HIGH SPRINGS, FL – The songs of the Santa Fe River are set to overflow its banks in March, weaving melody and music through the fabric of the legendary RiverFest Celebration, now in its 11th year recognizing the beauty and brilliance of the Santa Fe River.

The annual Santa Fe Riverfest, sponsored by Our Santa Fe River, Inc.  (OSFR) culminates in a full day of live music, vendors, food trucks, games, family fun, and the highly anticipated performances of this year’s contestants in the Singer/Songwriter Contest. Nineteen talented musicians will share their folk medleys, pop ditties, and ballads celebrating the significance of the Santa Fe River during the contest, which awards cash prizes to the top three finishers. This year’s festivities are set for March 26, 2023, from 1-7 p.m. at Rum 138 in Fort White.

In the fortnight leading up to the song contest and celebration, RiverFest offers hands-on opportunities for Floridians of all ages to experience the majesty of the Santa Fe River, including springs and forest hikes with Botanist Dr. Colette Jacono, and a river paddle with Master Naturalist Lars Andersen. More information and the opportunity to purchase tickets for all events can be found here.

About the Santa Fe River

The Santa Fe “RiverFest” is an annual tribute event and fundraiser for the promotion and protection of the 75-mile-long Santa Fe River. Beginning in Keystone Heights, the Santa Fe winds through O’Leno State Park, sinks “underground” for 3 miles and resurfaces at River Rise State Park, and is fed by popular springs such as Gilchrist Blue, Ginnie, Poe, and Rum Island, and ultimately joins the Suwannee River in Branford. Hundreds of thousands of residents, visitors, plants, and animals enjoy the wealth of this springs-fed river and rely on its healthy flow for recreation, clean water, and food.

About “Our Santa Fe River Inc.”

All proceeds of RiverFest benefit the mission of Our Santa Fe River, a volunteer driven not-for-profit 501c3 organization, which applies all funds to programs that protect the river and its surrounding environment. Proceeds from program advertising revenues, ticket sales, and contributions are used to promote sustainable water usage and defend the river against illegal or excessive water extractions, and the impacts of water bottling plants and phosphate mines on its health.  By sponsoring, attending, and contributing, you can help protect Our Santa Fe River.

For more information about the Santa Fe RiverFest and Our Santa Fe River, Inc., please visit our website at www.oursantaferiver.org, or contact Terry Phelan, president, at 352-214-8287 or email terry.phelan@oursantaferiver.org.

Information about specific events:

Little Awesome Springs and Forest Hike

Saturday, March 18th, 2023

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Meet at 8:30 a.m. Rum 138, 2070 SW County Rd 138, Fort White FL to shuttle to the hike’s gated location. $25 donation limited to 25 people.

Experience the magic of the bottomland forest and springs guided by plant botanist/ecologist Colette Jacono PhD, Negotiate a karst landscape locally renowned for its unique geologic features, alligator nursery, and turkey population.  For more information visit:  https://oursantaferiver.org/riverfest/riverfest-plant-hike-little-awesome-w-colette-jacono/

Santa Fe River Park Transitional Hike

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Meet at 8500 NE State Rd 47 High Springs, FL 32643.

$25 donation limited to 25 people.

With plant botanist/ecologist Colette Jacono PhD, learn to recognize the features that define habitat specific trees while discovering an infinite blue spring.  Follow its run which, scattered with islets, remains a refuge for otters into the cool, shady bottomlands protected in conservation.  For more information visit:  https://oursantaferiver.org/riverfest/riverfest-plant-hike-santa-fe-river-park/

Santa Fe River Springs Hop Paddle

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

12:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

HWY 27 Boat Ramp to Hollingworth Boat Ramp

$60 donation limited to 25 people.

Paddled and guided by Master Naturalist Lars Anderson, this tour will encompass the river’s famous springs, siphons, and other features including lots of turtles, birds, and possibly an alligator or two.  For more information visit:  https://oursantaferiver.org/riverfest/riverfest-paddle-springs-hop-w-lars-andersen/  To reserve your spot call (386)497-4214 or email RiverGuide2000@yahoo.com.

RiverFest 11th Annual Singer/Songwriting Contest

Sunday, March 26th, 2023

1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Rum 138, 2070 SW County Rd 138, Fort White, FL  32038

$10 donation/ 12 and under free

Hosted by Our Santa Fe River, Inc. the song contest is a judged competition of original works created and performed by singer/songwriters whose theme centers around the Santa Fe River.  Other highlights include a silent auction, real live mermaid, and food and beverages from local vendors.   Contact email:  RiverFest@oursantaferiver.org.

Tickets:  https://oursantaferiver.org/riverfest/buy-riverfest-tickets/