Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Fla. hosts an Old-Time Music Festival this weekend and special events throughout the year. The Stephen Foster Old-Time Music Weekend offers in-depth instruction in old-time music techniques on the banjo, guitar and fiddle for all levels. Instructors include John Grimm, Beverly Smith, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, Chuck Levy, Aisha Ivey and Tommy Bledsoe. The event runs through Sunday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m. Admission to a 7 p.m. concert Saturday in the auditorium costs $10 at the door. Located in North Florida at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, the park is enjoyable and historic regardless of whether one attends a special event or not. And the special events are many. Coming up is National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 and on Oct. 10 is Art in the Park. In December, there is an award-winning Festival of Lights and in May is the famous Florida Folk Festival. A visit to the park should include a stop in the plantation home which serves as a museum, as well as the carillon tower and display center. Nellie Bly’s kitchen serves as a catering and event site. There is also a craft square where artists demonstrate their talents and offer classes, as well as a playground and picnic area. The Florida National Scenic (hiking) Trail and the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail for kayaking and canoeing are accessible in the park. Cabins, recreational vehicle and tent camping are available. In the museum one can view 10 intricate dioramas handmade by Dartmouth students that illustrate Stephen Foster songs, composed between 1848 (Oh Susanna) and 1854 (Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair). Depth, perspective and materials were carefully considered. Also in the museum are several special pianos including a Steinway with a rare Von Janko keyboard, and two large Howard Chandler Christy paintings, Beautiful Dreamer and Many Happy Days I Squandered. The latter name came from the second verse of “Old Folks at Home.” (See my slide show of the museum and carillon tower and center to learn more). A small theater with four different short videos is in the museum, but there was no docent there to start them on the Friday I visited, so sadly I could not view them. See my article links below about many additional things to do and see in the Suwannee River Valley area of Florida. And "subscribe" if you like my articles and photos. An informative article about the Stephen Foster park by a camper with lots of photos is at http://myquantumdiscovery.com/blog/happenings/in-and-around-stephen-foster-state-park/ so I won’t repeat a lot of what you can learn there. Located at 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive/ US HWY 41 North, White Springs, FL 32096, an entrance fee is required. For more information, call 386-397-7009, or visit www.floridastateparks.org or http://suwanneevalley.org/