Umatilla’s Cadwell Park hosting annual Florida Wildlife Festival

black-bear-walking

The Florida Wildlife Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 19, at Cadwell Park, 4 Cassady St. in Umatilla. The family-friendly attraction begins at 11am and the BBQ Cook-off starts at 5pm.

The festival will include nature tours, children’s activities, food trucks, arts and craft vendors, live music, wildlife experts and scouting activities for the whole family. It’s a free event, except charges for food. Among the new features this year are artist Chad Gainey’s chainsaw carvings of eight trees in Cadwell Park.

Originally called the Black Bear Festival, the event’s purpose is to educate people about how to safely coexist with the Florida black bear and all of Florida’s native wildlife species.

One of the main attractions are the tours, both riding and walking, led by the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway group into the Ocala National Forest. Attendees can choose a 1½-hour riding tour where they can expect to see deer, gopher turtles, alligators, birds and, occasionally, black bears. The walking tour explores Alexander Springs and some of the caves in the area.

Visitors also can enjoy fun educational programs in a relaxed setting. Partners including the U.S. Forest Service and the Defenders of Wildlife participate, along with other experts presenting programs and answering questions throughout the day.

For more information, visit floridawildlifefestival.org or call 352.669.3511.

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