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ROAD TRIP!: 14th Annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival, Sopchoppy, Fla.

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Deep in the heart of the Apalachicola National Forest 45 minutes southwest of Tallahassee, you’ll find tiny Sopchoppy, Fla., population about 460.

Founded in 1894 when the CT&G Railroad Company needed a company town next to their newly-laid tracks by the Sopchoppy River, Sopchoppy is still home to hardy pioneers and other outdoor enthusiasts have called Sopchoppy home.

There’s always been plenty to do and see in around Sopchoppy. The area boasts these national and state designations:

Sopchoppy on TV

Sopchoppy was a tourist mecca years before ‘Dirty Jobs’ blew through, and it took the locals about two days to convince host Mike Rowe that worm grunting is an actual job and not just some weird hobby.

Yes, sports fans, there’s such a thing as “worm grunting,” and, like gathering bloodworms in Maine, people to it for a living by selling their free-range worms (no ranched worms allowed) for bait.

And there’s even hard science behind worm grunting.

Hence the annual Worming Grunting Festival

Billed as the earthworm capital of the world, Sopchoppy celebrates its good fortune with an annual festival devoted to all things earthworm.

Saturday – the 14th Annual Worm Grunting Festival – is your chance to find out how a piece of board, a 10-pound steel bar and some elbow grease can call worms to the surface, sometimes at the rate of 1,000 worms an hour.

Trust Your Examiner – there are not many places, not even in Florida, where you can start your day with a quick 5K, enjoy fresh food and live entertainment and a worm-grunting contest, much less witness a worm festival beauty pageant and cap off your evening at a ball.

Here’s a run down:

  • 10 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies
  • 10:15 a.m. – Worm Gruntin' Demonstration with Gary Revell, Professional Bait Harvester & erstwhile TV star
  • 10:30 a.m. – Worm Gruntin' Contest (Children 12 or under) – CASH PRIZES
  • Noon – Crowning of the Worm Grunters' King and/or Queen
  • 2 p.m. – Worm Grunters' Horseshoe Championship – CASH PRIZES
  • 2:30 p.m. – Bait Casting Contest
  • 3:30 p.m. – Hula Hoop Contest
  • 6 -10 p.m. – Worm Grunter's Ball – Please bring a blanket & a chair

Combine all this free, fun Florida weirdness with over 90 vendors, live music and games all day and a really cool festival t-shirts ever, and you have one of the year’s best entertainment values.

How to get to Sopchoppy: Take I-10 West to Lake City, then take US 98 west and follow the signs. Distance about 195 miles, drive time about 3:22.

About the Sopchoppy Preservation & Improvement Association

The annual worm grunting festival is a joint project of the City of Sopchoppy and the Sopchoppy Preservation & Improvement Association, dedicated to preserving the easy life style of the area and fostering economic opportunity while respecting social, cultural, historic and natural values and quality of life.

The SPIA’s biggest fundraiser is the annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival.

14th Annual Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival

  • Sat., Apr. 12, 7:30 a.m. (Run with the Worms 5K)-10 p.m. Street and lot parking available
  • Admission: FREE & open to the public
  • 64 Winthrop Ave.
  • Sopchoppy, Fla. 32358
  • Contact: Bill Lowrie
  • Email: billlowrie@embarqmail.com

www.wormgruntinfestival.com/

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©2014 All rights reserved.

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: kt.4examiner@yahoo.com

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