Springtime Santa Fe River Events Provide Opportunities to Learn, Explore, and Play

Press release from Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

The 10th Annual Santa Fe RiverFest fundraiser returns with the Santa Fe River Song Contest on Sunday, March 27, 2022, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Rum 138, 2070 Southwest County Road 138, Fort White, Florida. Held over two weekends during the month of March, RiverFest activities also include a plant walk and guided river paddle. These “learn, explore, and play” events are sponsored by Our Santa Fe River, Inc., a North Florida non-profit organization working to bring some much-needed attention to area water resources.

“We have worked very hard this year to give our river a voice where the science of water can be celebrated through a confluence of song, dance, art, and mermaid magic” said Rhonda Long, 2022 RiverFest Coordinator. “These events enable us to not only raise funds, but awareness, so we can continue to develop and expand our grassroots efforts to protect our community’s aquifers, springs, and waters,” said Long. In addition, “this year, we’ve reduced the ticket price of the Song Contest to make it more affordable for the whole family to attend,” said Our Santa Fe River President Kristin Rubin.

The Song Contest, a competition of original songs written about the Santa Fe River, brings local and regional singer/songwriters and music lovers from around the state to celebrate and learn about this special spring-fed river. Entrants perform their songs live at Rum 138 on March 27, 2022. Gates open at 1 p.m. with “In the Moment” band opening the show. The live performance of song entries begins at 2 p.m. Gainesville’s Poet Laureate E. Stanley Richardson is the master of ceremonies. The winner and two runners-up will walk away with a cash prize, and all participants will receive a professional YouTube video of their performance. After the song winners are announced and the silent auction pieces are distributed, “In the Moment” takes the stage again to close the show.

The RiverFest Song Contest will include an opportunity to have a photograph with a MerMaid, information booths, locally crafted beer, food and wine, a 50/50 raffle, and a silent auction with many interesting and unusual items, including pieces donated by the area’s leading artists and craftsman.

This year’s Plant Hikes feature Bottomland Hardwood Forest with guide and botanist Colette Jacono, Ph.D., on Saturday, March 19, at 9:00 a.m. and Transitional Hike from Upland Forest down to Spring Run Swamp on Sunday, March 20, at 9:00 a.m. Admission is $20 per person. There is a $5 parking fee at the site, so carpooling is encouraged.

The annual guided paddle will be on Saturday, March 26, at 10:00 a.m. The Upper Santa Fe / Olustee Creek paddle tour will be an up-and-back paddle on the upper Santa Fe River. The first half of the tour is against a light current that you will barely feel. The return back downstream (going with the current) will end the trip at the same launch site. Paddle time, including a brief lunch/stretch break, is about 3 – 3.5 hours. 

This tour will be on a little-known section of the Santa Fe River, above the River Sink and O’Leno Park. We will paddle to, and (if water levels allow) a short way beyond the confluence of Olustee Creek. This charming reach of the upper Santa Fe is characterized by a wide channel with high, sandy banks. Reserve your place early, as this event historically sells out quickly. 

Admission to the Song Contest is $10 per person, ages 12 and under free. Plant Hikes are $20 per person (plus parking). Tickets can be purchased in advance at oursantaferiver.org. Tickets to the Upper Santa Fe/Olustee Creek Paddle are $60 per person, including vessel, or $40 per person with your own vessel and must be purchased directly through Adventure Outpost by calling (386) 454-0611. Bring your Plant Hike or Paddle Ticket to the Song Contest to receive $5 off food & beverage tickets. All proceeds support Our Santa Fe River Inc.

For event information, sponsorship opportunities, or to purchase tickets or volunteer for an event, visit oursantaferiver.org.