Saturday, May 16, 2020

Mid February 2020: The Knap In

Posted: May 16, 2020                                               Recent Posts:
About: February 2020                         Silver Springs Unlevel but a Fantastic River   
Silver Springs State Park               Late January: From Oscar to Myakka and Back

Without my Valentine, I skipped February 14.  Outside it was dismal and drizzly and that seemed pretty appropriate so I stayed inside and got shut out of campsite spots for next winter, read and worked on catching up the blog which I’m still doing.

IMG_20200215_123524266_HDROn Saturday February 15 the Silver River Museum within the park hosted  the annual Knap In.  Actually the full title is Silver River Knap In and Stone Age Arts Festival.  How’s that for something unique?

The museum is both a museum and an environmental educational learning center for the county schools.  During the week, school field trips come to learn about the
the cultural and natural history of Marion County, and the importance of protecting and conserving cultural and natural resources.  They also provide pontoon boat educational classes on the Silver River that launch from this dock which I paddle by on my way to the head springs from the park and often hike to on the Swamp Trail.

I sometimes see the pontoon coming down from to the dock to pick up the children.  I try not to be on the trail when the group is coming or going to the dock.  They are VERY noisy!

IMG_20200215_124615855_HDRThe complex consists of the museum and classroom buildings, a lunch pavilion, research library, a late 1800’s Pioneer “Cracker” Settlement whose buildings were moved from other parts of the county,  as was a circa 1930 one-room schoolhouse used by African-American students during segregation.  Recently they added wood-fired pottery kiln and two log cabins are scheduled to be constructed.   It has been fun to watch this museum grow during the years I’ve been coming to the park.



IMG_20200215_124734050_HDRFlint knapping is the art of making stone tools by controlling how stone breaks in order to create specific shapes and sharp edges. Arrow and spear points, knives, axes, scrapers, drill bits and a variety of other tools can be made from flint (also called chert) by removing portions of the stone through various techniques. Before metal working was developed, this craft was extremely important.  Obviously much of this festival is Native American arts. You can try your hand, watch the experts at work, attend a demonstration and buy any variety of things.



Many of the wares are unbelievably beautiful and expensive.  These of course are not artifacts but made by crafters using the old ways.





In additon to expert flint knappers, archeologists, canoe makers, potters, hide tanners, bow makers and other specialists in prehistoric skills are here from across the eastern U.S. to demonstrate and sell their arts. Vendors offer reproduction stone tools, raw stone, flint knapping tools as well as unique crafts.

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The festival  goes on for both days of the week-end. There are archery, tomahawk and atlatl dart throwing demonstrations each day. Along with free try it yourself for each of them.  It was fun watching folks try the throwing.  There were lines and not only children but adults as well.  I didn’t realize until now that all my pictures were of young people and I had none of the unique atlatl.


I wonder if I could even hit the target or if I’d just slice up the sheet



A flint knapping competition and on-going prehistoric skills demonstrations also take place.  One of the first things I did was attend a talk about Seminole Canoe Making given by a traditional Seminole. 


Later in the day, I saw him at a canoe he was working on.  He was showing what he was doing.  There were too many people to get a photograph that showed the entire length of the long canoe or that didn’t have one person or another in the way.  Another Native American was working beside him on smaller pieces.  In his hand he shows the tool used to hand scrape out the wood.  He explains that originally strong shells were used but metal tools arrived with the Europeans.



Nearby structures from a Seminole Village were set up.  The Chickees I know are Seminole but the beautiful Teepee is actually a western planes home.


The couple who were selling and demonstrating Native American Flutes set up teepees to live and sleep in during the Knap In.


Inside the teepees were warm and cozy with skins and blankets to sleep on.  Since they were at their booth and could not give me permission, I took no pictures inside.


The Teepee owner demonstrating her wares.


Among the most unique things I saw was the woman with the tent from Ambassadors of Nature who held an Opossum while she talked about their benefits around your home. They eat cockroaches and ticks for one and rats,

IMG_20200215_123327613_HDRC mice and snakes for another.  I remember we often had possums in our grape arbor.  Of course they are nocternal and one night I went out through the arbor and out the gate at its end to our compost pile.  Coming back through the dark arbor there were eyes shining above me.  Scared me to death so I went in and got a red flashlight which enabled me to see who was there but not blind the creature.  He stayed, I went and tried not to have to go out to the arbor after dark again.  There were plenty of grapes for us both.  Not sure I’d want to hold one though.  They too are might prehistoric having been alive in the time of the dinosaurs.

IMG_20200215_134105278Toward the end of my trip around the grounds I ran into the Forge in operation as well as the relatively new Kiln being made ready for firing.  Neither of these would really qualify for the subtitle of the Knap In which is “Stone Tool Making and Prehistoric Arts” Festival”.  They aren’t ancient but perhaps this is how the metal canoe carving tools were made back in the day.  Native pottery was often fired in the ground rather than in something like this.


Admission is $6 even if you are camping in the park. I made some bad decisions only going one day and not having my “good camera”   It’s much easier not to make people uncomfortable taking pictures with a phone is my excuse.

That’s a shame since I just learned that the Knap In is moving to Love Mounds Archeological Park in Tallahassee for 2021.  Not sure why.  It’s been at Silver River for years.  Bummer, since it’s being held on the week-end of February 26 2021 and I have reservations to be at Silver River then.  Color me disappointed.

I’ll leave you with some inspiration from one of the tables. I could use a lot of these thoughts (give, trust, relax, hope, enjoy, remember, dream, love, dance, grace, forgive, embrace, smile, blessed, live, accept, laugh, courage, faith, love, joy, believe, happy) but at $12 each, I resist the temptation.

My last kayaking adventures here before moving East and into March are coming up next.



  1. What a wonderful festival! We went to a Knap Fest back in 2014 at Ocklockonee River State Park and had a great time. I'd like to go again, so knowing that there will be a festival in Tallahassee in 2021, we might just make it. Because, as you know, with the way things are going, we might very well still be here in the Panhandle. I'd like to see the Seminole canoe. Your photos are great!

    I would be startled to have eyes shining at me in the dark from a grape arbor, too. It's cool to know that oppossums are so beneficial. I would never have guessed that they eat bugs.

    1. It was a very interesting festival Laurel. Do go if you get a chance.

  2. Really interesting. I had no idea there were festivals like this going on. I guess there are all kinds of little festivals and activities that people are interested in. Usually more fun than bigcrowded festivals. Guess that was just before Corona really hit. So sad we can't get together for stuff like that now.

    1. Unfortunately no festivals now and I wonder for how long. This was in February. Sorry I'm so far behind but putting these blogs together at least remind me of fun times in the past.

  3. WOW...lots of interesting things. So much to learn about, thanks for sharing. Beautiful beads...maybe just a couple???

    1. There was such a wide variety of arts there. Wish you had been there with me.

  4. The TiPi etiquette is interesting-

    1. Yes I thought so too although the Tipi isn't a Florida thing.
      Seminole homes were called Chickees which were those thatched pole buildings in one of the pictures. Always made me wonder what they did about mosquitoes with only a roof over their heads.

  5. What an interesting place to learn about the past. Too bad they're moving it to another venue.

    1. I was really sorry to learn that Laurie since I think my reservations for next year are about the same time as this year so I could have seen it again. That's assuming that winter Florida State Park reservations aren't cancelled. Ugggg

  6. Looking at the beads (give, trust, relax, etc.) I tried to think of three that I would buy if I had the chance. Couldn't come up with three - I had have to buy all or none at all!

    1. Yes, I thought the same thing. No way to choose just one.

  7. The arrow heads and spears are beautifully done, and I'm a sucker for pottery so I know I would have had to buy something. Very interesting gathering

    1. The arrowheads were very beautiful both the ones highly polished and those just being made which was interesting to watch.

  8. Great show of the events that seem to happen all over Florida. We just saw a few this last winter. I was so thankful for all the people who keep the skills and show up to educate people about what happened in the past on the land they walk. Again great pics.

    1. I couldn't agree more with your gratitude to those who continue to keep alive the crafts of the past.

  9. This was so interesting, Sherry. If we can't travel this summer, we can at least enjoy reading about others' travels. I now have a real feel for what this festival is like. I think I told you about the Santa Fe Indian Market we happened upon 4 years ago. It was fascinating, and all items were certified as native crafted. There were 900 vendors selling beautiful crafts. One could spend a lot of money there. I only spent a little bit, but I still long for a bracelet that I thought was too expensive. I doubt if they will have the fair this year - been going on since 1922 - but I do plan to return. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I've done the same thing, passed up something I really liked as being too expensive and regretted it ever after.

  10. Having attended the Santa Fe Market in 2003, I've always wanted to return. I still have the hat I bought there that year!

    Looks like it will be "virtual" this year.

    Virtual hugs,


    1. Looks like that's two votes in a row for the Santa Fe market. I hope to be able to get there. We didn't get to do as much traveling out west as we would have wanted to because David's main treatment was in Florida. Thanks so much for the link.

  11. That was really cool seeing the demonstrations of techniques of days gone by. I love history and seeing this is great for understanding how our ancestors survived and thrived. I've hunted for arrowheads for years and never found one, so I'd have been tempted to buy some of the ones they had on sale. Of course I wouldn't say I bought it... ;c)

    1. There's definitely a ton of history in this country to experience if one has the time. You better pick an unpolished arrowhead if you want to pass it off as your own. There were some beautiful ones that I saw but they were highly polished.

  12. The festival looks really interesting. I love events like that. I too like the beads, but would struggle to choose which ones to buy!

  13. It was really interesting Michele and I solved the problem of not knowing which one to choose by not buying any.

  14. That's the kind of festival I could get in to. I have several friends who knap and a small collection of their work. The atlatl is difficult to throw.

  15. Great pictures even without your good camera. A very neat festival indeed - such amazing art and talents. Those canoes are beautiful.

  16. I'm committed to reading and commenting on all the post I've missed! When I win the lottery I want to spend my money on wonderful artisan pieces like these - all so beautiful. I love seeing how things are made and would love this festival. Finding and attending this kind of event is on my list of ways to change our future travels. Getting to travel is now on the top of the new list :-( Thanks so much for the great pics and descriptions.


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