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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, stained 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 regional quilt show, a holiday light display and an antique tractor show.
If you enjoy learning about the American composer Stephen Foster you might like to visit Stephen C. Foster State Park in Georgia to experience the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of life in the Okefenokee Swamp. http://gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster
Firsthand Florida Fun: Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park is featured in the Firsthand Florida Fun blog. Experience the park through the video and photos of Erika Z. See all the blog posts here. Watch Erika’s Florida Folk Festival adventure on YouTube and learn more about this yearly event.
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History and Culture
In 1931 Josiah K. Lilly, the son of Indiana pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli K. Lilly, suggested a memorial to composer Stephen Foster, whose song ‘Old Folks at Home’ made the Suwannee River known all over the world. The Florida Federation of Music Clubs adopted his idea and obtained contributions of land in White Springs, Florida. The Stephen Foster Memorial Commission administered the development of the park, which opened in 1950. In 1935, ‘Old Folks at Home’ was designated Florida’s official state song. Stephen Collins Foster, born in 1826, composed more than 200 songs during his lifetime.
In the early days of Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, visitors rode on replica paddle steamers up and down the Suwannee River. The boats were named the Belle of the Suwannee and the Glendy Burke.
Other influential people include Lillian Saunders, she worked hard to help acquire the first 100 acres of land for the Stephen Foster Memorial. As well as ‘Cousin’ Thelma Boltin who was considered the first lady of the Florida Folk Festival, directing the annual celebration for more than 20 years. The first Florida Folk Festival was held in 1953. The Florida Folk Festival has become the longest running state folk festival in the United States, taking place each year during Memorial Day weekend. Many well-known musicians have performed here, including Floridians Gamble Rogers and Will McLean, artisans, musicians and storytellers share their crafts with festival goers each May. Learn more about the Florida Folk Festival.
In the 1700s, White Sulphur Spring, a second magnitude spring located within the park, was regarded as sacred ground for American Indians because the water was believed to hold curative powers. Located on the banks of the Suwannee River, the spring was promoted as a health resort from the mid-1800s through the 1950s. Shops, dressing rooms and clinical examination rooms were built as part of a bath or springhouse beside the spring, which was enclosed by a concrete wall. Some of the spring’s famous visitors included Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Ford. Today, the original concrete wall and gate, located near the park entrance are all that remain of this once popular resort.
Getting Involved Opportunities:
If you are interested in volunteering at the park and becoming part of the Stephen Foster Family, we have numerous different volunteer needs throughout the park, including: Campground Hosts, Park maintenance, Craft Square demonstrators and gift shop sales, Museum Docents (assistants), mechanics, skilled craftspeople, musicians, interpreters, etc. If you would like more information about the fun volunteer opportunities, contact the park at (386) 397-2733Get Involved to learn more about volunteering in state parks. or visit
Park open from 8 a.m. to Sundown.
Museum and Tower are open from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. daily.
Gift Shop Operating Hours:
January through November: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 7 days a week.
December: Weekdays 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
$5.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle
$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass
$20.00 per night, plus tax, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Includes water and electricity.
Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older or who hold a social security disability award certificate or a 100 percent disability award certificate from the Federal Government are permitted to receive a 50 percent discount on current base campsite fees. Proof of eligibility required.
$100.00 per night, plus tax, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Two bedroom, one bathroom cabin with kitchen and porch
Organized Youth and Adult Group Camping:
$1.00 per youth
$5.00 per adult/chaperon
Nelly Bly's Kitchen:
$125.00 per day, plus tax
$125.00 per day, plus tax
$50.00 per day, plus tax
10 Table Picnic Pavilion
$75.00 per day, plus tax