Written by Jeff Hugo, Wakulla Springs State Park Sunday, 18 March 2012 12:13
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Wakulla Springs State Park will host the Wakulla Wildlife Festival on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Participants in the Wakulla Wildlife Festival will be immersed in the rich heritage and diverse ecosystems that envelop them in the Wakulla Springs Watershed. Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park will be the hub of activities designed to educate, inspire and empower people by connecting them with their environment and heritage. The Wakulla Wildlife Festival caters to the diversity of its participants by offering fine art, living history demonstrations, exceptional music, activities for children and families, and environmental experiences both rare and compelling.
All will enjoy viewing the wildlife and heritage of the region through the eyes of gifted artists during the Art Opening on Friday evening and the continuing Wildlife Art Show on Saturday. There will be fine pottery that create the essence of past cultures and mimic the natural designs of our environment. Photography, paintings and drawings hold in suspended animation the magical moments of the region as artists have seen, held captive and shared.
During the Art Opening on Friday evening, April 20, the beguiling jazz of Sammy Tedder will fill the Lodge with the musical expression of the festival’s mission. His contemplative Native American flute or soulful sax often mixes with the eclectic voices of the night wilderness. It is a haunting reminder of the quality of life enjoyed in a region touted as “The Natural Place to Be.” Visit www.SammyTedder.com to sample his work.
The silent auction is a favorite way to support the Wakulla Wildlife Festival. It is also a great way to view samples of the artist’s work and acquire fine art at a consumer determined value. Bidding begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:10 p.m. Winners are welcome to claim their prizes at the end of bidding.
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar offering wine and beer punctuate an evening enhanced with fine food designed to tempt the palette. Guests can experience fine dining in the Ball Room Restaurant as they titillate their taste buds with fine Southern cuisine. Reservations for a special evening out can be made by calling (850) 421-2000.
Premium Guided Tours (additional fees apply) offer nature lovers an opportunity to hone their wildlife-watching skills and senses. Visitors might seek the unexpected on a night cruise down the Wakulla River as the ruby-red eyes of alligators glow in the reflected light of a flashlight. Others may prefer to quietly celebrate a serene sunrise with morning light dancing through the silvery strands of Spanish moss dangling from ancient cypress limbs.
Still others would choose to be escorted to the seldom seen windows into a submerged underground cave system. The colorful wings of butterflies flitting among the park’s spring blooms are testimony of the allure these remarkable ambassadors of the insect kingdom have for many guests. Others are vivified as they join a group of photographers to utilize that new camera for capturing moments of outdoor splendor.
Children squeal with delight as they play a game, create a craft or get their faces painted under the Children’s Activities tent. The children’s activities are part of the many exhibitors who introduce visitors to magnificent wildlife, area nature centers and museums, and recreational opportunities.
Living history demonstrators will present a proud heritage of ingenuity and hard work. There will be the brutal power of the blacksmith as he bends iron to his whim and the gentle grace of the spinner as she creates thread from various fibers. Basket makers, cow hunters and soldiers from past Florida conflicts will offer a glimpse into past lives. All the while, bluegrass music will quicken the pulse and set toes to tapping.
Excited festival guests return year after year to enjoy the phenomenal Bird of Prey and Reptile shows presented by the Center for Wildlife Education, Georgia Southern University. Guests are mesmerized as they discover the mysterious yet vital role snakes and lizards play in our world. Eagles, hawks and owls swoop overhead while their handlers present predator/prey relations and raptors as indicators of environmental health. The shows are interactive with considerable audience participation.
It is easy to become part of the celebration. Simply visit www.WakullaWildlifeFestival.org for a complete listing of activities on April 20-21, 2012. Please register on-line early for the premium tours as they often fill up fast. Make the Wakulla Wildlife Festival a time to get outdoors and make memories with family and friends!
Out of town guests can discover true Southern hospitality during a stay at the Wakulla Springs Lodge (www.wakullaspringslodge.com), the Inn at Wildwood (www.InnatWildwood.com ), or the Best Western Wakulla Inn and Suites (http://www.bestwestern.com/wakullainn). Visitors can also enjoy the taste of locally fresh caught seafood at many area restaurants.
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