Make us your home page

23rd Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest promises more

WEEKI WACHEE — They may not have crawled out of the swamp, but it will look as if they had.

And along with the swamp creatures, there will be plenty of swamp vittles — like alligator, jambalaya and crab cakes.

Yes, it is time for the annual Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest, which kicks off today and continues through Sunday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

The event, now in its 23rd year, will feature more than 100 art and craft vendors, a food court, continuous musical entertainment, the popular Swamp Monster contest and a raffle featuring more than 200 prize drawings.

The Swamp Fest is a fundraiser to benefit the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors, the Weeki Wachee Crime Watch, the Weeki Wachee Area Club and other local nonprofit organizations.

To help attendees, the Arc Nature Coast will provide rides on six courtesy shuttles to and from a remote parking lot.

"We moved the remote parking to the (Believers Christian Fellowship) church last year, and it worked out so much better," said Karen Lenhard, Swamp Fest president. "It's wheelchair accessible, and there really shouldn't be any wait time."

Lenhard said this year's event will offer more than in previous years. In fact, as part of the festivities, visitors can experience all of the amenities at Weeki Wachee Springs, including the Buccaneer Bay water park, which has been closed for the winter months.

"We are excited about (Buccaneer Bay) opening this weekend," said John Athanason, marketing coordinator at Weeki Wachee Springs. "The timing works out perfect for the Swamp Fest, and the weather is perfect."

Athanason said additional mermaid shows and river cruises will be added for the weekend festivities. There will be five mermaid shows on both Saturday and Sunday, and they will include the popular Legendary Sirens, mermaids who have performed at the park over the years.

The success of the Swamp Fest, Lenhard said, is due in large part to the hard work of the volunteers who put it together.

"They give so many hours of their time," she said.

Although she got involved with the event in 1995, Lenhard remembers attending the first Swamp Fest, which was just a small community get-together after the devastation of the no-name storm of March 1993. It was a fundraiser to fix the roof of the community clubhouse. Lenhard and her husband, who were at the end of a two-month stay in the Weeki Wachee area when the storm hit, had to extend their stay after losing their car in the storm. It was during the aftermath that they decided to make the small community their home.

"Everyone just banded together," Lenhard remembers. "And we just fell in love with the area and the people here."


23rd annual

Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. Remote parking and shuttle service will be provided at Believers Christian Fellowship, 7410 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee.

Admission: $8; $4 for ages 6 to 12; and free for ages 5 and younger (cash only at the gate). Free parking and shuttle service.

Information: Call organizers at (352) 597-4424, Weeki Wachee Springs at (352) 592-5656 or visit online at



10 a.m.: Hernando Beach Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 15-08 and national anthem performed by Jenny Rimmer

11 a.m.: Jenny Rimmer

12:30 p.m.: Klassic Kountry Kloggers

1:45 p.m.: Soggy Bottom Monday Bluegrass Bunch

3 p.m.: Karaoke with Annie & Friends


10 a.m.: Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 15-08 and national anthem performed by Danielle Pacifico

11 a.m.: Fred George and the Weeki Wachee Wed Warriors

Noon: Swamp Monster Contest and T-shirt awards

12:30 p.m.: Team Body Fitness — Zumba Zombie with Donna Hildebrandt

1:30 p.m.: De Lei'ed Parrots

2:30 p.m.: John Hindman and the Mustang Mafia


10 a.m.: Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 15-08 and national anthem performed by John Hindman

11 a.m.: Skyler Clark Band (sponsored by Captain's Corner)

1 p.m.: DC Country

2:30 p.m.: Jennifer Lee and Nevaeh Peek

23rd Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest promises more 03/09/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24


    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23


    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others


    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]