Discover Florida’s Historic Camp Blanding Museum

November 23rd, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Camp Blanding Museum  and Memorial ParkCamp Blanding was a major U.S. Army training facility during WWII. Now it is a fascinating military museum right here in Starke – the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park.

Camp Blanding opened in 1939 as a state-owned, Florida National Guard training facility. When World War II broke out, however, Camp Blanding was enlarged and converted to a federal reserve.

Hundreds of thousands of troops trained at Camp Blanding during WWII. Infantry, Cavalry, Tank Destroyer, Field Artillery, Engineer, Medical, and other specialist troops trained here. Nine full Infantry Divisions trained here, as well, including the 1st ID – more famously referred to as The Big Red One.

Camp Blanding served as an Infantry Replacement Center for most of 1944 and 1945. A large percentage of the soldiers who replenished combat infantry ranks during WWII trained here. The Camp was also home to a 2800-bed hospital and a German POW Compound. Near the end of WWII, it also served as a Separation Center.

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Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History

November 16th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Butterfly Rainforest - Florida Museum of Natural HistoryImagine stepping into a tropical world of lush greenery populated by hundreds of gorgeous and fascinating butterflies and moths. You would either be dreaming … or in the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History!

The Florida Museum of Natural History, located on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, is over 120 years old. Their collections contain more than 34 million specimens and artifacts.

Permanent exhibits at the museum include a focus on the ancient Calusa people of South Florida and an extensive and internationally acclaimed fossil collection. The Discovery Zone contains some fascinating collections and hands-on learning experiences.

One of the museum’s most popular attractions, however, is the Butterfly Rainforest.

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Explore Santa Fe Swamp WMA Conservation Area

October 26th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Florida's Santa Fe Swamp WMAGet out into wild Florida with a visit to Santa Fe Swamp! The Santa Fe Swamp WMA is a wildlife and environmental conservation area just minutes away from our North Central Florida B&B. Visitors to the conservation area enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, fishing, and more.

There are endless reasons to come and enjoy the rewards of a Florida getaway. One is a chance to get out and see some of the Sunshine State’s rich and resplendent wildlife.

The Starke/Hampton Lake area offers a number of opportunities to do so, with a variety of lakes, state forests, and conservation areas to explore. One such popular location is the Santa Fe Swamp WMA.

What is a WMA?

WMA stands for “Wildlife Management Area.” Florida has more than 5.8 million acres of WMA land across the state. WMA’s are conservation areas overseen by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with other governmental or private landowners.

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Boat Launches and Recreational Lakes Near Starke FL

October 13th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Hampton Lake - Lakes Near Starke FL

Hampton Lake – the view from our B&B

Our north central Florida B&B is surrounded by an abundance of lakes – in fact, our B&B is located on the shore of one! But not all of these lakes are publicly accessible for fishing, swimming, or boating. Thus we’ve compiled this short list of recreational lakes near Starke FL.

Florida’s natural attractions have been wowing visitors since the 1800s. Whether it’s the wildlife, sightseeing, or some of the best freshwater fishing in the world, Florida never fails to impress. The only real problem is narrowing down what you want to do and see while you’re here!

If getting out on local lakes is your idea of fun, you’re in luck!

First of all, our B&B, Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast, was not ironically named. We are actually located on the shores of a natural, cypress lake: Hampton Lake (natch).

Hampton Lake

6982 SW 101 St, Hampton, FL 32044
Hampton Lake is a beautiful, 822-acre, natural cypress lake located between Gainesville and Jacksonville. Hampton lake Bed & amp; Breakfast offers 180 feet of Hampton Lake waterfront to share with our guests. Several of our guestrooms boast scenic lake views and everyone loves watching sunsets from the back porch rocking chairs.

Hampton Lake’s cool, spring-fed waters are perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day. Anglers will be happy to hear that the lake has ample bass and bream communities and that our property includes a pier to fish off. Further, a public boat launch makes getting a craft out on the lake’s surface a snap.

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Gator Growl 2018 and University of Florida Homecoming

September 24th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

UF Homecoming and Gator Growl 2018Can you believe it? Gator Growl 2018 and the UF Homecoming are almost upon us. This year sees the Gators’ facing the Missouri Tigers for homecoming, and Walk The Moon pumping up the crowd during Gator Growl.

Come out for the largest student-run pep rally in the nation on November 2nd, 2018. Gator Growl and UF Homecoming 2018 celebrates 95 years of tradition with fun activities like Homecoming Parade, Soulfest, Tailgate BBQ, and so much more.

The Gators will face off against the Mizzou Tigers on November 3rd this year. Come show your spirit and support for the Gators during the annual University of Florida Homecoming and Gator Growl!

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Don’t Miss Carson Springs’ Wild Adventure Open House!

September 7th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Carson Springs Wild Adventure Open House 2018If you’re a fan of big cats and wildlife conservation, you won’t want to miss the Carson Springs Wild Adventure Open House on September 29th, 2018.

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation in Gainesville, Florida, currently houses over 70 animals, including 28 rare and endangered species. But make no mistake: Carson Springs is not a zoo but an exotic animal refuge.

Carson Springs was founded in 2003 with a mission to house and rehabilitate abandoned and abused exotic and native animals. What makes their efforts stand out is how their facility goes well beyond the minimum standards set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

You won’t see listless creatures in drab concrete spaces at Carson Springs. Here, all the enclosures are spacious and natural looking with grass, trees, bushes – and a daily cleaning. The animals also receive individual diets specially tailored to their needs. The facility’s efforts have paid off with bright-eyed, active, animals that seem considerably happier than most.

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Florida Racing School – The FIRM Rally & Motorsport

August 31st, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

The FIRM - Florida Racing SchoolIf you’re looking to get into motorsports or are just wanting to get back out onto the track, The FIRM Florida racing school in Starke, Florida has what you’re looking for – and then some!

The Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park (FIRM) is one of the area’s many popular attractions. The North Florida racing school is a motorsports heaven with 6, expert-designed, European-style rally stages with 14 miles of diverse tracks, trails, and road courses.

No wonder The FIRM is known as North Central Florida’s premier action sports facility!

Best of all, it’s less than 15 minutes drive from our North Florida B&B, Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast.

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2018 Florida Gators Football Schedule – Home Game Lodging

August 17th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

2018 Florida Gators Football ScheduleFootball season is right around the corner and the 2018 Florida Gators football schedule is out. If you’re looking for Gators home game lodging for the 2018 season, look no farther than Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast!

Catching these exciting Southeastern Conference games in person is a great experience and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is a great venue. “The Swamp,” as the stadium is also affectionately known, is Florida’s largest stadium. There isn’t a single bad seat in the state-of-the-art facility, though visiting teams know it as one of the toughest college football environments around.

7 of the 13 games in the 2018 Florida Gators football schedule are home games that will be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. September 1st, 8th, 15th, October 6th, November 3rd, 10th, and 17th are all Gators home games. Add in Gator Growl (November 2-8) and you have a whole host of reasons to visit North Central Florida this fall!

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Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park

July 27th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State ParkGold Head Branch State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks. It’s 2,000 acres include sandhills, marshes, ravines, lakes, wildlife, and hiking trails to explore.

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is just 20 minutes away from our North Central Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast. The historic state park is located between Gainesville and Jacksonville, six miles north of Keystone Heights on SR 21.

The park was developed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the first New Deal agency to begin operations in Florida. The CCC constructed a number of parks and facilities throughout Florida during the 1930’s and Gold Head Branch State Park was one of the first. The CCC’s extraordinary craftsmanship is still in evidence in the park today and one reason to visit.

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Discover All the Great Things To Do in Stark FL

July 20th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

People often ask about fun things to do in Stark Fl. Florida being Florida, there’s always something fun nearby to do or see! We hope the short list below will serve as a quick guide to some of the more popular, local favorites.  We look forward to being your North Central Florida base camp and helping you to discover all the area has to offer.

Things to Do in Stark FL

Things To Do In Stark FL - Camp Blanding MusuemCamp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park: A fascinating military museum complete with monuments, exhibits, and military vehicles. The museum and memorial park are located just outside the main gate of the still active National Guard Installation. The building is surrounded by armaments from World War II, including 2 Half-Tracks and a M4 Sherman Tank. Inside, exhibits include artifacts, photographs, weaponry, uniforms, a dog-tag machine and even an entire military Jeep. One exhibit explores the lives of German prisoners held here during WWII. Today Camp Blanding is a joint training site for the National Guard, Reserve, and active duty troops. Read more.

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Discover Beauty at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

June 23rd, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Kanapaha Botanical GardensNo matter whether you’re visiting Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida for the first or hundredth time, there is always something new and beautiful to see!

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens have been attracting nature lovers since opening their doors in 1986 – and no wonder! The lush 62-acres feature a collection of 24 different gardens, including Florida’s largest public bamboo display. Kanapaha is also home to the largest herb garden in the Southeast. Some of the garden’s most popular attractions include the stand of Chinese royal bamboo mentioned above, giant Victoria water lilies, and Asian snake arums.

As you can imagine, the gardens attract a lot of wildlife as well as human visitors. This is especially true in the Water Gardens and, of course, the Hummingbird Garden. Heron, alligator, butterfly, hummingbird, and a great many others enjoy the quiet beauty of Kanapaha Gardens.

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Experience the Santa Fe Zoo in Gainesville Florida

June 15th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Santa Fe Zoo at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FLThe Santa Fe Zoo is a small, AZA-accredited, teaching zoo on the Santa Fe College campus in Gainesville, FL. It is the only college zookeeper training facility in the country with its own AZA-accredited zoo on grounds.

The Santa Fe Zoo may sound like it belongs in New Mexico but no, it’s here in North Central Florida at Gainesville’s Santa Fe College. The facility’s full name is “The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo” and it has been AZA accredited since 2000.

The 10 acre zoo is part of the Santa Fe College campus and home to over 200 animals representing more than 75 species. The zoo is almost completely operated by students, overseen by a small staff.

For many years one could only see the zoo via guided tour appointment. Though tours are still offered (and recommended) they are no longer needed to visit the zoo.

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Starke FL Shopping at The Shoppes at Thompson Street

May 28th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Starke FL Shopping at The Shoppes at Thompson StreetStarke FL shopping really shines at The Shoppes at Thompson Street – a unique collection of shopping and services is located in historic downtown Starke.

If you enjoy unique shopping opportunities, you’ll truly enjoy The Shoppes at Thompson Street. The Shoppes’ offer an eclectic and relaxing atmosphere with a focus on vintage, art, curiosities, jewelry, antiques, essential oils, and crystals. A cutting-edge (no pun intended) hair design studio tops it all off.

The Shoppes convenient location in downtown Starke also puts you within easy reach of a number of good Starke area restaurants. Those who enjoy vintage goods will be happy to read that there are more antiques shops just up the street!

The Shoppes at Thompson St. is an amazing little retreat and one of Starke’s best kept secrets. You’ll leave The Shoppes happy, energized, and most likely with a treasure or two to remember your visit to Starke by.

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Starke Florida Restaurants, Pubs and Bars

May 19th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Starke Florida Restaurants, Pubs and BarsStarke Florida restaurants, pubs and bars, and nearby Waldo establishments are all within 15 minutes of our North Central Florida Inn and offer a wide variety of good food. You can spend a day in nearby Gainesville visiting shops, museums, theaters, and exploring the surrounding area, then head back towards the B&B for a bite to eat in Waldo or Starke.

Back at the Inn and lake you can take a leisurely stroll through the open fields, fish off the pier, or curl up with a good book in the swing. It’s always relaxing to watch the sunset from one of the back porch rocking chairs, or just lounge on the dock.

Starke and nearby Waldo are home to several fast food chain restaurants including: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, Ihop, Hardees and others, but for the purpose of showing our guests what else our area has to offer, we’ll be focusing this post on other dining establishments. Enjoy!

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The Best Public Golf Courses Near Starke, Fl

April 23rd, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Public Golf Courses Near Starke, Fl Looking to get in a game or two of golf during your North Central Florida getaway? Great idea! There are some excellent public golf courses near Starke, FL!

Are you one of those folks who makes time for a round of golf no matter where you are? Is an opportunity to work on your swing one you never miss? If so, you’ll be happy to hear that there is plenty to do in the Starke area – and that includes a wealth of golfing options!

This wide variety of golf courses near Starke means plenty of tee times to fit your schedule. It also means a selection of greens to fit your skill level. While a good many local golf courses are private or semi-private, guests can often play at the club’s discretion.

Below is a short list we’ve compiled for you of the most popular public golf courses near Starke, FL. This should by no means be considered a complete list but, rather, an easy guide of the most popularly-rated, Starke-area golf courses within easy reach of our North Central Florida B&B.

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Bradford Sportsmen’s Farm NWTF Sporting Clays Challenge

April 13th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Bradford Sportsmen’s Farm NWTF Sporting Clays Challenge May 2018Bradford Sportsmen’s Farm is hosting the NWTF Sporting Clays Challenge May 4th through the 6th, 2018. This sporting clay tournament is NSCA registered and will help raise money for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Bradford Sportsmen’s Farm is a family owned shooting facility, located just ten minutes down the road from our North Central Florida B&B, in Graham, FL. Bradford Sportsmen’s Farm hosts NSCA registered sporting clays tournaments each month. They also offer classes, a pro shop, and a club house with refreshments.

The NWTF Sporting Clays Challenge scheduled for May 4th through the 6th, 2018 is a 200-target, sporting clays championship. The event is open to NSCA and Hunter Classes, with 5-stand, sub-gauge, FITASC, Pump, and SXS events. 12 gauge, preliminary.

The shoot will help raise money for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973 with a mission to save the wild turkey and support hunter’s rights using science-based conservation. Attending this shoot is both a vote for conservation AND hunting. A win win, in other words.

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Celebrate Spring at the 2018 Carson Springs Spring Safari!

March 16th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

2018 Carson Springs Spring Safari at Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation in Gainesville, FLCelebrate spring with over 70 different exotic animals at Carson Springs Spring Safari, April 14th, 2018! Tours, warthog races, big cat feedings, great, local food trucks, and more!

If you like animals, you owe it to yourself to visit Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation in Gainesville, Fl.

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is a popular, North Central Florida exotic animal refuge housing over 70 rescued animals. Lions, caracals, hyenas, tortoise, cheetahs, rhinos, warthogs, foxes, and many others.

Unlike a zoo, the animals housed at Carson Springs enjoy thoughtful, spacious, and more natural enclosures. Consequently, visitors to Carson Springs are greeted by a collection of happy, active, and bright-eyed animals.

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation opened in 2003 with a mission to rescue and rehabilitate exotic and native animals. The facility prides itself in going above and beyond the minimum housing standards set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Along with the large, clean, enclosures, the animals also receive carefully monitored, individually tailored diets.

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Here Comes Bradford County Strawberry Festival 2018!

March 9th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

The Bradford County Strawberry Festival 2018Come kick off spring at Bradford County Strawberry Festival 2018! This popular, North Central Florida event is a two-day street festival with great food and fun for everyone – April 7th and 8th in Starke, FL!

Every spring, for the last 20 years, historic, downtown Starke transforms into the Bradford County Strawberry Festival grounds. Bradford Berry and his little buddies, the strawberries of the Bradford County strawberry harvest, come out in force to greet and celebrate with the 12,000+ residents and visitors who attend each year.

The festival celebrates Bradford County’s annual strawberry harvest. Bradford County produces a large amount of the delicious fruit and the festival is our way of giving thanks for the bountiful harvest. Our strawberries are considered especially tasty in these parts, though we may be a touch biased.

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Take A Hike – at Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetlands Park!

February 23rd, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Sweetwater Wetlands ParkSweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, Fl is more than 125 acres of man-made wetland habitat. Designed to improve water quality and act as a wildlife preserve, the park has since become one of North Central Florida’s best birding areas!

Not too long ago, we told you about the amazing wildlife and scenery to be found at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Well, one the reasons Paynes Prairie Preserve is so pristine is due to Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Prior to the creation of Sweetwater Wetlands, the area’s water quality was beginning to suffer. Further, ranchers in the 1930s dug a ditch to drain part of Paynes Prairie in order to expand grazing areas. The ditch they dug fed directly to Alachua Sink and dehydrated more than 1,300 acres of prairie wetlands.

Over the decades, the Alachua Sink, which directly connects to the Floridan Aquifer, built up an excess of nitrogen from all the urban runoff and wastewater. Soon, it was clear something must be done to reverse this damage.

The solution was the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration Project. The project’s mission was to reinvigorate the natural water filtration via the restoration of wetland habitat along the northern rim of Paynes Prairie. At the same time, they created an environmentally friendly park, filled with plants and animals: Sweetwater Wetlands Park!

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Don’t Miss the 2018 NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway!

February 9th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

NHRA Gatornationals 2018One of the North Central Florida’s official first signs of spring is just around the corner: the 2018 NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway are scheduled for March 15th to the 17th, 2018!

2018 sees the 49th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. This traditional, East Coast opener has drawn fans and the world’s best drag racers alike to Gainesville for almost half a century!

And why not?

Who can resist NHRA professional level competition? We are talking 10,000-horsepower, nitro-fueled Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car classes. We’ll also see 200-mph Pro Stock category. Gatornationals is also season opener for the Mello Yello Series Pro Stock Motorcycle and J&A Service Pro Mod categories.

If you like the spectacle fire-breathing, metal machines hurtling down the strip, you don’t want to miss the 2018 NHRA Gatornationals!

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Discover North Central Florida’s Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum!

January 29th, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Wings of Dreams Aviation MuseumWings of Dreams Aviation Museum, at Keystone Heights Airport in Starke, FL, is an aviation enthusiast’s wonderland of historic aircraft, space program artifacts, and military vehicles. Anyone with a fascination for aviation or military vehicles should visit Wings of Dreams!

The varied collection at Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum often surprises visitors. Finding a collection of vintage military vehicles and planes is one thing. Add in space program artifacts, various uniforms, and a host of exhibits and you might think you were at a much larger museum.

In fact, Wings of Dreams has been so successful in its collections that they’re planning a larger facility to accommodate them all. The multi-phase construction plan includes an aircraft restoration facility, along with a library, gift shop, restaurant, and more.

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Step Back In Time At Dudley Farm Historic State Park

January 22nd, 2018 by Corey A Edwards

Dudley Farm Historic State ParkDudley Farm is both a Historic State Park and a working farm in North Central Florida. The 1880’s homestead includes original buildings and staff in period clothing demonstrating the evolution of Florida farming.

The Dudley family moved from Charleston, SC to North Central Florida in the mid-1800s, establishing what we know today as Dudley Farm. In reality, Dudley “farm” was a significant crossroads community. 18 buildings were constructed on the 640-acre property between the 1880s and 1945, including a general store and post office.

Dudley Farm Historic State Park retains 325 of these original 640 acres. The many buildings found here are restored, not recreated. Along with the expected farmhouse, stables, and barns, Dudley Farm also boasted a kitchen outbuilding. Other unique structures on the site include a canning house, a syrup house and mill, dairy shed, and a tobacco barn.

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Explore North Florida’s San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

December 22nd, 2017 by Corey A Edwards

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State ParkNorth Flordia’s San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is more than just a great place to hike, bike, and horseback riding. The park is the site of a historic Spanish mission, limestone sinkholes, and one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is well known for its hiking and mountain biking opportunities. In fact, the park’s 30 miles of bike trails have made it one of Florida’s top mountain biking destinations. But that’s just one tiny aspect of this amazing North Florida park.

What many visitors may not realize is that the park has a long and fascinating history – from the ground up!

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park’s unique karst geology riddles the area with hundreds of limestone pools and sinkholes. Nearby Warren’s Cave provides a dry look under the earth while all the park’s known stone pockets serve as drainage.

This unique karst topography of hills, valleys, and limestone outcrops provides ideal conditions for many species of trees and plants that you’ll not find any farther south. Bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, turkeys, and a variety of songbirds make the park their home. It’s a wonderful place to see and photograph wildlife and wildflowers.

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It’s Time For Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2018

December 15th, 2017 by Corey A Edwards

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2018Don’t miss the 32nd annual return of one of North Florida’s most beloved traditions. Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2018 will be at the Alachua County Fairgrounds January 27th-28th and February 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 2018.

The theme of Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2018 is “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” This year’s events will feature a living chess match between Robin Hood and his Merry Men against Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire offers. 9 stages and a host of wandering performers. Jousting knights, jugglers, falconers, magicians, musicians, belly dancers, and more. Follow the day’s scheduled entertainment or simply play it by ear and enjoy the sights and sounds as they come.

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Visit Camp Blanding Museum

November 24th, 2017 by Corey A Edwards

Camp Blanding MuseumCamp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park, in Starke, FL, is a fascinating military museum complete with monuments, exhibits, and military vehicles from all eras and conflicts.

Camp Blanding is a historic and still active North Florida National Guard installation bustling with activity and troops. Just outside the main gate, however, in a 1940s-era guest barracks, resides Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park.

Camp Blanding Museum traces the history of both Camp Blanding and the Florida National Guard. The two-story building is surrounded by massive armaments from World War II. These include an M3 Half-Track, and an M16 Half-Track, and an M4 Sherman Tank. Wow!

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