SunFest '98, which continues through Sunday in West Palm Beach, has been referred to as "Florida's largest music, art, and waterfront festival." It draws top music acts, including Paula Cole and Sister Hazel, who perform tonight. Its juried art show includes works by more than 150 national artists. But what about the waterfront part? The festival takes place along the Intracoastal Waterway, where the view and the breeze are refreshing. But there's also fun to be had on the water. Paddleboat rentals ($7 per half-hour) allow for tooling around the waterway, and on Captain Morgan's Floating Oases -- barges with floating-dock land links -- drinks and snacks are served while musicians perform. A waterfront access gate also allows boaters to drop anchor (Friday through Sunday) and catch the Palm Beach Water Taxi ($2 roundtrip) to the festival site, between the Intracoastal and Flagler Drive from Banyan Boulevard to Lakeview Avenue. Admission is $8 to $12 per day; shows are free. Call 800-786-3378. See "Concerts for the Week" for the entertainment lineup.
Slopping cheap suds into a dirty glass is no way to serve beer -- that is, if you're a connoisseur. Even if you aren't, the New Times Broward*Palm Beach International Beer Festival will have the especially tasty stuff -- both imports and microbrews -- on tap for sampling. Locally crafted brews from Firehouse, Hurricane Reef, and Independence Brewery will be poured alongside those from another Florida-based outfit, the Hops brewpub chain. Straight from Seattle are several ales from Redhook Ale Brewery. Add imports from more than a dozen countries, and there will be 100-plus beers up for grabs. Of course any proper beer-tasting session demands tasty food, of which there will be plenty, and tasty tunes, supplied in this case by blues-rockers Manchild and funksters Hashbrown. Tickets, which cost $15 in advance (at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits locations) and $20 at the door, cover both unlimited beer and food. The event benefits the Daily Bread Food Bank; nonperishable food items can be exchanged for a commemorative cup. Sampling begins 6:30 p.m. at War Memorial Auditorium, 800 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-233-1600.
Skimming the desert floor in Star Wars with Luke Skywalker on board, the hovercraft seemed like pure sci-fi. But today it's a consumer reality that floats on a cushion of air just inches above land or water. Two types of hovercraft will be demonstrated today and Sunday as part of the Shell Air & Sea Show. GPL Enterprises of Delray Beach will show off its Air Commander 1, a two-passenger model powered by a lawn mower engine; and the Navy will launch its 80-foot Landing Craft Air Cushion. Up in the sky, meanwhile, aerobatics pilots will put planes, including the B-2 Stealth Bomber, through their paces. Another demonstration, taking place today, involves quite a few boats, which, on Sunday, will take off for the Worrell 1000 open-ocean catamaran race, ending in Virginia. Water-skiing and hang-gliding demonstrations will also be given. The show takes place on Fort Lauderdale beach between Oakland Park and Las Olas boulevards. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; entertainment tonight, including a concert by Spyro Gyra, begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 954-527-5600, extension 88.
The word "peace" is printed in four spots, but it's really not necessary, because Ya'akov Eisenshcer's watercolor painting captures the idea far more dramatically. Painted in the middle of an envelope, not too far from a Jerusalem postmark, circa 1979, is a dove floating in a dazzling blue sky above the city's densely packed buildings. Dove and sky symbolize the atmosphere in Jerusalem following the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. And like the other 76 works painted on envelopes by Israeli artists in "Artists: Messengers of Peace," Eisenshcer's work commemorates the signing. Running through June 4, the exhibit opens today in conjunction with Israel Fest 50, taking place from noon to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Carole Siemens Jewish Campus (9801 Donna Klein Blvd., Boca Raton). The celebration of the founding of Israel features carnival rides, Yiddish performers, and kosher cuisine. Israeli pop singer Noa will headline a concert at 7:30 p.m. in Florida Atlantic University Auditorium, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Ticket prices for the concert range from $18 to $25; festival admission is free. Call 561-852-3378.
Cinco de Mayo -- the Mexican holiday celebrating the defeat of invading French forces in 1862 -- doesn't happen till May 5. Today's Sinko de Mayor event has nothing to do with Mexico, but the cause is such a good one, we can forgive the silly pun. The event will give participants the chance to do what his political adversaries have probably dreamed of for years: soak Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle's head -- as well as the rest of his body -- in a dunk tank. The money raised at the event goes to the John McGeary, Jr. Trust Fund. McGeary, the twelve-year-old son of long-time City of Fort Lauderdale employee John McGeary, was born with immune disorders that have required him to receive round-the-clock medical care since birth. A million-dollar health insurance policy was quickly exhausted, so the trust fund was set up to help out. For $1 a throw (or six for $5), participants are given the chance to douse the mayor and radio DJ Paul Castronovo. Local pop-rock band Neighborhood Threat will perform, and host restaurants will offer food and drink specials. The dunking begins at 5 p.m. today at Shooters and Bootlegger, establishments located side by side at 3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Call 954-586-0990.
Rapper-actor L.L. Cool J has managed to maintain his street credentials while cultivating a family-friendly image -- at least for most of his career. He dropped out of high school at age sixteen when his first single, "I Need a Beat," sold 100,000 copies. That was way back in 1984. By 1985 his first album, Radio, was receiving widespread critical praise. But fans who heard his 1989 album, Walking With a Panther, felt L.L. had sold out; he was booed at the Apollo Theater and later admitted he was out of touch with the rap scene at the time. He came back with 1990's Grammy-winning Mama Said Knock You Out. Despite the album's title, he says that he's against violence, and he portrays an upstanding ex-jock on TV's In the House. L.L.'s latest rap release is the Top 10 Phenomenon, and he performs at the Sunrise Musical Theatre (5555 NW 95th Ave., Sunrise) tonight at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $22.50 to $34.50. Call 954-741-7300.
After seeing an opera by the Moscow Theater for Children, Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (18911953) was asked to pen an original piece for the company. He decided to write something that would not only appeal to kids but also teach them about the orchestra. So in his narrated musical play Peter and the Wolf, featuring Peter and his woodland friends outwitting a wolf, each character is represented by a specific instrument. Prokofiev had no way of knowing, of course, that animated movies, TV specials, and video games would eventually co-opt Peter. In its "Concerts for Kids" series, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra recreates the piece in its original format: a concert at which kids experience a live orchestra. The concert takes place today at 10:15 and 11:40 a.m. at the Florida Atlantic University Auditorium, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Tickets cost $5. Call 954-930-2997.