Celebrating ‘Ocali’

The annual Ocali Country Days festival brings history to life.

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Posted November 15, 2023 | By Susan Smiley-Height
Photos by Bruce Ackerman

The tree-shaded campus of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center and Pioneer Village, inside Silver Springs State Park, was filled with an estimated 5,000 or so visitors on Nov. 11 and 12 for the annual Ocali Country Days Festival.

According to the city of Ocala’s website, “Ocala’s name comes from the extinct Timucuan tribe who called their village Ocali, commonly thought to mean ‘Big Hammock.’”

The festival offers living history exhibits that highlight life during the 1800s. Over the weekend, volunteers in period costumes showed off the authentic and replica pioneer cabins and Cracker homes on the property, fed livestock, demonstrated blacksmithing and weaving, made cane syrup and even fired up a kiln to bake handmade pottery pieces. The aroma of the cane syrup cooking filled the air, with bottles of freshly made syrup available to take home for a small price. The event also included vendors, food trucks and live entertainment.

The Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center is a program of Marion County Public Schools and is open to the public on weekends.

To learn more, visit silverrivermuseum.com

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