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Palatka sinkhole, crabs take back seat to 68th Florida Azalea Festival

Seasoned Greater Jacksonvillagers™ know that Palatka has two big things – the famous sinkhole that is Ravine Gardens State Park and the Memorial Day blue crab festival.

Southerners love their azaleas, too, so not so surprisingly the Florida Azalea Festival is one of the oldest festivals in the state.
Courtesy of the 68th Florida Azalea Festival

This is bigger than both.

The 68th Florida Azalea Festival opens Saturday.

So what’s the big deal about azaleas?

For Southerners, mostly it’s that they’re so pretty.

In fact, except for magnolias and honeysuckle, you almost can’t find a flower more typical of the south and Florida.

And azaleas only bloom in March and April, so it’s easy to plan a big party around them – and the pinks and oranges whites are stunning. There are almost too many to see.

Southerners love their azaleas, too, so not so surprisingly the Florida Azalea Festival is one of the oldest festivals in the state.

Don’t miss the 18th Annual Azalea Days at the Ravine

Now part of the Azalea Festival is Azalea Days at Ravine Gardens State Park, convenient to downtown Palatka (1600 Twigg) Sat., Mar. 1, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. Mar. 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

With over 100,000 blooms, it has one of the biggest displays of azaleas in the state.

For the $5-per-carload park admission, visitors can take a wagon ride around the rim of the ravine and learn more about the history of the park while enjoying not just azaleas but dogwood and camellias as well.

Dating back to the 1930s, Ravine Gardens played a very important role in the economic recovery of Palatka.

Today Azalea Days brings more of the Azalea Festival proper into the park with food and craft booths, live music, original artwork in the Civic Center and visits by the Misses Azalea and their courts.

More about the Florida Azalea Festival

The festival is sponsored by the City of Palatka and the Palatka Main Street project and offers the following entertainments:

  • Azalea Shriner’s Parade
  • Azalea Bowling Tournament – $20 fee, 9-pin no tap
  • Antique Automobile Club of America Open Car Show – $20 entry fee
  • Motorcycle Drill Team
  • Paddle & Peddle Poker Runs
  • Rat Island Yacht Club Sailing Regatta
  • Kids’ Activities
  • Live Entertainment

A Florida non-profit corporation, Palatka Main Street’s mission is to “enhance and promote the vitality and historic charm of downtown Palatka to the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens of Putnam County.”

Plus they got more azaleas than the Masters in Augusta.

68th Annual Florida Azalea Festival

  • Sat., Mar. 1, 8 a.m.-6 p.m & Sun., Mar. 2, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Admission: FREE & open to the public, FREE parking
  • Ravine Gardens State Park & downtown Palatka, Fla.
  • Contact: Sam Deputy, Chair
  • Phone: 386-312-6266
  • Email:


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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact:

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