By Natalie Strom
The 5th annual Jammin’ in the Hammock Bluegrass Festival is fast approaching. The event, which will host six different bluegrass bands, will be held on Saturday, February 11, from 10:00AM to 6:00PM and Sunday, February 12, from 9:30AM to 6:00PM, at Collier-Seminole State Park.
Sponsored by the Friends of Collier- Seminole State Park, a Citizens Support Organization(CSO), all proceeds from the festival will benefit the park. Admission to the event is $15 per day or $25 for both days. Admittance is free to children 13 and under as long as they are accompanied by a paying adult. Attendees are also encouraged to camp at the park overnight. Dry camp spots are $15 per night and are offered on a first come, first serve basis. Those with RVs may purchase a spot with electric and water for $24.20 per night but must make reservations ahead of time. To reserve your spot at Collier-Seminole Park call Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521.
Jammin’ in the Hammock is one of the most popular fund-raising events within the state of Florida’s Parks system. It has become so well-known that it was the 2010 recipient of the State’s Award for Outstanding Special Events.
This year’s festival should prove to be just as special. Six bluegrass bands will take the stage both days to entertain with their banjos, guitars, fiddles and mandolins that define this type of folk music. The Wilson Family Band, set to perform at the festival, are a classic example of bluegrass. The family of four boasts 20-year old son, Clint, on vocals, banjo, mandolin and guitar and daughter, Katie, a ninth-grader proficient in the fiddle. Mom, Melissa, plays the mandolin while dad, Robert, lends a hand at lead vocals and guitar. Bruce Sheridan, a fifth member of the band plays the stand-up bass, rounding out the bluegrass sound the Georgia-based band is known for.
Local sensations, The Wholetones, will be performing as well. The band, according to their website, “formed in 2007 when Alex Dorris and Taylor Freydberg met at a local bluegrass jam in South Florida.” They later added two more members, Russell Depa on upright bass and Mayo Coates on drums. Freydberg leads on vocals and guitar while Dorris also sings and plays a variety of instruments such as the banjo and cello. Their sound is extremely unique, combining bluegrass with folk, jazz and metal, which easily captivates any audience.
Other acts to perform will be The Sawgrass Drifters, Tomorrow’s News, Front Line and Kristi Morris and Jeff Kellogg.
There will be a large variety of vendors at the event. Food and arts and crafts will be available for purchase. The Friends of Collier-Seminole Park will hold a 50/50 raffle each day along with other prize drawings throughout the festival.
Local non-profit organizations will be setting up informational booths during the festival as well. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and Big Cypress National Preserve will teach the importance of conservation throughout the weekend.
Bill and Lynn Hibbs will once again lend their talents to the festival. Bill, a World War II veteran, makes beautiful walking sticks out of Melaleuca tree wood, even though he is legally blind. His wife, Lynn, and daughter, Kathy, help him with every step of the process. Jackie Sture then adds a unique look to the walking sticks with her beautiful wood-burning technique. Watch as they transform the invasive Melaleuca tree into a useful tool. Purchase one and know that all of the proceeds for these one-of-a-kind walking sticks will go right back to Collier-Seminole Park.
While at the park for their annual event, visitors can view the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge, a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The dredge was used to build the Tamiami Trail which connected the east and west coasts of Florida in the 1920s.
Experience the phenomenon that is bluegrass music in one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world. Take a stroll down their recently rebuilt boardwalk and see first-hand where the proceeds to this funky festival will lead you.
Collier-Seminole State Park is located at 20200 E. Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL. For more information on the Jammin’ in the Hammock Bluegrass Festival, contact the park at 239-394-3397.