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2020’s Top 6 NatureCoaster Stories – and our Award Winners

By Diane Bedard Posted on December 31, 2020

2020 started off with a bang in Florida’s Nature Coast – the Manatee Festival, the Kumquat Festival, the Brooksville Raid, Blues & BBQ Festival, the Floral City Strawberry Festival – and NatureCoaster helped promote them all.

Then rumblings about a virus from afar came into our beautiful area, taking with it our opportunities for safe social interaction. We were able to enjoy one last festival – Art in the Park – and then everything we knew changed!

Most publications are waxing poetic about America’s lockdowns and family time, so we will spare you the paragraphs. As we analyzed our last 12 months of features, we realized that we have done quite a bit of philosophical writing in 2020.

A vaccine is being delivered to the Nature Coast as we write and will be administered to health care workers, the elderly, the infirm and the common man throughout the coming months. Hold on – the best is yet to come!

NatureCoaster’s most popular Stories in 2020

Most festivals held in this area are put on to raise funds for local charities, which leads to the logical conclusion that charities need our help more than ever. If you can, please give!

For the last day of 2020, we offer you the six most popular features we ran.

2020 kumquat festival
The Annual Kumquat Festival is sponsored by many large, medium, and small organizations in the Dade City area. Sponsors often have large vendor spaces and offer freebies and information to Annual Kumquat Festival guests.

#1 The Insiders Guide to the Kumquat Festival

This family-friendly alternative to Gasparilla fills downtown Dade City with vendors, activities, huge car show, and more. Until 2021, twenty-four Kumquat Festivals have been held on the last weekend of January, but this year it has been moved to March 27. Read More…

The Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Park was once part of a thriving sugar plantation owned by Florida’s first State Senator, David Levy Yulee.

#2 History of the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins

Florida’s Nature Coast is rich with history, from the earliest known aboriginal inhabitants who settled near our rivers and springs 14,000 years ago, to the colonization by the Spanish in the 16th century, to the Civil War and beyond into the 20th and 21st centuries.
Throughout Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus Counties many links to this history remain, and one such gateway to the past are the ruins of the Yulee Sugar Mill in Homosassa. Read More…

american alligator rules
American Alligator Image by Sally White

#3 Heading Outdoors? Be Alligator Aware

Your desire to continue the isolation trend may find you hiking, biking, or paddling to places for a solo adventure on the Nature Coast, or elsewhere in Florida, but be aware – you may not be alone.

You’ve seen videos of huge alligators roaming golf courses, stopping hikers on trails, and even snarling up traffic in cities as they cross busy roads. This is Florida and to see an alligator where you least suspect, is far from unusual. Read More…

Beautiful West Pasco County sunset behind a historic stilt house. Image courtesy of Pasco Tourism Development.
Beautiful West Pasco County sunset behind a historic stilt house. Image courtesy of Pasco Tourism Development.

#4 Pasco’s Stilt Houses: Their Past, Present and Future

On a recent visit to Port Richey, I enjoyed a charter up the Pithlachascotee River (called the “Cotee” by locals) from Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey and then out about a mile into the Gulf of Mexico where I was greeted by houses on stilts! Read More…

tropical vibe at crumps landing
Sleepy Old Homosassa is vibrant with development that keeps its roots in this picturesque fishing village. Image by Diane Bedard.

#5 Homosassa’s Riverfront Revival

With a world-renown fishing reputation, Old Homosassa has been a favorite vacation spot since the 1800s. Resorts and RV parks spring up over the years, but Homosassa has always remained true to its roots with the strong sense of a community that has grown up along river.
New vibes are infiltrating the waterfront on both sides of Homosassa’s bountiful River. Foodies can rejoice. Begin planning your overnight stay to indulge in fresh seafood, live music, and beachfront parties along Halls River Road and South Boulevard. Read More…

Florida’s Mermaid Trail is a great outdoor activity for families and more. Image by Diane Bedard.

#6 Mermaids move to Brooksville to Create the Florida Mermaid Trail

On February 29, 2020, twenty-one mermaids “ventured outside the pristine waters of Weeki Wachee to visit Hernando County’s historic city of Brooksville.” according to the Florida Mermaid Trail website.

Each mermaid has been captured in a bronze statue and now lives with its image mounted on buildings located along the Florida Mermaid Trail, along with their name and story explaining why they chose their new residence. Read More…

NatureCoaster earned Writer Awards in 2020

Some of our 2019 stories won awards from the Florida Outdoor Writer’s Association Excellence-in-Craft Awards and we are very happy to continue bringing you award-winning stories.

Beautiful swallowtail butterfly drinking from a native flower. Image by Pat Oberti Manfredo.

Nature Coast Butterfly Season is Back won First Place in the Conservation category!

Butterfly season is upon us! I absolutely love September’s fluttering wings, with pairs of dancing Lepidoptera all around. Butterflies are very common on Florida’s Nature Coast, with nearly 200 species living in or traveling through the Sunshine State. Read More…

today's catch
Look at all our fish! Image by Captain William Toney.

You Need to Experience a Shore Lunch won Third Place in the Family Participation in the Outdoors Category

“Members of the Homosassa Guides Association have been doing shore lunches since the 1940s at least,” says Captain William Toney, a fourth-generation Homosassa fishing guide, while we are waiting for the skies over the Homosassa River to clear up. Read More…

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