EGMONT KEY – Come to historic Egmont Key State Park on Saturday, Nov. 9 and Sunday, Nov. 10 and “Discover the Island.”
The event is an annual fundraiser for the Egmont Key Alliance, a non-profit citizen support organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and preserving the key, off the northern tip of Anna Maria Island in Tampa Bay.
Egmont Key has been a prison for Seminole Indians and Confederate soldiers, a refuge for runaway slaves, a hideout for bootleggers during Prohibition and a wartime landing field. It’s now a harbor pilot base, a recreational boating destination and a bird, sea turtle and gopher tortoise refuge.
Watch Civil War re-enactors set up camp, demonstrate drilling maneuvers and engage in skirmishes, and see the Spanish-American war exhibit sponsored by the Tampa Rough Riders.
Visit the 1858 working lighthouse, which replaced one built in 1848 that was destroyed by storms. The light, which once ran on whale oil and lard, is now electric. Talk to the lighthouse keeper reenactor, and see an exhibit by the Florida Lighthouse Association and the Anclote Key Lighthouse Group.
Learn about the island’s unique gopher tortoise population from expert Betty Rossie at the Battery Howard. Enjoy a presentation about the sea life around Egmont Key including shorebirds and sea turtles, and see the Boyd Hill birds of prey exhibit. A geocaching exhibit and kids’ fossil pit will be set up at the guardhouse.
Take group or self-guided tours about plants, wildlife, beach dynamics and military history, including the ruins of the U.S. Army Fort Dade Military Reservation and the USS Narcissus, a sunken warship just offshore from the island.
The Egmont Key Shanty Singers will sing folk music, and hot dogs, drinks and souvenirs will be available for purchase.
A presentation, “Remembering the Histories of Egmont Key: The Seminole Experience,” and a silent auction are on Saturday only.
Shuttle ferries will be leaving Fort DeSoto Bay Pier in Tierra Verde in Pinellas County (NOT DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the last ferry leaving Egmont Key at 4 p.m.
Ticket sales open at 8:30 a.m. Boarding begins at 9 a.m. Ferry and admission prices are adults, $25; ages 12-18, $15; ages 6-11, $10; children 5 and under, free.
For more information, visit the Egmont Key Alliance website.