Since 1953 the Town of White Springs, Florida, has been the host to the nation’s oldest state sponsored Folk Festival — the Florida Folk Festival. As you wander around the festival this week you will experience some amazing happenings, cultural, culinary, educational, artistic and folkloric! Some of them will, of course, be musical, because the festival abounds in musical magnificence. There will be national talent on display and they will delight you with their hit songs and tunes that we all know the words to. But an added dimension of the Florida Folk Festival music scene is all the “other” amazing talent you’ll hear. You’ll experience performances that showcase the diversity of Florida in such a beautiful way. You’ll see relatively unknown performers that have as much or more talent than some of the headliners. You’ll hear some music that you’ve heard for many years and want to hear for many more, but you’re sure to hear new songs and new talent that will add to that wonderful sense of discovery that so many people experience at the Florida Folk Festival every year.

But the festival is so much more than just music. If you’re a Floridian, this festival belongs to you! The longest running state sponsored folk festival in the nation is about you and your neighbors, spotlighting the tradition, heritage, history and culture through amazing expressive mediums such as music, arts and crafts, dance, storytelling, culinary delights, workshops, demonstrations and audience interaction. Much of the wonder of the folk festival happens at the Florida Folklife area and stage. It’s wonderful, it’s amazing and it’s yours! Come out and support it!

We’ve had some amazing local people involved in the Folk Festival in White Springs over the years who have gone on to careers of national significance. A former resident of White Springs, Dr. Peggy A Bulger moved on to become the Director of the National Folklife Program at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

We were happy to hear that Peggy is the recipient for the 2019 Legends and Legacies lifetime achievement award, given to recognize those individuals who have been instrumental towards the success of the Florida Folk Festival. The festival Legends and legacies committee announced their selection of Peggy, who is the folklorist who started the Folklife Area of the Florida Folk Festival, and who has had a continuous influence on the festival since her arrival in White Springs in the mid-70s. Dr. Bulger, other members of the Florida Folklife Council and Amanda Hardeman, the Florida state folklorist, work together to make the Florida Folklife Area of the Florida Folk Festival an outstanding example of the cultural diversity found in Florida, and a celebration of Florida traditions. We are proud that this year’s Legends and Legacies committee recognizes Peggy A. Bulger for her knowledge of the importance of celebrating the traditional cultures found in Florida and for her dedication to the Florida Folklife Area and the Florida Folk Festival. Congratulations Peggy!!

This week on a visit to New Orleans I rediscovered many of the reasons I love living in White Springs. Believe it or not, we have some things in common with New Orleans. White Springs and New Orleans are respectively located on two of the most famous rivers in the world, the beautiful Suwannee and the mighty Mississippi. We both value our history, tradition and culture. We both love good music and good food. But we are by no means alike! New Orleans is huge and crowded and noisy. It has a vibrancy that borders on being hectic or even chaotic. I very much enjoyed our visit to New Orleans, but I am so glad to be back to White Springs! We don’t have any stop lights, we are not always in a hurry, we know how to get anywhere in town without getting lost, we never feel like a stranger in our own town, our roads are not congested, and when we toot our horn, it’s to say “hello,” not to say “Get the “hello” out of the way!” White Springs is not overpriced, over-hyped, overcrowded, or overcome with progress! We could stand to grow and prosper some, but it only takes an occasional taste of the “big city” to make me appreciate our small town flavor all the more. It’s good to be home!

Well, once again I’ve said enough but, as always, I do want to remind you that if you have news you want to share, you should let “Life in White Springs” help. We’re always glad to hear about goings on in the community and will be glad to share anything that is appropriate for this column. Just contact Walter McKenzie at I am thankful that we truly are all connected, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.

Walter McKenzie


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