The Florida Manatee Festival returns to downtown Crystal River on Saturday and Sunday, January 13 & 14. Produced by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Crystal River Rotary, the festival is presented by Suncoast Credit Union.
The Florida Manatee Festival is consistently rated year after year by attendees as the best outdoor event in Citrus County. The 2018 festival will certainly continue that tradition with the return of many favorite attractions, along with some exciting new ones!
The Tiny House movement has been taking the nation by storm over the last few years as many people seek to live more simply, affordably, and with a smaller ecological footprint. The Florida Manatee Festival will have several tiny houses – ones that people are actually living in – on display around and behind Heritage Village on N. Citrus Avenue. Take a look and see if a tiny house could be in your future!
Also new around Heritage Village is a Vintage Faire with vintage goods, as well as demonstrations of vintage chic painting and stained-glass techniques.
Returning again are the FREE shuttles and entry to Three Sisters Springs from the festival sponsored by the Friends of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and U.S. Fish & Wildlife. This is a great opportunity to view manatees from the boardwalk surrounding the springs, as well as wander the new wetlands area that has become home to hundreds of migrating birds.
Or would you prefer to see manatees and birds from Kings Bay? For a nominal fee, you may take a half-hour boat ride around the bay that leaves from Waterfront Park at the south end of downtown.
Musical entertainment will be ongoing both days from two stages. The Main Stage at Waterfront Park will feature the JoJo Jones Band on Saturday, followed by headliner Heavy Petty, Gainesville’s #1 Tom Petty tribute band. Sunday’s entertainment will feature Barefoot Bob and The Hope from St. Petersburg.
The Gazebo Acoustic Stage at Little Springs Park is the location for mellow listening pleasure. On Saturday, Madi Carr, a young Crystal River native now living in Jacksonville, will return to her roots with folk-rock originals and cover tunes. Later Saturday, Jeff Jarrett takes the stage with a mix of today’s hits and yesterday’s favorites. On Sunday, welcome O-Sky, a 15-year-old singer/songwriter from Orlando whose songs reflect a positive message and are enjoyed by all ages. The afternoon features Captain KeyLime, mixing it up with songs from Jimmy Buffett to the Beatles with some favorite country tunes woven into the mix.
Additionally, more than 200 fine art, craft, commercial and non-profit vendors will line the streets on both the north and south sides of downtown. A Kidz Zone will dominate the corner of US Hwy 19 and Citrus Ave. with fabulous inflatables, costumed characters, face painting and more.
And of course, there will be food, along with beer and wine gardens near both music stages and throughout the festival. With something to please everyone, there will be no need to go hungry!
What: 31st Annual Florida Manatee Festival
When: Saturday, Jan. 13, 9 am – 5 pm; and Sunday, Jan. 14, 9 am – 4 pm
Cost: $5 per person, age 12 and under free
Where: Downtown Crystal River, at the intersection of Citrus Avenue and U.S. 19, stretching up through the shops and restaurants of Heritage Village and surrounding areas, down to the waterside area along Kings Bay.
Parking: Free parking at the Crystal River Mall at 1801 NW U.S. 19 (approximately one mile north of the event) with free shuttle buses to the event. There is limited street and handicap parking available.
Boat Tours: Local boat captains will offer boat tours on a first-come basis. Tickets are available for $10 for adults; $5 for children 6 – 12 years old; and children 5 and under free. The tickets are good only on the date purchased and are sold at the boat dock area near Northwest Third Street (Kings Bay Park).
Three Sisters Springs: Free shuttles will transport visitors to Three Sisters Springs from the bus stop on Northeast Fifth Street.
Chamber phone: 352-795-3149