Well, it’s August. And to that we say, Oh God, why? Why?
Exactly what were we thinking? It’s 1,700 degrees outside with 300 percent humidity and we’re cowering in the pantry to avoid being struck by lighting.
Our wiser friends and cohorts deserted us months ago, leaving us to stew in a swamp that features ample parking but is absent of culture. Virtually all of the theaters, concert venues and art galleries have hung up shingles that say, Gone fishin’ … up north. But while it does feel as though our more popular extracurricular activities have dried up, there are still things to do that count as culture … and/or fun … and/or, well, just things to do. In fact, this is a probably a perfect time to sample some of the lesser-known activities available to us in Southwest Florida.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “But I don’t want to join the Island Knitters who meet every Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. at the Frank E. Mackle Community Park on Marco Island.” To that we say, “Why the heck not?” All knitters are welcome—from expert to novice—and it’s totally free. Once you’re hooked (see what we did there?), you’ll forget all about Artis—Naples being closed. Plus, you’ll have a nice scarf. Eventually. 239–652-0575
Of course, some people have a fear of needles, and for those people, there’s the Bonita Shell Club, which meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bonita Beach and Tennis Club Community Room in Bonita Springs. My grandmother, Pauline, used to have a toilet seat made of clear acrylic that was filled with the most beautiful sea shells you’ve ever seen. And every time I’d walk into the guest bathroom I’d think, “This feels like a mixed message.” Regardless, if you feel the need to turn shells into works of art, such as giraffes or French courtesans, this is your club. They make masterpieces out of crustacean coffins, and that’s a win-win if you stop to think about it. facebook.com/bonitaspringsshellclub
And if sea shells aren’t your thing, the Fort Myers Miracle baseball team is playing at Hammond Stadium throughout the month of August. The team wraps up its season with a stretch of home games Labor Day weekend. It’s just like spring training, only hotter. milb.com
But you know what’s hotter than a ballpark full of men with bats? Comedy. (Hey, segues are hard.) And Off The Hook Comedy Club in Naples has plenty of laughs to go around—even though it’s off-season. Theo Von (host of Yahoo’s Primetime in No Time), appears Aug. 5-7 (and not in an annoying pop-up for once); Gary Valentine, who starred with Kevin James on The King of Queens, performs Aug. 11-14; meanwhile, Steve Trevino (Relatable) brings the laughs Aug. 18-21; while Adam Hunter (The Tonight Show) takes care of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-4. offthehookcomedy.com
Another strong option is to head back to Fort Myers to see the Wizard. Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers continues its run of The Wizard of Oz now through Aug. 13. Dorothy and the Tin Man and Toto and all the rest remind us of just what a witch some people can be. But on a full stomach, most things can be forgiven. broadwaypalm.com
Not enough? Well, when life hands you lemons, you’re probably already attending the Citrus Expo taking place Aug. 17 and 18 at the Lee Civic Center. It’s the premiere seminar and trade show for citrus growers and industry professionals. There’ll be various vendors offering help on how to grow oranges the size of grapefruits and grapefruits the size of unbelievably large grapefruits. If you already have a lemon tree, you might just as well skip this one. citrusexpo.net
And chances are good that by the end of September you’ll be hankerin’ for some quality country music (actually probably any music). And The Ranch Concert Hall & Saloon in Fort Myers has country star John Michael Montgomery performing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. Montgomery has had seven No. 1 hits on the Billboard country charts, so you know it’ll be a memorable night. theranchfortmyers.com
In fact, just to let you know, there are still a few terrific old standbys that continue in the off-season. We’re talking about such family-friendly choices as Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers, which takes place from 6-10 p.m. on the first Fridays of the month (Aug. 5, Sept. 9 due to Labor Day) in the River District. With more than a dozen galleries located within a four-block stretch, art lovers can wander from Broadway to First to Hendry and Jackson streets and enjoy artist receptions, demonstrations and exhibits featuring a wide mix of media.
Also in the River District of Fort Myers, on the third Friday of each month (Aug. 19, Sept. 23) from 6-10 p.m., is Music Walk. From blues to jazz to rock and everything in between, you can sample to your heart’s content at numerous restaurants, bars and galleries. If you haven’t visited downtown Fort Myers in a while, either of these events gives you a chance to see what all the excitement is about. fortmyersriverdistrictalliance.com
And just down McGregor Boulevard from the River District at the Alliance for the Arts, Theatre Conspiracy performs The Book of Liz, Aug. 12-27. It’s a “cheesy” comedy written by Amy and David Sedaris about a nun who makes cheese balls for her religious order before setting out on her own and getting a job at a family restaurant run entirely by recovering alcoholics. Chances are we’ll all find meaning on-stage. And the Alliance for the Arts’ September art exhibit, Carl E. Schwartz, opens on Sept. 9 featuring the works of painter and print maker Carl Schwartz. theatreconspiracy.org, artinlee.org
Taking things a wee bit farther west, the third Friday of the month is Cape Coral Night on the Parkway on Cape Coral Parkway between Cape Coral Street and Vincennes Boulevard in Cape Coral (in case you couldn’t figure that out). It’s a family-friendly event that features a diverse collection of local entertainment spread across the sidewalks surrounding Big John’s Plaza. Everything from music to dance to art is there for your enjoyment from 6-9 p.m. And, again, it’s in Cape Coral.
If you prefer your entertainment a bit more psychedelic, Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO comes to Germain Arena from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. Imagine Teletubbies with an ant farm and you have OVO. It’s described as a “headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement.” Just think, human-size bugs bouncing around with flashing lights and blaring music. That sounds like Florida, all right. germainarena.com
If by September you’ve recreated the barricade scene from Les Miserables entirely out of seashells and placed it on a doily you knitted yourself, you may want to stop by The Baker Museum in Naples, which reopens Tuesday, Sept. 6. We say that because the museum is widely regarded as Southwest Florida’s premier fine arts museum and is known for displaying spectacular works. And they’ll definitely want to hear about you. artisnaples.org/baker-museum