SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. --The 11th annual Beaches to Woodlands Tour of Santa Rosa County is proud to announce a packed schedule of nearly 40 events this fall, including a corn maze that honors two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, a native of Bagdad, Fla.
This year Sweet Season Farms in Berrydale, Fla., decided to honor Watson, one of three Santa Rosa County and Milton High School natives on the PGA Tour (also Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum), with a maze cut in his image. The design was created from a photograph of Watson that features his distinctive left-handed swing and signature visor.
The popular self-guided Beaches to Woodlands tour spans an area that is known as “Florida’s Playground” because of its plentiful natural resources, which include rivers, trails, creeks, sugar white beaches, a state forest, rich farmlands and historical communities such as Bagdad, which played a vital role in the Florida Panhandle’s development.
“I feel honored to be represented in such a big way in my hometown,” said Watson, who has family still living in the area. “It’s unique and very special.”
Watson approved the design and has donated promotional items to be used as giveaways. In April, after winning his second Masters championship, Watson returned to his hometown where he donated items to the Bagdad Historical Museum, which will be on display during the tour. He also visited several local schools where he made sizable donations.
The Sweet Seasons maze will be open to the public on weekends Sept. 27 – Nov. 2 (except Friday, Oct. 31 for Halloween.) During the week, school groups to include about 4,000 area elementary age children take field trips to learn about farm life and play on the many “farm toys.”
This is the sixth year Sweet Season Farms has sponsored a corn maze and each year owners Sharon and Trent Mathews try to make sure the design has meaning. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels precision flight team was the inaugural 2009 honoree.
“What Bubba achieved by winning the Masters was an historic accomplishment that brought excitement to our household and our entire area,” said Trent Mathews.
A portion of proceeds from this year’s maze will be donated to Bubba Watson’s charitable foundation.
The Beaches to Woodlands Tour is presented by the Santa Rosa Tourist Development Council during the cooler fall “shoulder” season each year.
“Fall is a great time to visit the area because rates at area accommodations are much lower and so are the temperatures and the humidity,” said sixth-year tour coordinator Karen Harrell. “Many of our events are staged outdoors and families like being able to bring their kids out to run and play and get away from their apps and computer games.”
Signature events feature the 25th annual Jay Peanut Festival (Oct. 4-5); 8th Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival (Oct. 3-4); 32nd Annual St. Rose of Lima International Fall Festival (Oct. 10-12); 11th Annual Munson Community Heritage Festival (Oct. 11-12); West Florida Railroad Museum “Depot Days (Oct. 11) and the 14th Annual Navarre Beach Car, Truck & Bike Show (Oct. 18) headline the tour.
Other farm events include the Holland Farm Tours, Pumpkin Patch and Hay Rides (Sept. 27-Nov. 2); Clear Creek Aquaponic Farm Tours (through Oct); the Whispering Pines Haunted Hay Rides and Christmas Tree Tagging (Oct. 11-Nov. 1). The UF/IFAS West Florida Research & Education Center will sponsor the farm-to-table Fall Harvest Dinner (Oct. 24).
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Adventures Unlimited Fall Zipline “Leaf Change Tours” (Sept. 27-Nov. 2) and the Florida Trails Hikes (Oct. 3-4).
Anglers will enjoy the Free Fishing Clinic and Fishing Pole Giveaway at the Navarre Beach Pier (Oct. 11) and Avalon Landing Free Fishing (Sundays in October).
Sea life is the focus of the Sea Turtle Extravaganza (Oct. 11 and 25) and the Science “Spooktacular” by the Sea (Oct. 24-25). The annual Halloween event Boo at the Zoo (Oct. 18-19 and 25-26) returns this year as well.
Art events include Holley Hill Pottery and Art Studio Kiln Openings, staged each Saturday in October, a “Meet the Artist at a Special Place” (Oct. 14) and the Bagdad Plein Air Paint Out (Oct. 26). Area history is highlighted in the Arcadia Mill “Secrets of Santa Rosa: Archaeology and History in Your Backyard” series (Saturdays in October) and events at the Bagdad Village Museum (Saturdays in October).
There are several active events including the Riverwalk Run 5k (Oct. 4); Navarre Chamber Golf Classic (Oct. 10); St. Rose of Lima Fall Festival 5K Run/Walk (Oct. 11); Run for the Reef 5K and 10K (Oct. 18) and the 15th Annual Fenner McConnell/Mark Wantz Blackwater Heritage Century Ride (Oct. 18).
Juana’s Pagodas will be the site of the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest celebration (Oct. 4) and the 21st Annual Chili Cook-off and Volleyball Tournament (Oct. 19).
Shoppers will enjoy the Sand Dollar Saturday & Local Marketplace (Oct. 4) and antiquing at “Ladies Night at Alyssa’s “ (Oct. 25). Readers can find bargain books at the Friends of the Milton Library Sale (Oct. 10-11). Unlimited Horizons offers its October Psychic Fair (Oct. 11).
“We expect to add several more events in the next few weeks, particularly some that traditionally are staged around the Halloween holiday,” Harrell said. “The Beaches to Woodlands Tour is something many people look forward to each year. We are excited to present it once again.”
A full tour schedule and link to area accommodations are available at www.thebeachestowoodlandstour.com.