Residents come out in force for debut of Sawgrass Grove entertainment

Residents come out in force for debut of Sawgrass Grove entertainment

People dance to Johnny Wild & The Delights during the group’s performance at Sawgrass Grove on Saturday.

The Sawgrass Grove area came alive this past weekend, with hundreds of residents showing up to enjoy the debut of live entertainment on the Box Car Stage.

The newest amenity in the southern region of The Villages brimmed with people dancing, sipping beers at the outdoor Grove Bar, savoring meals and mingling in the many seating areas placed throughout.

“It was great,” said Bonnie Wenger, who saw Johnny Wild and the Delights perform Saturday night and returned for Ssnakeyez on Sunday night. “It was really crowded, but the music is phenomenal.”

Wenger said she and her husband explored The Market at Sawgrass Grove after it opened and had been looking forward to seeing the entertainment outside.

Bob Spracklin said he and his wife often visit Brownwood Paddock Square and are excited to have another entertainment option closer to home.

“I thought (the entertainment) was good,” said Spracklin, of the Village of Collier.

He said they ordered a pizza from Frenchy’s Wood-Fired Pizza inside The Market and took it to an outdoor table in front of the Box Car Stage to fully enjoy the music.

“We’ve been to McGrady’s Pub, too,” Spracklin said. “It’s all delicious. We’ve come for coffee in the morning. There’s really something for everyone here.”

Other residents also appreciate the variety of options available in the area.

“I enjoy being able to come get a pizza or a beer and sit at a table, talk to friends and meet new people,” said Eric Ponters, of the Village of Hawkins. “The seats are very comfortable and the lighting is great.”

Laurie Ventura, of the Village of Hawkins, said she appreciated the additional seating as well.

“I also enjoy an opportunity to mingle more,” she said. “It’s almost like a club atmosphere — you’re more like a part of the entertainment.”

She said the lifestyle center is a perfect place for residents to meet their neighbors, especially southern residents who are new to the area.

Marie Hart, of the Village of Hawkins, said the soft glow of the orange lights under the canopies created a welcoming atmosphere.

“I think it will be nice in the winter and the summer, too,” she said. “It’ll keep the sun or rain off of people. The acoustics work really well with the canopy.”

Hart said she grew up on the East Coast and missed going to beach bars.

“This reminds me of that, but without the sand,” she said. “It’s open and refreshing.”

Rita Facchina, of the Village of Pinellas, said she loved the atmosphere.

“I love the ambience, the seating and tables,” she said. “The market and bar are really nice, too.”

While everyone seems to love the venue, what brought them to the new area was the music.

“It was groovy — far out,” Ponters said.

Hart said the entertainment made a lasting impression.

“I thought for a Sunday, (Ssnakeyez) had a nice, easy vibe,” she said. “I liked the first night of entertainment on Friday with Penta, too. They were great. I really like rock music.”

Hart said she has not seen any of the daytime entertainment at the center yet, but believes it will be a great addition to everything Sawgrass Grove has to offer.

Villagers can continue enjoying the entertainment at Sawgrass Grove from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, from noon to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and from 5 to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Story from the Daily Sun. By Leah Shewmaker, Daily Sun Staff Writer

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