STEPHEN FOSTER FOLK CULTURE CENTER STATE PARK
Situated on the banks of the legendary Suwannee River, this center honors the memory of American composer Stephen Foster, who wrote "Old Folks at Home," the song that made the river famous. The museum features exhibits about Foster's most famous songs and his music can be heard emanating from the park's 97-bell carillon throughout the day. In Craft Square, visitors can watch demonstrations of quilting, blacksmithing, stain glass making, and other crafts, or visit the gift shop. Hiking, bicycling, canoeing, and wildlife viewing are popular activities. Miles of trails wind through some of the most scenic areas of North Florida. For overnight stays, visitors can camp in the full-facility campground or stay in a cabin. Every Memorial Day weekend (last weekend in May), the park hosts the Florida Folk Festival. Other special events include concerts, weekend retreats, a monthly coffeehouse, a regional quilt show, and an antique tractor show. Located in White Springs off U.S. 41 North.
In 1931 Josiah K. Lilly, an Indiana pharmaceutical manufacturer, suggested that Florida create a memorial to the American composer Stephen Foster, whose lyrics had made the Suwannee River famous around the world. The Florida Federation of Music Clubs worked with local citizens in White Springs to obtain land contributions that were then presented to the state. In 1950 the Stephen Foster Memorial Commission was set up to administer development of the park. Shortly thereafter the Florida Folk Festival was established to highlight the state?s cultural history and traditions. In 1979 the memorial became a part of the Florida Park Service and now carries the name of the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. In 2002, the Florida Folk Festival will celebrate its 50th year anniversary.
White SpringsThe Suwannee River has its headwaters in the Okefenokee Swamp of southeastern Georgia. It travels a southwestern course for about 250 miles before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. East of White Springs, the river?s limestone outcroppings and a drop in elevation create Florida?s only whitewater rapids at Big Shoals. Opportunities abound for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and camping along the Suwannee River.
White Sulphur Springs, located on the banks of the Suwannee River at the Stephen Foster Center, can be dated at least to the 1700s. Native Americans regarded the sulphur springs as sacred ground because of its curative powers.
White European settlers did not establish substantial populations in the area until after the Civil War. In the late 1800s, they began promoting the springs as a health resort, advertising the sulphuric waters as a cure for almost any ailment.
In 1906 the spring was enclosed with gates and a high concrete wall to keep the river out. Buildings on either side of the spring contained shops, dressing rooms, and clinical examination rooms. Among the resort?s many famous visitors were Henry Ford and Teddy Roosevelt. The spring house continued to attract visitors as late as the 1950s. Today the original concrete wall and gate still exist. White Springs retains its cultural heritage as a tourist destination spot.
Each of our five riverside cabins can accommodate a maximum of 6 people. These spacious two-bedroom cabins have centralized heating and cooling, a gas fireplace, screened-in porch, and kitchenette. They are fully equipped with linens and kitchen utensils. One of the cabins is ADA accessible. Pets are not permitted in the cabins or cabin area. No minimum or maximum stay is required.
The newly renovated campground offers 45 oak-shaded sites with electricity available and state-of-the-art bathhouses. Pets are also welcome at Stephen Foster campground.
The campground at Stephen Foster State Park has 45 oak-shaded sites, all of which will accommodate RV camping. Fourteen of the sites are pull-through sites for larger rigs. Three of the sites have 50 AMP electrical hookups and the remainder have 30 AMP hookups. All of the sites have an in-ground fire ring, potable water, and a picnic table. The campground features two state-of-the-art bathhouses and a washer and dryer. The dump station is located at the campground entrance.
For about six months a year water levels in the Suwannee make the river accessible only by canoe. In the springtime wild azaleas crowd the ridgeline above the river. During periods of low water flow, limestone outcroppings, small caves, rock formations and overhangs can be enjoyed along the river course. Alligators and turtles can be viewed in their natural habitats. Canoeing also affords visitors excellent fishing opportunities. Canoe liveries are available locally.
Fresh water fish are plentiful, especially when traveling the river by canoe. Large-mouth bass, black crappie, known locally as speckled perch, channel catfish, and many types of sunfish and bream are swimming and breeding in the waters year-round. A fishing license is required.