One of my coworkers, Kirsten, was telling me about a fall festival being held at Wekiwa Springs State Park back in mid-October. She was very excited about it and planned to take her son, and that excitement was contagious. We'd never been to Wekiwa, so that Saturday found us at the park for the festival.
I didn't quite know what to expect to see once we walked down into the swimming area. I've heard stories about how packed the place gets during the summer, and the weather looked like it was going to be gorgeous. We walked down the steps to find only a few people swimming. Before making our rounds at the vendor tables, we decided to walk the small trail that began on the far side of the pool. A few photos:
Once we made it back to the main park area we started going from vendor table to vendor table. There were many organizations represented, from environmental groups to law enforcement, apiaries to scientific researchers. We tried to visit and speak with as many as we could. Such as:
Frederickson Apiaries, where I sampled several types of honey and ended up with a very special choice:
The Cambrian Foundation, where Olivia got to hold a tiny little turtle and also got a lesson in precipitation and evaporation:
There were many other places whose names I can't remember, but we still had a lot of fun talking with them and participating in their demonstrations.
The park itself has its own hands-on kind of animal education center. Some of the animals were carried through the park by a ranger and available to pet:
....while others were available inside the education center:
The neatest exhibit, in my opinion:
After visiting the animals, we grabbed some lunch. Then we headed down to the other side of the swimming area, the canoe/kayak launch. It was a very popular place! Lots of people were coming and going, and we were sorry we weren't among them.
The floating yellow barriers seen in the above picture are to keep the hydrilla out of the way. It's an invasive water plant that can completely overtake the river, and Wekiwa in particular has had a hard time dealing with it.
We walked around a little while longer and took a few more pictures:
We even spotted a local out foraging for his lunch.
With that, it was time to go. Rob had an evening event at work and had to get ready for it. So, we packed up and headed home. Wekiwa Springs was a mystery to me before this day. And while we didn't experience it in the traditional sense, we saw it in a very special way. Maybe next summer we'll battle the crowds and go for a swim. Hopefully we'll launch our kayak and spend a day on the water. Whatever we do, we'll have a great time in a beautiful location. :)