Why is May such a great month for holding events? Sure, for our Northern friends, it means the end of bad weather, the opening of roller coaster parks, and a change in the scenery as the trees and flowers start to show their summer colors, but here in Florida, it's more like the start of the summer's hot, humid, rainy monotony, the arrival of the tourists, time-share owners, kids on summer vacation, religious zealots protesting Gay Days, and of course, bad drivers in rental cars.
The main reason I look forward to May every year is the arrival of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (Thursday the 15th through Monday the 26th). Every year, theatre companies, dancers, comedians, clowns, musicians, improv actors, writer/directors, solo acts and large ensembles, exuberant teenagers and road-hardened veterans alike grace Loch Haven Park with their creativity and energy, and Orlando gives every ounce of it (and more) back to them as many of the national and international acts begin their Canadian Fringe circuit, which brings them to a new city every two weeks. Show prices range from free (as in free software) to $10, and all shows require the one-time purchase of a $6 festival button - 100% of your ticket money goes to the artist. This is one of the only unjuried, uncensored events I know of in Orlando outside of a few open-mic nights, and even some of those are passing judgment on the performers (the other best example here is BarCamp).
18 months ago, I started gathering a group of my friends together every third Monday of the month for an event called Florida Creatives Happy Hour (Monday the 19th, 6PM @ Loch Haven Park). Now, those original 8 friends are hardly in the same room, but the group has grown to something resembling a small political party representing the creative professionals and hobbyists here in Central Florida (with a group getting started in Jacksonville as I write this). This month's Florida Creatives falls during the Fringe Festival, so at 6PM on the 19th we will be descending upon their "Green Lawn of Fabulousness" to have a beer and some soul food and socialize. At 7:45, we will be attending American Squatter, starring Barry Smith, the creator of last year's sell-out hit Jesus in Montana. Tickets are $10 plus your $6 Fringe button.
Despite the fact that Fringe starts on the same day every year, another festival seems to think they are better than the Fringe, by starting on the exact same day. Yes, the Florida Music Festival runs Thursday the 15th through Sunday the 18th this year, at pretty much every available venue downtown. In past years, you've been able to buy a one-time pass that gets you in to all the shows for the whole weekend, as well as nightly passes - buying a ticket to just one show will hardly do such an event justice. The festival also has a short film as well as an art contest, check these out too if you can find the time in between all of the other events happening at the exact same time.
What other events? How about that bizarre craft bazaar held semi-bi-anually at Stardust Video & Coffee, Grandma Party? (Saturday the 17th, 10AM to Sunset) For some reason they opted out of celebrating Earth Day in favor of overlapping with FMF and Fringe this year - the reason why is left as homework for the reader. Actually, if you find out, please try to explain this one to me too. At G-ma Party, you'll not only find loads of handmade goods, like the cereal-and-eggs inspired work of the Breakfast Bunch, but trendy t-shirts, buckets of buttons, live music by some of Orlando's best local bands (at least those who are friends with the festival organizers), a bal-looney community pool, and of course rummage piles and raffles.
Not as culturally significant, but still worth a mention, the second ever Florida Drupal User Group meeting will be held at the offices of MindComet in Maitland this Saturday (May 17th, 1PM). Check out the event and any follow-up at groups.drupal.org/florida.
Still more to come in this round-up of events, because I couldn't write such a blog post without mentioning the Corazon Art and Music Festival being held at the Orlando Brewing Company (Sunday the 18th, starts 1PM, All Day). As I'm writing this I don't have access to any listings, but I know tickets are $5, and I can give a serious recommendation, as this event is being thrown by Robert and Jonathan from Gamble Records, the folks who brought us the ELLA Music Festival in October. I expect you will see lots of singer-songwriter type acts, and you can trust Robert Johnson's rolodex to bring you some great music (and art?).
There must be more happening during the next two weeks, but isn't that enough? Of course, we can't forget about this Friday (May 16th, 8AM-11AM) and the Likemind Orlando coffee meetup at the Lake Eola Panera Bread. This month there will be free coffee and hopefully a few free copies of a book called Murketing - I don't have a lot of details about it, but I know the publishers of the book are sponsoring the coffee and snacks all over the US, so they get serious props.
If I'm missing anything here, please leave a shout-out, and I'll try to include it in the next bulletin. Until next time, have a great May!