Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, March 9, 2009

Friday March 6th - 8th 2009

Last year at Manatee Springs Andy and I were setting up and settling into our site when we heard the ancient and mystically beautiful sounds of a dulcimer being played in the park.  Investigating got us introduced to Michael Vickey who has just become Florida's Champion Hammered Dulicer player for 2009!!!!  He is, without exaggeration, FANTASTIC!   He is in the "Good For Nothing String Band" with CDs for sale through their web site.  Google it and buy will not regret you did!!

Keeping in touch with Michael over this past year has built a friendship and an admiration.  We met him at this Culture Center to get to see him and to hear him.  Stephen Foster has a "Coffee House" where they host an open mic night.  One never knows how many musicians will show up and play so we got there early and took front row seats.  It was packed to bursting a half hour later!!!  Michael transfixed us all as did so many other excellent musicians from Pennsyvania to Texas to Tennessee, Kentucky, and more.  It was amazing!!!  I did not take pictures during the show but did get a few shots of some of the star players while they jammed in the afternoon. 

The park is based around Stephen Foster who was a very prolific song writer of many a tune you will recognize:  "Beautiful Dreamer", "Old Black Joe" , "Suwannee River", "Camptown Races"   are just a few of his hundreds of published works!!  There is a museum to honor and preserve his legacy and pianos.  There is also a tall bell tower that plays a selection of his tunes every hour during the day and a snipit every half hour.  Quite amazing to hear "Old Black Joe" in bells!!!

The coffee house is an example of the mission of the park to keep culture alive and healthy.  To give folks a chance to be heard and to hear great music for free or a small donation.  This park is truly a treasure in the northern Florida hills.  The Suwannee River runs through the park so hiking, biking and kayaking are all a wonderful part of the things to do and take in.  There is also a crafts village set up to allow folks to bring their crafts to sell and share their process with the visitors.  We took in the different artists and especially enjoyed watching the blacksmith turn a hunk of black metal into a beautiful and graceful hook.

Our great friend, Bob Duffy was also traveling around these here hills so he came by for one night at Stephen Foster.  Unfortunately he missed the Coffee House night but we got to enjoy a lunch and a dinner and a terrific bike ride.  Bob was a huge help in getting Andy and my brakes adjusted while giving us the knowledge to do it ourselves the next time.  Andy learns a lot from UTube videos but there is no substitute for a hands on teacher like Bob!!  Thanks Bob!

Another wonderful and magical experience of being on the road out here in nature.  The State Parks are wonderous resources open for all of us to use and enjoy.  I hope this Blog encourages all of its readers to think about what parks are in your area and then go outside and visit them!!
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