The wait is over — the Box Car Stage at Sawgrass Grove will see its first live band tonight. Penta, known for playing 1970s and ’80s hits around The Villages, will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. today. Villagers are thrilled to have another venue for outdoor entertainment, especially for those who live in the southern region. “The Villages does such a good job with entertainment,” said Marie Grimm, of the Village of Hawkins. “I’m so excited for the stage to open. I often go to Brownwood Paddock Square and the other squares, but I’m excited to meet neighbors at Sawgrass Grove.” Other Villagers shared her excitement for entertainment closer to home. “I think this will be nice,” said Terry Voltz, of the Village of Bradford. “My wife and I had to travel all the way to Brownwood to listen to music. This is more convenient. It’s only 10 minutes in our golf cart.”
Over the past several months, Villagers saw the opening of Ezell Recreation, McGrady’s Pub, The Market at Sawgrass Grove and now the Grove Bar and Box Car Stage.
“We could not be more excited to put the finishing touches on Sawgrass Grove so residents can enjoy the entire center as designed,” said Ryan McCabe, executive vice president of operations in The Villages. “We chose to open the individual parts as they became available to allow Villagers to utilize them as soon as possible, and now folks will get to experience the true vision for the center.”
Terry Voltz and his wife, Karen, said they looked forward to the center opening since they found out about it.
“It’s lovely,” Karen said. “The seating is nice as well. The Villages always seems to do things well.”
The couple said they were excited to see Sawgrass Grove nearly completed when they came back from Wisconsin, where they spend summers.
“Sawgrass Grove is such a unique experience and offers a lot of new features for the first time,” said Brian Russo, executive director of entertainment in The Villages. “We’re thrilled for this new opportunity to provide more of the lifestyle our residents love. We’re bringing in several new acts and styles that we think people will really enjoy.”
McCabe said the idea was to offer Villagers something new and exciting.
“We imagined a place where you could play pickleball or golf in the morning, meet up for lunch and some music before grabbing some groceries as you head home,” he said. “Sawgrass Grove brings together in one place many of the things Villagers love about living here, including recreation, golf, shopping, dining and live entertainment.”
The center will have a different schedule than the town squares around The Villages and will vary according to the season.
“We wanted to give Sawgrass Grove its own personality when it comes to entertainment,” McCabe said.
Villagers can enjoy live entertainment on the Box Car Stage from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 5 to 8 p.m. Sundays.
The center also may host special and themed events, including sports viewing opportunities for big games and tournaments, according to McCabe.
He said Villagers should keep their eye on The Villages Daily Sun and The Villages Entertainment page at thevillagesentertainment.com for updates and special events, as well as information for the official grand opening of Sawgrass Grove.
McCabe said live entertainment will continue at McGrady’s Pub from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday on the porch overlooking Southern Oaks.
While The Market no longer will offer live entertainment inside, entertainment from the Box Car Stage will be piped in throughout the building.
McCabe said the Grove Bar, the outdoor bar, is a new concept to The Villages where guests can walk up to grab a drink on one side of the bar, or sit and relax on the other side to watch a game or enjoy the live entertainment.
The bar will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 3 to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Happy hour at McGrady’s Pub, The Market Bar, and Grove Bar will be daily from 3 to 5 p.m.
Staff writer Leah Shewmaker can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5228, or email@example.com.
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