Free living history exhibits in DeFuniak Springs, Jan. 24-26

January 13, 2020

Forest Service tree giveaway Jan. 25

Cannon blasts, turpentine demonstrations, native American storytelling, an indoor nature trail, a vintage camper show, a Civil War and Florida Frontiersmen Settlement Camp, Black History presentations, a tree give-away, and many other living history exhibits, demonstrations and presentations will be in full swing Friday, January 24 through Sunday, January 25 at Chipley Park, 3 Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.  These events and parking are free and compliment the activities of the annual, historic Florida Chautauqua Assembly taking place during the weekend.  The free exhibits in Chipley Park are sponsored by the City of DeFuniak Springs.

The Walton Guard’s Civil War Camp and Battle Reenactments return to educate and “wow” visitors of all ages with educational presentations and battle reenactments.  Civil War interpreters will portray life on and off the battlefield Saturday, January 25 at 12:30 while Sunday at 1:30 p.m. the Battle at Eucheanna will be depicted. Sunday’s battle will be the first time in recent history that the essence of this local history will be dramatized.

The Florida Forest Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Indoor Nature Trail, which will be located behind the historic Hall of Brotherhood at 95 Circle Drive, is best known for the interactive nature of their display.  Adults and children will find “things to do” and “places to explore” set up inside the large tent where a contingent of rangers, foresters and 4-H representatives will be on hand with explanations and information about the exhibits.

Interpreters of the Florida Frontiersmen Settlement Camp will depict life on the Florida Frontier in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Visitors spend time looking at the unique collection of quilts, enjoy watching live cooking demonstrations and sometimes even get to taste the delicacies cooked on an open fire.

New to these many free exhibits which families covet from throughout NW Florida is Turpentine Demonstrator Ramsey Kent who will share his knowledge of this industry which was an economic engine for northwest Florida in its early history.  Mr. Ramsey’s demonstrations take place Friday and Saturday, 8am-5pm.

The Walton County Heritage Museum generously invites the public to meander into their building to see the colorful and informative displays explaining the history and founding of the town of DeFuniak Springs and the development of the county on Friday and Saturday.

Visitors walking around Chipley Park will see Plein Air artists dotting the landscape as they choose vignettes to capture on their palettes and can later buy their works of art (still wet) later in the day at a “Wet Paint” sale at nearby Hotel DeFuniak, 400 East Nelson Avenue.

The Tin Can Tourists Vintage Campers will circle the drive with the classic restored campers of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Peeking inside one of these is a trip back in time when the pace of life was slower and more deliberate as families explored America.

A free art show is scheduled a few blocks away from Chipley Park at the DeFuniak Springs Community Center where visitors will enjoy a display of our region’s artistic talent and will learn some techniques from our area’s art experts who will be demonstrating their craft and selling their wares (art, quilts and ceramics) Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Community Center, 361 N. 10th Street.

While many of the exhibits are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Assembly, some events and displays will only be up one day only:

Friday, January 24, 2020 (only): 

  • 8 am-5 pm: The Muscogee Nation will be using storytelling techniques to acquaint visitors with the colorful history of this local tribe and share the exciting developments taking place in 2020 to bring their story to the local area in the form of a permanent museum.
  • 8 am-5 pm:  Presenters of a new exhibit, Florida Public Archaeology out of Pensacola, will be sharing and interpreting local artifacts explaining how shards, bones, buttons, etc. help to explain the history of the area.
  • 8 am-5 pm: The DeFuniak Springs Library will host Maria Milton sharing stories of the civil rights movement of Black Americans on the first floor in the room which overlooks Lake DeFuniak.
  • 10:45 am, Urban Forestry Program Manager William Liner is providing a free seminar, “Tree Care 101” and will discuss tree pruning, maintenance and care as well as how to avoid common tree problems.
  • 1:00 pm, the annual tree planting ceremony commemorating the founding of Florida’s Arbor Day annual celebration at the original Florida Chautauqua Assembly in 1885 takes place to the immediate right of the indoor nature trail at the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood in honor of former Disney Executive Pamela Landwirth who is now president & CEO of a special, whimsical resort for critically ill children called Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida. The public is invited to meet Pam during the brief ceremony.  Mayor Clayton of Give Kids The World is coming, too!  He is the adorable and lovable storybook character at the Village who tucks these special children in at night during their week-long, cost-free vacation at the Village made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other wish-granting organizations.

Saturday, January 25, 2020 (only)

  • 9 am:  Tree give-away by the Florida Forest Service, in front of historic Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, 95 Circle Drive, DeFuniak Springs.  The give-away begins at 9am and lasts until all the trees are gone.  Species include may haw, crabapple, red maple and wild plum.

Full schedule and times at or call (850) 892-7613.  Follow the events on Florida Chautauqua Assembly Facebook page.