Sumter County officials approve $120,000 to pay for entertainment at squares

Sumter County commissioners on Tuesday approved tourism grants for the 2019-2020 fiscal year that include money for town square entertainment, the annual country western hoedown sponsored by The Villages Homeowners Advocates and the Battle of the Villages basketball event.

The money comes from the county’s Tourism Development Tax and the grants were recommended by the Sumter County Tourism Council.

Commissioners approved $120,000 for nightly entertainment at the Lake Sumter and Brownwood town squares. Spanish Springs Town Square is in Lake County.

This represents a $40,000 increase over the $80,000 given to The Villages last year to help pay for entertainment at the squares.

The Buffalo Scholarship Fund at The Villages Charter School will receive $60,000 for its annual Battle of The Villages, a high school basketball tournament in December.

Al Morse dances with the crowd at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square.

The Villages Homeowners Advocates will receive $50,000 for its hoedown. This year’s hoedown, held in February, featured gunslinger demonstrations and a performance by country artist Crystal Gage.

A $10,000 grant will be given to the Dade Battlefield Society for its battlefield re-enactment and trade fair event. A re-enactment from the Second Seminole War will be held in early January at the Dade Battlefield Historic Park near Bushnell.

Commissioners approved a $75,000 grant for the Blackjack Sporting Clays for the Florida Sporting Clays Association state championship event, a shooting competition, scheduled next April at Sumterville. Another $50,000 grant also was awarded to the group for its Blackjack Open event.

The Southern Draft Horse Association will receive $50,000 for its horse-pulling contest, a February event that features 45 teams at The Villages polo fields.

A $1,000 grant was approved for the Hearts for Our Hospital Bicycle Challenge sponsored by The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary. The event is a race, cycling expo and health fair slated for November.

Two grants were awarded to The Villages High School for football events, including $20,000 for the 65th annual Florida Athletic Coach Association’s All-Star Classic and $15,000 for the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship.

Commissioners also awarded themselves a $20,000 grant for the county’s tourism web site and mobile grant application project.