NatureFest Returns for 2012
Mark your calendars for October 4 – 7. Polk County’s four-day nature festival returns this fall with a new name, Central Florida NatureFest. Previously known as Polk NatureFest, the new name better reflects the festival’s broad geographical area of coverage. Central Florida NatureFest 2012 offers something for everyone; including birding, hiking, kayaking, butterfly and wildflower viewing, nature photography, star gazing, swamp buggy rides, air boat tours and exclusive behind-the-scenes access to some of Polk County’s most pristine parks and natural lands. Participants will create an exclusive nature experience for themselves by hand selecting the field trip excursions they desire; all led by wildlife experts.
Circle B Bar Reserve: One of “51 Great Places To See Wildlife”
Well-known, and a local favorite, the 1,267 acre Circle B Bar Reserve will serve as the check-in base for many activities during the nature festival. In 2011, USA TODAY named Circle B Bar Reserve as one of “51 Great Places To See Wildlife”. Once a functioning cattle ranch, Circle B Bar Reserve is home to Polk’s Nature Discovery Center, a nature showcase welcome center featuring indoor and outdoor classrooms and exhibits, which provides a wonderful opportunity to discover Polk County’s water, wilderness and wildlife. Don’t resist the urge to climb the Learning Tree. It’s an indoor Oak tree replica, complete with observation deck and ready for climbing! Polk County is a virtual cornucopia of unique parks and preserves, providing the resources for varied excursions all around Central Florida, including such locations as the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, Colt Creek State Park, The Avon Park Air Force Range and Disney Wilderness Preserve, to name just a few.
Did you know that millions of years ago, long before Florida had theme parks or even humans, much of Central Florida was covered by ocean, and the eastern part of Polk County was its beach? The sandy soil those receding waters left behind will occasionally offer up a buried treasure in the form of an ancient fossil or shark’s tooth. Due to this unusual topography, the unique Lake Wales Ridge area – also known as Florida’s Ancient Islands – is home to many rare plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world. Central Florida NatureFest 2012 offers the opportunity to Tour Florida’s Ancient Islands. But perhaps you’d rather do a Swamp Tromp in the Green Swamp or see Butterflies by Swamp Buggy at Disney Wilderness Preserve? How about hitting the water for a Peace River Intermediate Kayak Excursion or an Air Boat Tour at Camp Mack? These are but a few of the activities offered. To see the full schedule of excursions, and their locations, go to VisitCentralFlorida.org/naturefest. For questions about the festival, call 863-551-4750.
Register Now, Before it’s Too Late!
The registration charge for participation is $20 per person, plus the additional fees for selected excursions. Included in the $20 registration fee is a Central Florida NatureFest 2012 T-shirt, water bottle and drawstring bag. Due to the exclusive nature of many tours and activities, space on excursions is limited to ensure a quality experience for all participants. Nature enthusiasts are encouraged to view the schedule and register now.
Before, During and After Central Florida NatureFest…
If you are not able to make it to Central Florida NatureFest because your visit falls at a different time – or if you want to come early and stay longer – take the opportunity to explore the dozens of nature parks and preserves in Polk County, which span more than 25,000 acres. To learn more about these parks, go to www.visitcentralflorida.org; or call 1-800-828-7655 to order a “Celebrate Nature” brochure, featuring 37 natural lands within Polk County.
When it comes to finding just the right place to stay during your visit, you should know that choices for accommodations in Polk County are varied, plentiful and moderately priced; including quaint bed and breakfasts, nationally recognized hotel chains, fully appointed vacation rental homes, RV parks and campgrounds.
Water Wings & Wild Things
For those of you familiar with the annual Water, Wings & Wild Things, take note: Starting this year, the one-day event will spin off from the nature festival and is scheduled to take place on Saturday, November 3rd at Circle B Bar Reserve. Call Polk’s Nature Discovery Center for details at 863-668-4673.