by Jennifer Yarbrough
Hidden at a slight bend in the road just passed Roberts Road on SR 13 in Fruit Cove is Lake Beluthahatchee. A small, wooden sign marks the entrance to a pine and oak lined path that leads to the lake and two homes now owned and managed by the St. Johns County Recreation and Parks Department. At the park, one can enjoy folk music in an intimate setting on “Second Sundays,” and can look out at the lake and enjoy the serenity of the natural setting, the cypress knees rising up from the water, the moss blowing in the breeze. The setting is ideal and picturesque, inspirational and relaxing. This place is “Beluthahatchee,” which, according to the well-known and celebrated author, Zora Neale Hurston, means “a Florida Shangri-La, where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten.” This “Florida Shangri-La” was home to Stetson Kennedy, a human rights activist, author, and folklorist who spent his life fighting for people and nature. This place, no doubt, provided respite and inspiration for his writing and his cause. October 5th would be his 100th Birthday, so to honor this event, the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and other groups, are marking the occasion with various events at Beluthatchee and other venues. This is a great time to come out to this beautiful park and to learn about a resident that preserved the stories of the Civil War Era as a worker for the WPA, was friends and colleagues with the likes of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Zora Neale Hurston, and Woody Guthrie, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, and much more! The following events have been planned to celebrate the Stetson Kennedy Centennial. Make it a point to come out, wander the property, listen to the birds, feel the breeze and learn more Kennedy, the history of our area and the history of our country, maybe you will be inspired to act, too!
Every Sunday in October
Beluthahatchee Park will be open to the public from 1pm-4pm. Come view Stetson’s home, as well as another home on the property with educational materials about his life and work. Beluthatchee is located at 1523 SR 13, Fruit Cove, 32259
Stetson’s Centennial Birthday Bash at FSCJ Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts. This event will include a Reader’s Theatre of, “Stetson Kennedy-Man in the Mirror.” Moonshine Punch and heavy hor d’oeuvres will be served and a Silent Auction will be held. Tickets are available at www.stetsonkennedy.com
An Intimate Evening with Billy Bragg and Sarah Guthrie presented by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation at Beluthahatchee. Celebrate Stetson Kennedy and Woody Guthrie where they spent time together with Guthrie’s granddaughter, Sarah Guthrie and singer/songwriter, Billy Bragg performing. Dinner will be prepared by D’Vine Cuisine. For more information on this special event, please visit the Stetson Kennedy Foundation Facebook page, or purchase tickets through EventBrite. 100% of the proceeds benefit the foundation and the continuation of Kennedy’s work for human and environmental rights.
The 20th Annual MagnoliaFest at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre will celebrate Stetson Kennedy’s Centennial. This Americana and Folk music festival will include such acts as JJ Grey & Mofro, The Infamous Stringdusters, Zach Deputy, Billy Bragg, Sarah Lee Guthrie and This Frontier Needs Heroes. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Stetson Kennedy Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.staugustineamphitheatre.com
The monthly “Second Sundays,” concert at Beluthahatchee presented by the North Florida Folk Network, will take place on October 23rd, due to the Stetson Kennedy Centennial celebrations earlier in the month. (It will return to the Second Sunday of each month in Novmeber) Come out to this intimate concert and then tour Kennedy’s property and home on Lake Beluthahatchee. A reservation is required, call (904) 206-8304 and leave a voicemail to reserve your spot. A $10 donation is also required. Beluthatchee is located at 1523 SR 13, Fruit Cove, 32259
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