Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park, situated on the Suwannee River was built in honor of composer Stephen Foster. He is of course the author of the famous folk song, "Old Folks At Home", which is also the state song of Florida. The park includes the Stephen Foster Carillon Tower Museum, where you can view beautiful dioramas of Foster's songs, antique pianos and other instruments he used for writing and composing his music. The carillon tower houses the largest tubular bell instrument ever constructed, from which you will hear Foster's most famous tunes played in concerts throughout the day.

We enjoyed visiting the different craft shops in Craft Square, watching as pottery, beaded jewelry and quilts were being made. There was also the blacksmith's shop and an aroma therapist selling her home made candles and and scented oils. They all smelled so delicious and there were so many to choose from, floral scents, citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, and more. There was an older gentleman selling canes he had carved from tree branches, they were beautiful. My favorite craft shop was the pottery shop, I love pottery. We spent quite a while talking with the owner as she created a quirky sculpture of a rooster, which as it turns out, I am a collector of quirky roosters. She invited us to come back some
time for a class and I would love to take her up on the offer, but it's a long way to drive for a pottery class. There is of course the gift shop which sells the work of these local artists in addition to t-shirts, hats, pictures, candies and preserves and many other items, and of course plenty of Stephen Foster memorabilia.
This is a great place to picnic; there are picnic areas throughout the park. These are some of the nicest we have seen in any of the parks we have visited. After lunch, we of course had to take a hike down one of several trails in the park and eventually made our way around to the river. One of the things you will notice about the Suwannee River is the really dark water; you may think it is polluted, but it is actually what is known as a black water river. The dark water is caused by organic acids which stain the water, thereby making it appear black.

This is a very popular area for those who enjoy canoeing and kayaking. There is a lot of beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife to enjoy while you paddle along the river. There is plenty to do and see at the Stephen Foster Culture Center. There are festivals, craft fairs, concerts and other events here throughout the year. You can see a schedule of events by going to the Florida State Parks website at

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