Florida did not play a major role in America’s Civil War. Only two large-scale battles were fought here, but a number of smaller skirmishes and raids took place in the state, as its long coastline made it strategically important to both sides.
That heritage is celebrated throughout the year with battle reenactments, encampments and other special programs. Reenactments of the two biggest battles in Florida take place early next year — Olustee in February and Natural Bridge in March. A number of reenactments of smaller skirmishes and raids, however, are on tap this fall.
Visitors can watch the reenactments, explore encampments and watch living history demonstrations. A small entry fee sometimes is charged. Most battle reenactments take place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday of the event.
Here are a few such events taking place in Florida this fall.
Fort Clinch, Amelia Island: Union garrisons are staged on the first weekend of every month, with artillery demonstration, marching drills and evening candlelight tours. Dates: Sept. 6-7, Oct. 4-5, Nov. 1-2 and Dec. 6-7. A Confederate garrison is scheduled Oct. 11-12. In addition, the fort daily has a reenactor who plays the role of a Civil War soldier. www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch.
Battle of Marianna, Marianna: This year marks the 150th anniversary of this battle, and a commemoration is scheduled Sept. 27 in Courthouse Square in downtown Marianna.
Rifles, Rails and History, Tavares: The Orange Blossom Cannonball, a train used in two television mini-series ( North and South and Blue and Gray) will star in reenactments Sept. 26-28.
Pellicer Creek Raid, Palm Coast: Oct. 10-12; www.myagmuseum.com/calendar.html
Ocklawaha River Raid, Weirsdale: Daily reenactments Oct. 31-Nov. 2.
Raid on the Suwanee River, Live Oak: First time event, Nov. 14-16; http://heritageparkandgardens.com/, click on “park events”.
Raid on Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce: Dec. 12-14.
FOOD AND WINE GALORE
Walt Disney World’s annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will run for 53 days this year. Starting Sept. 19 and running to Nov. 10, the wide-ranging festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample food and beverages, attend seminars and other culinary events, browse through 25 marketplaces, enjoy special meals, food demonstrations and attend a free concert series. Marketplace booths offer samples of food and wine from $3.50 up. Most events are held in the Festival Welcome Center (the former Wonders of Life building), except for Party for the Senses events, which are given in the World Showcase building on Saturdays. A number of events are complimentary. Premium events such as dinners are separately priced.
A number of new experiences have been added this year: Dining through the Decades, Experience Puerto Rico, Boot Camp Series, Food for Thought, Mediterranean Food and Wine Pairing and Italian White Truffle and Wine Pairing Dinner. These are priced variously from $55 to $295 per person.
DOINGS IN THE KEYS• A chance to help preserve coral reefs in the Florida Keys comes Sept. 13, a day set aside for divers to capture and remove the invasive lionfish, which compete with native fish for food and territory. A $120 registration fee is charged to divers, who will compete for more than $3,500 in prizes. Details: 305-852-0030, www.reef.org/lionfish/keylargoderby.
• Birders and other outdoor lovers get together Sept. 23-28 in Marathon for the 16th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival. Features include guided walks, boat and kayak excursions. Information and required registration: 305-872-0774, www.keysbirdingfest.org.
AROUND THE STATE
Orlando dining deals: For the ninth year, Orlando’s Magical Dining Month promotion is offering special dining deals throughout September. More than 75 restaurants, the most ever, are participating in the promotion, under which a three-course dinner is priced at $33. Some hotels also are offering Dine and Stay packages that include room and a dinner, starting at $145 per night. www.orlandomagicaldining.com and www.visitorlando.com/September.
Rock is back: Once again, Universal Orlando is staging its Rock the Universe Christian music festival, featuring more than 20 bands. Among the bands due to appear Sept. 5 and 6 are Third Day, Switchfoot, Lecrae and tobyMac. Friday features praise and worship, Saturday rock and hip hop. Several pricing options are offered, with a one-night ticket starting at $57.99, a two-night ticket at $95.99. www.rocktheuniverse.com.
Songs and singers: Dozens of singer-songwriters will descend on the islands of Captiva and Fort Myers Beach this fall during the first Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. The festival will take place over two weekends, Sept. 26-28 on Captiva Island and Oct. 3-5 on Fort Myers Beach. Most performances will be free. For schedules and venues, go to www.islandhopperfest.com.