Suwannee River Paddling Festival is scheduled for April 4-6. Beautifully situated atop bluffs at the confluence of the scenic Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, Suwannee River State Park will be home base for the 2014 festival featuring paddling trips on both rivers, a Friday night Water Expo,
Saturday night concert, camping, hiking, an evening ghost tour, and real-Florida fun.
Weekend paddling options from 12-20 miles are available on both rivers and to Pott Springs and Madison Blue Springs. Boat and paddler shuttles provided. The weekend package costs $125 per person and $200 per couple, which includes camping fees, ghost tour, all meals, shuttles, concert admission, an event t-shirt, boat sticker, reusable water bottle, and river trail maps. Paddling for just one day is $75/person plus $25 for shuttle service if needed. Concert-only tickets are $25 if purchased online in advance or $30 if purchased at the door. The ghost tour is a two mile hike from Suwannee River State Park to the old Drew mansion site, Ellaville town ruins and a graveyard and back. The festival registration deadline is March 28. For reservations and tickets visit www.paddleflorida.org.
Suwannee Canoe Outpost, official outfitter for the festival, can provide canoe or kayak rentals as well as other paddling accessories. To make reservations call 386-364-4991. This year’s benefit concert on Saturday evening will feature some of Paddle Florida’s favorite musicians – Weeds of Eden, Bing Futch and Magda Hiller.
Weeds of Eden, a Gainesville band, opens the concert with its original bio-regional music plus some folk and rock standards, Celtic tunes, and filthy pirate songs. The band has been playing in North Central Florida for more than a decade and returns to the Park to show its support for Paddle Florida and its annual benefit concert.
Singer/songwriter Bing Futch has made a name for himself by taking the Appalachian mountain dulcimer to electrifying extremes. He mixes African and Native American rhythms, blues, bluegrass, funk, jazz, Celtic, country/western, Middle Eastern, and Latin influences with rock and pop grooves.
Magda Hiller’s career as a musically diverse, intelligent performing songwriter has had her sharing the stage with Vangelis at London’s Royal Albert Hall and folk legend Odetta at the Ottawa Folk Festival. Saturday under a Suwannee night sky, she will entertain music lovers with her rhythmic, soul-baring, image laden, jazzy style.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit Florida Defenders of the Environment. This organization was founded in 1969 by Marjorie Harris Carr and a group of local activists to save the Ocklawaha River from the danger posed by the Cross Florida Barge Canal. From its humble beginnings in the Carr family living room, Florida Defenders of the Environment has grown into one of the oldest and most well respected environmental organizations in Florida. While remaining focused on the preservation, protection and restoration of Florida’s freshwater resources, its work has expanded to encompass environmental education initiatives and exploring the links between environmentalism and the arts.
In keeping with its mission, Paddle Florida is very proud to work with Florida Defenders of the Environment to make positive strides for our environment and emphasize education about the region’s water and wildlife ecology. Friday evening’s program at Suwannee River State Park will include a Water Expo showcasing conservation efforts, educational speakers, and local outdoor/recreation vendors.
For more information, contact Bill Richards, Executive Director of Paddle Florida, Inc., 352-377-8342 or email@example.com or visit http://paddleflorida.org/ or visit Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/paddleflorida .