Here's a sampling of events taking place in the state next month; call to confirm times and prices of admission.
Black Bear fest
No lions, no tigers, but bears, oh my! Take part in the 6th annual Black Bear Festival, Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Umatilla, off State Road 44 north of Orlando.
During the free event, the emphasis is on learning about the Florida natives _ and maybe even glimpsing one in the wild. The U.S. Forest Service will conduct three-hour field trips by bus into Ocala National Forest's bear habitat. Participants will learn about the animals' biology and how the government protects them and manages their environment.
For folks interested in noncarnivores, there will be talks on butterfly gardening with plants that are native to Florida and on the prehistoric people who roamed what is now the national forest.
For more information, call (407) 323-1298 or go to www.flblackbearfestival.org.
Three centuries of the history of life in the Florida Keys is the focus of a festival Oct. 2 and 3 at Indian Key State Historic Site, a 12-acre island.
Visitors will be taken by boat to the island, less than a mile off the coast at Islamorada, and walk to the village square. There they will see the false storefronts of Indian Key's general store and post office _ where mail can be stamped with special postmarks _ as well as remnants of the original settlement.
Docents will relate tales of hurricanes, the sinking in 1733 of the treasure-laden Spanish galleon San Pedro, the island's wreckers _ some of whom may have lured boats onto the reefs in order to salvage their cargoes _ the hard life in an early 20th century fishing camp, and the building of the Overseas Highway to Key West.
Boats are to leave for Indian Key from Robbie's Marina, at mile marker 77.5 on the bayside, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-12.
For more information, call Susi Baldwin at (305) 664-4087. To find out about accommodations, call the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, toll-free 1-800-322-5397 or (305) 664-4503, or go to www.fla-keys.com.
Ding Darling Days
Resilient despite Hurricane Charley, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel will host Ding Darling Days, Oct. 10-16. The celebration includes live animal presentations, a one-woman play about Everglades champion Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, a nature photo contest and workshops, ecotours through the 6,000-acre reserve and talks by wildlife authors.
Despite damage to buildings and vegetation from the August hurricane, the acclaimed refuge has been restored; it reopened Sept. 16. Area resorts are offering specially discounted packages for the event.
For more information, call (239) 472-1100, ext. 221, or go to www.dingdarlingdays.com.
The 38th annual Rattlesnake Festival in San Antonio will take place Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Oct. 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The population of the Pasco County town soars from about 900 to nearly 20,000 _ all of them in City Park.
The event includes wildlife exhibits, pony rides, a 5-mile run, food and reptile shows.
For more information, call (352) 588-4444 or go to www.rattlesnakefestival.com.
Can it be Biketoberfest time again? Yes, the event takes place at sites around Daytona Beach Oct. 21-24.
Created 12 years ago by the convention and visitors bureau to bring more tourists during the annual fall motorcycle races at Daytona International Speedway, this event is decidedly more family-oriented than the Bike Week of the early spring. Still, Biketoberfest features rallies that showcase vintage and custom bikes, races, concerts, charity rides and seminars.
For more information on activities or accommodations, contact the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau toll-free at 1-866-296-8970, (386) 255-0415, ext. 117, or go to www.biketoberfest.org.
Science on display
Look to the skies Oct. 27 to see the last lunar eclipse visible in the Tampa Bay area for 18 months. If you don't want to feel silly standing outside looking up, head to the Museum of Science and Industry in North Tampa for Watch Family Fun Night. It runs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Included in the admission are entrance to MOSI, a film in the IMAX Dome Theatre, a sky show in the Saunders Planetarium, dinner in the Galaxy Cafe and a SkyWatch on top of the IMAX Dome Theatre.
Entrance for MOSI IMAX members is $9, for other MOSI members $12, and for nonmembers $16.
MOSI is at 4801 E Fowler Ave.; call (813) 987-6300 or go to www.mosi.org.