Nature & Heritage Events

Morningside has a new phone number: 352-393-8240. Please note, pets are not allowed in the park.

Native Plant Sale

Take advantage of a wide offering of native north Florida plants during the annual Fall Native Plant Sale. Native plants are adapted to drought and the heat, which helps reduce water consumption from irrigation, require less upkeep and help save money. The Native Plant Sale is at Morningside Nature Center Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and is open to the public.

The Native Plant Sale features beautiful native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, ferns, grasses and vines grown at area nurseries. Vendors are members of the Florida Native Plant Society, and certify that plants are nursery propagated and grown.

Two hours of power-shopping at an exclusive member’s only sale is Friday, October 18, 2019 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for members of the Friends of Nature Parks (FNP), the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), and Alachua Audubon Society. It’s easy to join in person or online, and memberships are available at the gate. Cash, checks and debit/credit cards are accepted.

To learn about or join the www.friendsofnatureparks.org. To learn about or join http://paynesprairie.fnpschapters.org/. To learn about or join the Alachua Audubon Society

The sale is hosted cooperatively by the City of Gainesville's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the Friends of Nature Parks (FNP) and Paynes Prairie chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS).


Old Florida Seed and Story Swap

Join us at Morningside Nature Center’s Living History Farm for the Spring Old Florida Seed and Story Swap Saturday October 5th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, in partnership in partnership with Working Food (www.workingfood.org ).

Help us preserve our precious agricultural heritage, and diversify your own garden by bringing your seeds to swap with others in our gardening community.

 Please, no live plants, seeds older than five years or seeds from invasive exotics. No seeds to swap? Come on down anyway and meet fellow gardeners, while enjoying Morningside’s historic farm.


Take a walk on the wildflower side!

Participants will enjoy the spectacular fall wildflower bloom in the piney woods of Morningside Nature Center during a guided walk. The Jean Dorney Memorial Wildflower Walks are free and take place every Saturday in October and start at 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Morningside Nature Center, from the education building. Wear comfortable walking shoes; bring water and field guides you would like to use. These walks are courtesy of a grant from the Friends of Nature Parks in honor of charter member Jean Dorney. 

Jean, a Texas native, moved her family to Gainesville in 1972. She quickly became involved with the Alachua Audubon Society and was a founding member of Friends of Nature Parks. Through the years, Jean was an active advocate of adult education programs at the nature parks and participated in many wildflower walks and natural history classes. For more information about attending the walks and exploring the natural parks as Jean loved to do, please visit Friends of Nature Parks (FoNP) page or call 352-393-8240. 


Cane Boil & FiddleFest

Free admission! Held every November on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Celebrate Bygone American Traditions at Cane Boil & FiddleFest on
Saturday Nov. 30, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Enrich your Thanksgiving holidays with merriment among the piney woods of Morningside Nature Center at the annual Cane Boil & FiddleFest!

The Cane Boil & FiddleFest continues the age-old traditions of celebrating the fall harvest and live home-spun music. Be transported to bygone days by the rustic setting of Morningside’s Living History Farm. Hear the enchanting sounds of the youth fiddle contest as they twine through the pines and across the meadow to the kettle where sugar cane juice is boiling down into our yearly supply of sweet, rich cane syrup! Other old-timey musicians will join in the melodies all day as visitors watch demonstrations of historic skills, shop our vendor’s wares and join in traditional games and crafts. Don’t forget to visit the log cabin and talk to our historic interpreters as they go about a day in the life of 1870. 

The festival is presented admission-free by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department and the Friends of Nature Parks (FoNP).

The Longleaf Pine Youth Fiddle Contest portion of the Cane Boil is for musicians 18-years-old and younger who may enter in one of three age group divisions:
• Sprout Division
(beginner to nine years-old)
• Seedling Division (10-13 years-old)
• Sapling Division (advanced or age 14-18)

  1. Please read all the contest’s rules thoroughly before arriving.
  2. Please pre-register.
  3. Online: download the registration form https://tinyurl.com/2019FiddleFest and email completed forms to info@FriendsOfNatureParks.org by Wednesday, Nov. 21.
  4. In person: on-site the morning of Saturday, Nov 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  5. Check-in: at the Living History Farm’s Schoolhouse on Saturday, Nov 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The contest starts at 10 a.m. and ends at noon with the judging and presentation of prizes, awarded to first, second, third place winners and runners-up in each of the three divisions will conclude the contest. 
  6. Questions? Please call us at 352-393-8240.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon as local talented musicians accompany your exploration as you sample fresh cane syrup and biscuits, experience cane grinding and mid to late nineteenth century traditional skills demonstrations, and live historic-breed farm animals. Make this event part of your Thanksgiving weekend tradition! Bring your out-of-town guests, local relatives, friends and family for a taste — literally! — of old-time Florida (ca. 1870) as the sugar cane boils into syrup and the musicians play their foot-tapping, hand-clapping best!
Lots to see and do from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yeehaw — see you there!

Morningside Nature Center is located at 3540 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32641, approximately three miles east of downtown Gainesville. Please note, pets are not allowed in the park. To learn more about the Friends of Nature Parks (FoNP).

Plan to round out your holiday weekend with a relaxing and enjoyable day at Cane Boil & FiddleFest! 

For media inquiries and interviews, please contact Linda Demetropoulos, nature operations manager, at 352-393-8445 or demetropls@cityofgainesville.org.

Learn more about the Friends of Nature Parks.

Thank you to WCJB for the great PSA video!


The Great Invader Raider Rally 

This year the Great Invader Raider Rally will take place Saturday, January 18, 2020. 
Registrations will be available after December 1, 2019 and are required for this event.

Be a part of this annual tradition to remove invasive plant species from our natural areas! 
Under trained leadership, volunteers will work to restore preassigned natural areas from 9-11 a.m. and then are invited to head to Morningside Nature Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a celebration which includes music, t-shirts, prizes, environmental booths and games and food.
Online registrations are required to participate in this event.

You may also visit the Gainesville Greenway Challenge page to find out how you can help our natural areas year-round!