American Independence Day – aka July 4th – celebrates the day in 1776 when we broke away from Great Britain and the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. This year, July 4 is Monday, making for a handy three-day weekend. Traditions vary, but many of us celebrate with cookouts and burgers or tamales or corn on the cob and ice cream or just maybe strawberry shortcake.
Each week, writer John Graham dives deep and finds five of the week’s best bets for food and fun in Central Florida. Because this week includes July 4, John added a few extra Independence Day events around Orlando and Central Florida. Get out there and enjoy!
Pie Hard, Chili Chowdown
You wouldn’t call beer and pie a classic combo, but it’s not a bad way to head into the long weekend. Saturday, Beer bar Redlight Redlight is teaming with P is for Pie for Redlight’s sixth annual pie-eating contest. This year, it’s triple berry. Cram down your six-inch pie fastest and you win both a trophy and a round of beers. You can sign up in advance or “day-of” if they don’t sell out. (It’s $12.) Saturday registration starts at 3 p.m. Competition goes down at 3:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome. As it’s emblazoned on the trophy – “Live Free or Pie Hard.” P is for Pie and Redlight Redlight are both listed in the Edible Orlando Artisan Guide, local folks crafting delicious food and drinks from scratch in small batches with quality ingredients.
Also on Saturday, The Veranda is hosting the (they hope) first annual Thornton Park chili cook-off. Doors open at 11 a.m. and neighborhood restaurants cooking in the courtyard include Graffiti Junktion, The 808, F&D Cantina, Island Time, Cavo’s Bar & Kitchen, and Anthony’s Thornton Park. Mason Jar Provisions dropped out after announcing they’re moving, but The Veranda tells us that the new mystery tenant will also be joining the cook-off. Tickets in advance are $20. If you wait until you get to The Veranda, it’ll be $30. Three winners will be announced at 4 p.m.: fan favorite, celebrity judges’ pick, and best name.
Fourth of July 5K, Free Pancakes
The first of our July 4 events starts early. Ice cold watermelon is back at the finish of Monday’s AdventHealth July 4th Watermelon 5k. (Because of COVID protocols, it was watermelon flavored Italian ice and sports drinks last year.) You can register online for $38 until July 2. Race day, it’s $43. The run starts at 7:30 a.m. at Winter Park’s Central Park. Military personnel and dependents get $10 off and a special race bib.
BYOCC means “Bring your own chocolate chips.” Monday, Windermere is whipping up its fourth annual free 4th of July pancake breakfast, 9-11 a.m, at Town Hall. That means Windermere provides the pancakes, butter and syrup (and juice, coffee and milk while supplies last), but if you want berries or chips or whatever, you gotta bring it yourself. It’s free, and Tim’s Wine Market Windermere will be selling mimosas.
Burger Bash, Cheez-It Party, Mocktail Class
BurgerFi at Sunset Walk in Kissimmee is looking for big eaters (well, fast eaters) for two hamburger eating contests on Monday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sponsored by Heinz, each competition is limited to a dozen people over 18 and you can only register on site starting at 3 p.m. The two winners get a trophy, a $150 BurgerFi gift card, a t-shirt, and the envy of your friends and family.
Outside Monday night’s Orlando City soccer match at Exploria Stadium, Cheez-It is making a stop on its Puff’d-A-Palooza road tour. Promoting a new “Puff’d” version of the snack cracker, the tour offers free samples and interactive activities including an air guitar experience with 360-degreee camera, a 30-foot inflatable obstacle course, and a 13-foot soccer goal with lighter-than-air “Puff’d” balls.
Monday is also the last day for Orlando Brewing at its current location in Sodo. After 18 years on Atlanta Ave, Orlando Health bought the property. The organic brewery, and Orlando’s first craft brewery, is moving to International Drive in the Fall. A lot of the décor is already down and they’re planning more of a quiet night than a blowout, but maybe stop by and help drain the remaining kegs. They’re lighter when they’re empty.
Didja know you drink a shrub? Not just a small tree, “shrub” is also a sour and fruity non-alcoholic cocktail. Friday night, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., you can take a class on herbal mocktails at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. Drinks available to taste include a blackberry thyme oxymel made with fermented honey, a molasses switchel from the Caribbean and a prickly pear ginger beer mockarita. The class is $30 and you can BYOB if you just gotta spike that shrub.
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