UMATILLA — As bear cubs begin to leave their dens to explore the world, celebrate the occasion with the City of Umatilla during the Ninth Annual Florida Black Bear Festival on Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cadwell Park, located at 4 Cassady St. in Umatilla.
The theme for this year's festival is "Living Safely in Bear Country." The one-day educational event is fun for all ages as thousands of Floridians and guests are expected to attend the free bash in honor of the black bear. A popular feature of the festival is the two-hour field trips into the Ocala National Forest bear habitat conducted by the U.S. Forest Service. The field trips are by bus and include a moderate hike to a site where the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists will provide participants with interactive lessons about bear biology, behavior and management.
“The Florida Black Bear Festival is a fun event full of activities, presentations and field trips that provide participants with information about how bears live; bear behavior; how we can avoid attracting them to our homes; and how we can live and recreate in bear country safely” said Susan R. Martin, Executive Director of the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce.
Festival highlights include:
• Music by Ken Skeens, Leigh Goldsmith and The Remnants
• Live animals from the Central Florida Zoological Park
• Authors’ Corner featuring nationally and locally renowned writers
• Presentations offering bear country safety tips and ways residents can co-exist with bears
• Guided field trips into the Ocala National Forest
• Presentations by well-known naturalists, bear experts and authors
• A family activity pavilion, children’s paleontology dig, animal track casting and bear scavenger hunt
The festival is presented by a partnership of Defenders of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, City of Umatilla, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Umatilla Chamber of Commerce and Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club.
For more information about the Ninth Annual Florida Black Bear Festival, call (352) 669-9600 or log on to www.umatillablackbearfestival.org.