FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – While behind the scenes the event may have shifted gears, to the public is was still one of the most highly anticipated events of the spring with no shortage of authenticity.

Returning to Princess Place Preserve over the February 25-26 weekend, visitors from across the U.S. headed out for the two-day Native American Festival. Snowbirds from as far away as Michigan and New Jersey soaked up the warm Florida sunshine while taking in the Native American dances and finery.

For some attendees it was a first visit to the educational festival experience where in addition to shopping and dining, there’s the opportunity to visit historical encampments and listen to reenactors.

For others it’s become an annual trip on their calendars. Sitting under the sprawling shade of the preserve, visitors of all ages watched attentively as dancers performed ceremonial routines including the fascinating Fire Dance by the Aztec dancers, mesmerized by the tribal chants and songs that have been passed down through the generations.

Creek Indian Jim Sawgrass and his family, involved in helping organize the event since it’s inception, has taken the lead on the festival, and with a solid roster of participants, regular attendees look forward to familiar faces like those of Cherokee Rick Bird and Kiowa tribesman Duane Whitehorse, and even the hoop dancing from Sawgrass’ own son Cody Boettner, a world-champion hoop dancer.

“We have over 50 tribes from North America and South America,” he said. “We have every tribe from Creek to Mohawk to Seminole. This is very special. We’ve been organizers of Native American events in Central Florida for more than 25 years.”

“This year the county has turned the event over to my family who helped them organize it since it’s beginnings. With the retirement of Frank they’re letting us take it over and we’re going to keep it, continue it and make it bigger and better,” said Sawgrass.

Set for next February 24-25, 2024, he says there are opportunities for the businesses to sponsor and support the event by visiting www.JimSawgrass.com.

“They can get involved as a volunteer, even. We could use the help as it’s always a big undertaking”