Walton Outdoors would like to take this opportunity to thank the great folks of DeFuniak Springs. Our Explore The Outdoors Festival along Lake DeFuniak on Oct. 11 was a huge success. More than 700 kids and their families enjoyed fishing, paddling, nature-based crafts, wildlife exhibits, nature exhibits, and bluegrass music along beautiful Lake DeFuniak.
To the incredible exhibitors who made the day possible – my hat goes off to you. We would not of been able to pull it off without your participation. Walton Outdoors also gives thanks and gratitude to the tireless volunteers who spent their day pulling it all together. The Walton High School Key Club rocks! You were a great help, and filled with positive energy.
We are also grateful for our sponsors who were a huge part of making the day a success: Gulf Coast Insulation, Preble-Rish, Century Link, Fish Florida, ResortQuest, and Copy Systems.
To the folks at WZEP, and the DeFuniak Herald / Beach Breeze, thank you for supporting our efforts. You were wonderful in helping us get the word out to the community.
Last, and certainly not least, to the City of DeFuniak Springs – thank you for supporting our event and allowing us to host the Explore The Outdoors Festival along the lake. Everyone at City Hall was very supportive. City Works – you were over the top! Thank you Tilman Mears and crew for going the extra mile in preparation for the event. From fixing the dock, to making sure there were fish out there, to lending us tables, chairs, and so much more. You are the best!
Thank you all for believing getting kids outdoors is a good thing.
Highlights from the festival:
• Fishing from the dock with fish pros Carolyn Poole, Warren Sweeney, and David Thompson
• 180 Fish Florida fishing rod giveaways went fast, the kids loved the rods
• Fishing education with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offered great posters and fishing information
• The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife exhibit educated everyone about the native wildlife in Northwest Florida. Kids identified furs, feathers, and more
• Kayaking and canoeing with Snaggy Bend Outfitters had everyone lined up to paddle
• Emerald Coast Hydrobikes offered paddling around the lake, a unique experience all enjoyed
• Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge wildlife exhibit had cool critters on hand
• Birding with the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society and interactive fun with the wingspan banner is always a hit with the kids
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife exhibit
• Wildlife education and interesting critters with E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
• Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Henderson Beach State Park, Rocky Bayou State Park, Camp Helen State Park and Eden Gardens State Park exhibits had a big variety of interesting bones, shells, artifacts, and much more
• Northwest Florida Astronomy club offered peeks at the sun
• Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance touch tank always fun
• Smokey the Bear and his friends from Forestry wowed the crowd
• Deitrich’s Honey Farm offered samples of honey and bee education
• Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute gave a peek into an underwater world
• Boy Scout “Leave No Trace” campsite exhibit educated about doing the right thing when camping
• Tri-County Head Start fun painting crafts were a hit
• Florida Public Archeology Network offered interesting artifacts and education
• Sweet Bay Chapter of the Native Plant Society had kids learning and planting
• Lowe’s was a hit with the wooden craft making for the kids
• Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures brought their air boat and fishing boat
• Live bluegrass music by Dismal Creek was great
• The Big Red Truck and 4C BBQ offered delicious food
A great day of fun was had by all.