Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, FL

How's that for a catchy park name? Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

I had been to this park a year or two ago to paddle on the Suwannee River, but only as a daytrip, not as a camper. This is less than an hour from my home, and the campground gets rave reviews from campers, so I decided to try it. It deserves those reviews! Super place!

It's also a popular place to camp. I had to just guess at which of the few sites available would be good. I lucked out and guessed right. I was in site 5, which was just the type of site I like--it was deep and level with thick greenery on each side for privacy. Many of the sites are like this, while some have less greenery, and some are right out in the open with no greenery.

There is a lot to do and see at this park. I passed on the paddling this time, as I think their river access is very poor (it's a long way from where you unload your boat from your car to where you launch) and I am not that crazy about the Suwannee at this location anyway. I did, however, take the bike, for the riding is great here. There are three campground loops to pedal through, as well as getting on the park road to go to the various exhibits.

There is a bell tower with a carillon in it. This strikes the quarter-hour during the daytime, and four times a day it plays a few Stephen Foster tunes. It's loud, but not obtrusively so. This is the bell tower as seen from the road leading to it from the campground.

Those candy canes along the road have spirals of lights on them. During the month of December, the park is presenting a Festival of Lights. Their poster claims that there are 4 million lights strung throughout the park. In addition to the candy canes lining all the roads (but not in the campground), there are Christmas trees and assorted sleighs and so on with lights. I'm sure I will be back to this park in December, so I can see what this all looks like lit up.

There is a Stephen Foster Museum (free admission once you are in the park). It is in a rambling plantation-style house. This is the back of the museum.

I went in to look around. There are essentially two rooms. The one you come into has dioramas set into the walls that were created for Foster's songs. I took a few photos of them, with minimal success due to the glass and lighting...


The other room has several pianos, a mannequin dressed in period clothes, a desk and table, and a few other things, with varying amounts of information about them.

This is the painting that is on the wall:

On that desk in the corner of the room photo was the lyrics to Way Down Upon the Suwannee River in Foster's handwriting.

I rode from there to the bell tower and went in to look around. The spire reached into the sky.

There were some displays related to the carillon, another mannequin in period dress, and one or two more dioramas. This one was easier to photograph. These are quite large.

I had fun at my next stop, the craft cottages. These are little cottages, open at apparently different times of day and days of the week (they are staffed by volunteers), in which there are craft demonstrations (weaving, pottery-making, blacksmithing, rope-making for a few) and the products are sold.

At the head of this walkway is the main gift shop, which has an assortment of wares, including many of the crafts sold in the cottages. Of course, I made a few purchases there...

The next stop on my bike ride was the gazebo overlooking the river. I parked my bike at the top and took the walkway down to the gazebo.

From there I strolled down to the river. The water level was very, very low.

And then back to the campsite for some reading. This was a short trip that I squeezed in before Thanksgiving, so I only had the one full day there. Next time I will stay longer.

I highly recommend this park!



Karen and Al said...

We were just at Stephen Foster a few weeks ago and really enjoyed the park. Your photos and description were so much better than mine!

It's such a nice park.

The Florida Blogger said...

I usually go south in the winter and north in the summer, so it looks like this camp will have to wait until next summer. Nice write up!

Sandra said...

great shot of the look up to the top of the tower. looks like a great place to me, i would love the museum. and I like trees so there is plenty there for me