Join us for the 6th annual Big Cypress Swamp Heritage Festival on Saturday December 3 at the Big Cypress National Preserve Welcome Center. This free family event shines a spotlight on the inhabitants of South Florida, whose rugged strength and pioneering spirit helped to shape today's unique and diverse culture. These chapters in American history add to the rich and colorful tableau that comprises our shared past and present.
All festival events are free, but tickets are required for auditorium presentations. To reserve a free ticket for any of the presentations listed below, click on “REGISTER" above.
PLEASE NOTE: If the presentation you would like to attend is sold out, we may be able to accommodate you on the day of the festival if ticket-holders fail to show up. People without tickets can line up before any of the presentations to claim extra seats as they become available.
For more information about the festival, visit the Big Cypress National Preserve website:
These multimedia presentations will be held in the Welcome Center Auditorium. The venue can hold approx 80 people. Due to the popularity of these programs, FREE TICKETS REQUIRED.
To reserve a free ticket, click on "REGISTER" above.
Patrick Smith's Florida is A Land Remembered
Presented by Rick Smith
11 AM to 12:30 PM / Program repeats at 3:00 PM
Few if any books have captured the spirit and colorful history of Florida's past as has Patrick Smith's beloved novel A Land Remembered. It has been said many times that people should receive a copy of A Land Remembered when they cross the Florida state line. It shows you the real Florida, not the vacation destination so many people expect. Audiences all over Florida have enjoyed Rick Smith's show about his father Patrick and his beloved books. Rick's presentation isn't a stuffy lecture or talk. It's visual storytelling - a fun, fast-paced, entertaining show.
Going to the Glades, Going to the Cypress
Presented by Gladesman Franklin Adams
12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Join long-time gladesman and conservationist Franklin Adams as he shares his memories from a lifetime of exploration and adventure in the Big Cypress and Greater Everglades. "There is a sense of freedom," he says. "You have to experience it. Being part of nature is a rare thing." Franklin will share magical tales of the people and places he connected with during his time in the swamp.
A Picture Worth One Thousand Words
Presented by Photographer Clyde Butcher
1:45 PM to 2:45 PM
Through his large format photography Clyde Butcher has been capturing and sharing the beauty, textures and forms of Florida's landscape for thirty years. He will share stories of his adventures in the swamps, rivers and mangroves that make Florida the unique sub-tropical paradise he calls home. This keynote presentation is the story of his great adventure.
These intimate conversations and stories are shared around the campfire in the main exhibitor tent. Presenters share their connection to the Big Cypress, the natural and cultural stories of south Florida and nature in general. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.
Giants of the Swamp: Logging in the Big Cypress
Presented by Historian Cesar Becerra.
11:30 AM to 12:15 PM
What happened to the giant cypress trees of south Florida? Cesar Becerra documents the logging boom of the mid-20th century in Florida. When most of America had switched to chainsaws, loggers in south Florida were doing things the old fashioned way, with cross-cut saws, steam-powered mills, locomotives and raw sweat as they took down the last of the giant cypress and pine trees in the southern U.S. In 1958 the Saturday Evening Post called the Big Cypress/Everglades logging operations the most dangerous job in America.
12:30 to 1:15 PM
1:30 to 2:15 PM
Capturing the Magic of My Home
Presented by Writer Amy Bennett Williams
2:30 to 3:15 PM
Though not originally from Florida, author Amy Bennett Williams now calls southwest Florida home. Through her heart felt essays Amy helps us discover the beauty and complexity of the places and people, both present and past that make up this special place many of us now call home.
Starry, Starry Nights
Presented by Ranger Luke Gommerman
3:30 to 4:15 PM / Program repeats at 7:00 PM
Who knew?! The Big Cypress National Preserve has some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River and it's located just an hour or so from approximately 6 million residents who live in major urban centers on Florida's east and west coasts. While immersed in the city a person may only notice the glare of artificial light. Out in the Big Cypress you can be immersed in the Milky Way. Seasonal park ranger Luke Gommerman will be joined by partners from local astronomical societies and the International Dark-Sky Association along with their equipment to share the story of the importance of protecting the night.
MUSIC, FOOD and DEMONSTRATIONS
Songs of the Swamp
Performed by J Robert, Cindy Hackney and Raiford Starke
10 AM to 2 PM
The performers have Florida in their veins and celebrate the importance of caring about this special place through song and story. J Roberts and his guests will share original award winning compositions which highlight today's environmental challenges facing south Florida.
Enjoy the taste of south Florida and the Big Cypress provided by a local food vendor.
Demonstrations and Exhibitors
10:30 to 4:00 PM
A variety of demonstrators and exhibitors will be set up throughout the day. Discover more about the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes; public land agencies and partners; organizations and eco-tour operators – all of whom are connected to the Big Cypress Swamp.
This year's festival is dedicated to Joe Browder (April 10, 1938 –September 18, 2016), a staunch advocate for protecting natural areas in Florida and across the country. Joe was instrumental in the creation of both Big Cypress National Preserve and Biscayne National Monument, later designated as a National Park. It was through Joe's persistence that Marjory Stoneman Douglas started the Friends of the Everglades, an organization focused on stopping the development of the proposed Everglades Jetport, the completion of which would have had devastating effects to the Big Cypress.