Fall Camping in Florida's State Parks

By: Florida Department of Environmental Protection Release
By: Florida Department of Environmental Protection Release

For additional information about events at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State park call toll free 1-877-635-3655 or visit www.FloridaStateParks.org/StephenFoster

September 22, 2011 -

While you’re enjoying a Florida State Park camping experience, take time to enjoy the many fall events at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.

Florida Frontier Day - October 1, 2011 from 10:00am till 4:00pm.

Grab your straw hat and put on your overalls-take a step back in time to the old frontier days of Florida. Visit with demonstrator and reenactors as they show the “old Florida” way of life.

Learn the art of twine making, spinning and weaving from the Lake City and Columbia County Historical Museum. Listen to the laughter and feel the joy as children test their skills playing traditional frontier games. Visit with a Civil War sutler while shopping for historical southern family clothing. Carry on the tradition of making hand pieced quilts as Donna Stake teaches hand piecing. Take home your very own “Frontier Rag Doll” that you make under the tutelage of Cherie Willis.

As you meander through the craft village under the mossy covered oaks visit with the demonstrators performing “old Florida” traditions such as chair caning, pine needle baskets, leather crafts, basket weaving, pottery and more. Meet Doc Gibson the “Fighting Parson” as he displays his antique gun collection and discusses their history and listen as multi-talented Bill Roberson entertains with his banjo and guitar while you view his original “cracker art”.

While at the blacksmith shop watch as our blacksmiths forge objects from wrought iron and steel. Meet Pat and Rick Blaney and their Galecino Horses and learn how these horses were the predecessors to the official Florida horse, the “Cracker Horse”. Smell the wood smoke and sizzlin’ bacon as Marie Brown cooks over an open fire. Pull up a seat and watch as she makes corn husk rugs and dolls.

Come relax and sit a spell under the tent and watch as Ray Cotton whittles his story stick while regaling the audience with his folk stories and Kim Waters recounts her version of the “Jack” stories. Listen as Butch Harrison, a Florida Cracker storyteller will educate and entertain you with colorful stories authentically depicting Florida’s earliest pioneers, and how they lived, survived and settled in Florida’s harsh environment.

Visit Cousin Thelma Boltin’s Gift Shop for that one of a kind handmade item, choose from our selection of books on Florida and its people or just come in, relax, enjoy an ice cream, old fashioned candy or an ice cold refreshment. This event is free with paid park admission of $5.00 per vehicle, up to 8 people.

Jeanie and Stephen Auditions – October 7 and 8, 2011. In honor of Stephen Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” male and female music students compete for scholarships and the title of outstanding vocalist in Florida. Male students compete for the title of Stephen and female students compete for the title of Jeanie. Don’t miss the introduction of contestants and performances by the current reigning Jeanie and Stephen on Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. Saturday’s auditions begin at 10 a.m. This event is free with paid park admission of $5.00 per vehicle, up to 8 people.

Mountain Biking and Hiking Trail Grand Opening - Saturday October 8, 2011

A ribbon cutting and speakers will highlight the grand opening of a new 8-mile single track mountain biking and hiking trail at Stephen Foster. The trail will be open for use for the first time at the event. Foster’s Hammock Loop Trail was designed and constructed by members of the Suwannee Bicycle Association, a local not for profit bicycle organization, who will provide ride guides and special trips during the grand opening. Catfish Hole, the Suwannee River Overlook, “Beavor Crossing” and other unique areas along the trail will provide visitors with an exclusive adventure throughout the Upper Suwannee River Valley’s diverse topography.

Bring your mountain bike or hiking boots to be one of the first to experience the beautiful new trail. Ribbon Cutting begins at 10 a.m., trail opens shortly thereafter.

23rd Annual Stephen Foster Quilt Show and Sale - October 21 - 23, 2011. More than 200 quilts and a special exhibit of Heritage Quilts will be on display during this three-day show.

This year’s theme is “Fostering a Legacy of Quilting.” An exhibit of quilts over 25 years old will be displayed in the Stephen Foster Carillon Tower. Demonstrations will be held throughout the Show. To foster the legacy, children will have a special section on display in the Museum and will be invited to a special tea for their efforts.

Quilts will be displayed throughout the park, in the Stephen Foster Museum, the Stephen Foster Memorial Carillon Tower and the park’s auditorium. Quilts will be judged by Nancy Mahoney, a renowned fabric designer and author, whose quilts have been featured in national and international magazines. Also available at the show are boutiques, quilting supply vendors and food.

The 23rd Annual Stephen Foster Quilt Show and Sale is sponsored by the park’s Citizen Support Organization and Lady of the Lake Quilting Guild. Buses are welcome. Admission to the Quilt Show is $4.00 per person.

Big Shoals State Park Pumpkin Fest - Saturday, October 22, 2011

This one-day annual event invites participants to enter two different contests the whole family can enjoy. The first contest is a children’s pumpkin decorating contest. Bring a pumpkin and get ready for lots of decorating fun. The second competition is a costume contest open for both kids and adults. This contest will have three categories in which contestants will be judged - funniest, prettiest and most original.

Admission is $2 per person or $4 per carload and includes entry into all contests, drinks and snacks, live music, hayride through the woods, twilight camp fire with marshmallow roasting and a park ranger lead hike with hundreds of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. Everyone is invited to stay after Pumpkin Fest to watch the Mexican Free Tailed Bats fly.

Rural Folklife Days - November 3 through 5. More than 16 demonstrators will be on hand showcasing Florida traditions of yesterday and today during this three-day show.

Rural Folklife Days celebrates the region’s rural past with demonstrations and hands-on learning activities. Visitors can taste jellies, play traditional games, churn butter, sing songs, hear storytelling, quilt on a frame, taste sugar cane, assist a blacksmith, learn about lye soap and watch demonstrations of old-fashioned cane grinding.

This event is a long-standing tradition at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. For decades, students have enjoyed field trips to the park to experience this event. This year, the event has been expanded to include Saturday, November 5, to give greater access to families and homeschoolers who may not be able to attend the event during weekdays. Everyone is welcome to visit on any of the three days during the event.

Admission is $5 per person.

Stephen Foster Dulcimer Retreat - November 11 and 12, 2011. This event invites participants to a weekend of fun and fellowship along with workshops, jam sessions and evening concerts.

The Stephen Foster State Park Dulcimer Retreat will be hosted by dulcimer master David Beede. The retreat will offer in-depth instruction and techniques on the mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer and autoharp musical instruments. Traditional music is celebrated with workshops offered for beginning, intermediate and advanced students, taught by nationally recognized instructors including David Beede, Jon Kay, Aaron O’Rourke, Stephen Humphries, Madeline McNeil, Gailanne Amundsen, Roger Amundsen, and Susan Boyer Haley.

Concerts featuring masterful instructors from the workshops are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings in the park auditorium at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for public admission are $10.00. Admission to the two day event is $85.00, which includes all workshops, jam sessions, concerts and discussion groups.

Festival of Lights, December 2 – 31, 2011 each evening until 9:00 p.m., closed Christmas Night, December 25. Displaying more than four million lights throughout the park,

Named a Top 20 Event in the southeastern United States by the Southeast Tourism Society, visitors can enjoy the award-winning holiday sights and sounds as they drive through the park. There are unique holiday light displays, including the majestic oak trees adorned with thousands of lights, an antebellum Museum dressed in full holiday splendor, and a gingerbread village located at the Gift Shop and Craft Square. The centerpiece of the park’s light display is the Carillon Tower, which illuminates the night sky standing more than 200 feet tall, dressed from head to toe in lights as holiday music rings from its bells. The Stephen Foster Museum will be open extended hours to 8:30 p.m. nightly. Cousin Thelma Boltin’s Gift Shop will be open everyday from 12p.m. until 9:00 p.m. where complimentary refreshments are served and the Craft Square comes alive with a bonfire and marshmallow roast for everyone. Vendors will also feature delicious treats including favorites such as hot chili, hand made potato chips and world famous fried Oreos!

Live holiday music will be performed at the Stephen Foster Museum nightly from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. If any school groups, choirs or other musical groups would like to perform, they should contact Diane Simmons at 386-397-2733 for more information.

Santa will be visiting the park every evening through December 24th and will be making appearances throughout the entire park during the festival.

Visitors can experience the festival via horse drawn wagon and carriage rides. Two large beautiful Percheron Horses will be pulling a large wagon on a 1 mile ride around the main park drive each evening. Take a leisurely 20 minute ride through the park and sing carols while viewing the millions of lights on display!

To celebrate the park’s award-winning light display, a special kickoff event hosted in conjunction with the Town of White Springs will take place on Friday, evening December 2, 2011. The Town of White Springs’ Christmas Parade travels down Main Street and continues through the gates of the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Everyone attending is invited to a free hot dog supper with cookies in the park’s Nelly Bly’s Kitchen. Regular park admission fees are waived for this Grand Opening kickoff event, but a donation of at least one new, unwrapped toy is requested per vehicle.

On Saturday, December 10, 2011 a children’s ornament-making workshop will be held from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Nature and Heritage Tourism Center. A special one-day-only sale, door prizes and holiday treats will also be available at the park’s Craft Square and Gift Shop.

Park Entrance Fees for this event will be $2.00 per person. The Festival of Lights is sponsored by the Stephen Foster Citizens Support Organization, the Town of White Springs and its special events committee, and made possible by the generous support of numerous local individuals and businesses in the Suwannee Valley Region and has been recognized as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society.

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