daily. Tickets for the show are $20 and the meal $11.27 plus tax. A host of country music veterans will perform over this three-day family-friendly and alcohol-free festival at the Farmer’s Opry in Chumuckla including “The Nashville Million Dollar Band” and special performance s by more than a dozen others. The event also includes a classic car show sponsored by the Panhandler Cruisers from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and RV enthusiasts from around the country hosted by the Country Goodtimers” will fill the on-site campground. The event will also feature a live video stream. The climate-controlled venue is a rain-or-shine event. Details: 850-994-6000 or www.farmersopry.com.




Oct. 6-7
Coldwater National Youth Fox Hunt - Dogs and their owners will make their way to Santa Rosa County from across the Southeast. Children up to age 18 can participate, entering hounds into fox hunting races at Coldwater Recreation Area, part of the Blackwater River State Forest in Milton, Fla. For more information, contact Ken Prescott at 850-554-4818. For reservations at Coldwater Recreation Area, call 850- 957-6161 weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. CDT. Information is also available at www.floridaforestservice.com




Oct. 6
Jay Peanut Festival - Gabbert Farm, 3604 Pine Level Church Rd., Jay, Fla. Celebration of one of Santa Rosa’s staple crops: the peanut. Popular annual event marks its 22nd year and showcases farming life past and present and gives people a chance to experience country life. The festival features a 1930s Farm Museum and 1940s John Deere Dealership, food booths, games and fun. Event was started in honor of Melissa Caroline Gabbert who died more than 20 years ago from complications from cancer. Details: Brenda and Gene Gabbert, (850) 675-6823.




City of Milton Riverwalk Run 5K, 5 p.m. This popular and rare afternoon race starts at intersection of Berryhill Avenue and Willing Street and traverses through Historic Downtown Milton. Registration is $15 until Sept. 6; $20 after Sept. 6. Mail-in registration forms are available at www.riverwalkrun5k.com. Registration also will be available on race day between 4 - 4:45 p.m. at the Riverwalk Pavilion Proceeds benefit youth and senior programs. If you are interested in volunteering, call 850-983-5466.




9th Annual Coastal Encounters at Navarre Beach Marine Science Station - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Navarre Beach Park. Youngsters enjoy an interactive day of fun learning about sea life – and the importance of protecting the environment. Presented by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Services (IFAS - Santa Rosa campus) with students from Navarre High School’s award-winning marine science program serving as counselors. Free. Details: (850) 623-3868.




A Splash of Spirit, 6 to 8:30 p.m. St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, 7810 Navarre Pkwy., Navarre. Local artists and businesses will highlight an elegant evening which includes a silent auction, wine tasting, heavy hors d’ oeuvres and more. Tickets are $10 and auction items can be viewed at: staugustinesnavarre.com/ASplashofSpirit/ASplashofSpirit.htm. Details: The Rev. Anthony MacWhinnie 850- 939-2261




Navarre Small Shop Crawl, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. sponsored by the Navarre Beach Chamber’s Small Business Development Committee. Meet at 9 a.m. at Alphy’s Catfish House, 1900 Hwy. 87 S in Sandollar Plaza. Treat yourself for breakfast and pickup complimentary shopping bag and map. This fun event features small businesses throughout the Navarre area who are chamber members and pay the $25 participation fee. Visitors are encouraged to fill out a registration form to be entered in a drawing for a cash prize and anyone who visits all participating businesses and get their card map will be entered into a second drawing. About a dozen businesses are expected to participate. Details: Chanda Ryan 850-939-3267 or www.navarrechamber.com.




Blue Jeans and Barbeque Family Festival, sponsored by Covenant Hospice. New location this year at the Red Barn BBQ, 5887 Hwy. 90, Milton, Fla. 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Event is rain or shine with indoor and outdoor space. Includes children’s activities, live entertainment from the Rowdies and the Clickin’Cloggers, sponsor booths and a silent auction. Tickets are $20 adults, $15 ages 3-12, 3 and under are free. Tickets include meals, entertainment, games and prizes and a delicious BBQ dinner from Red Barn BBQ. Details: 850-438-9714 or eventsatcovenant.org.




OCTOBER 6
Free Kid’s Fishing Pole Giveaway and Clinic at Navarre Beach Pier, 8 a.m. First 500 children under 12 receive a free fishing pole, t-shirt and hat. Participants are encouraged to pre-register at fishnavarre.com or if available, day of event. The event includes free bait and fishing instruction. Details: (850) 936-1794 or www.navarrepier.com




Oct. 6, 20, 27
Holley Hill Pottery and Art Studio Kiln Openings, 7505 Buckeye Dr., Navarre, Fla. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open three weekends on the Tour! The Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society has the largest wood fueled anagama kiln and the only reconstructed wood fueled kiln from the 1940’s in the State. Holley Hill Pottery has been making pottery in Santa Rosa County for over 30 years using local clays capturing the lifestyle, scenery and sea life of the Gulf Coast. Details: Brenda or Marty Stokes (850) 939-2744 or martyandbrenda@bellsouth.net