The Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Festival has grown each of its first three years, but there is something special about this year’s number four.
The event began, in part, as a kickoff to the fundraising effort to construct a sea turtle statute and fountain on Village Drive in Marina Cove.
This year, the statute is up, courtesy of Monumental Fabrication, and will be a showcase for this year’s festival, scheduled for 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET Sunday, June 30.
Sponsored by the Florida Coastal Conservancy and the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, the event will be held in George Core Park and Village Drive.
“This is an education and awareness event,” said Jessica Swindall with the Sea Turtle Center and St. Joseph Peninsula Turtle Patrol. “We want to celebrate (turtles) and raise awareness of their importance.
“We want everybody to understand we all have a part to play in protecting turtles and the environment. While we are out at the beach we need to remember to be mindful there are other critters out there doing important work.”
And, that, provides another reason to celebrate the turtles this year.
Thus far, as of just the first week of June, the six miles of St. Joseph Peninsula have seen 53 nests, a number that is on track with 2016 when the peninsula had well over 200 turtle nests.
“They are sometimes in weird places because there are no dunes, but we are beating 2016 numbers,” Swindall said. “It’s a bumper crop so far so that’s another reason to celebrate.”
There is also a new home for the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, which moved from a tiny room in George Core Park to a spacious building on 10th Street near the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society.
This year’s festival will include live music: Rick Wilson, Country Outlaw from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET and the Common ‘Taters and the Turn-ups from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
Gulf Specimen Lab will have their Sea Mobile with touch tanks for the kids and there will be turtle talks, educational displays, arts and crafts, activities for the kids and giveaways, Swindall said.
The festival is free to attendees and all proceeds benefit the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center.
And as demonstrated last year, when rain fell all day but did not dampen attendance, the festival will go off rain or shine.