There was a feeling of excitement in the air at Silver Springs State Park March 7th and 8th. A constant flow of chatty visitors arrived to enjoy Springsfest at the park. Whispers of discounted Glass Bottom boat tours with a chance to see Mermaids too circulated the crowd. Happy families hurried to enter the park as the local musicians lured them in with the sound of gaiety on the stage.
There were many areas to explore after entering the park. State Park Volunteers greeted everyone at the Welcome Center, the first stop to get information. A kayak and paddle board drawing enticed the Guests to try their luck as they began their day.
Along the covered walkway other Volunteers directed the Guests to hidden areas of exploration. The Education Center was bustling with children eager to hold a turtle or enjoy other exhibits. A snake was seen wandering throughout the crowd on the arm of a competent handler.
Vendors lined the area coming into the park and along all the walkways. There were many booths supporting the Springs of Florida and the land surrounding them. The Marion county Audubon Society tweeted their information to all that stopped at their table. The Springs Institute was staffed with helpful personnel to guide you through their information. Sparkling handmade items displayed in booths along with fabulous artwork of nature drew a steady stream of shoppers.
Book signing and cartoon sketching were offered by some favorite authors. Inside the ballroom there was a delightful display of student art created to win first prize. A silent auction provided an opportunity for an experience or basket of goodies at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, every festival has a delicious array of food to choose from in various areas. The aroma from the food trucks swirled the air, taunting the Guests to curb their appetites with many options.
There were children's games set up throughout the park with Volunteers offering to assist the little ones. As the children were busy playing games the adults lined up to have their photo taken with the Mermaids.
The highlight of the festival was a ceremony in the ballroom on Saturday honoring five famous captains. Resolutions were read and presented by the State of Florida Governor’s Office and Cabinet and the Marion County Commission recognizing the outstanding service and education provided by the Boat Captains over many decades and miles of travel upon the beautiful Silver River.
All too soon the last musical performance was over. With tummies full of food and hands full of information on the Springs the Guests left the park with smiles and a new perspective of what Silver Springs State Park has to offer.