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  • The Frolic
  • Historical Reenactors
  • Music
  • On Display
  • Pride of Palatka Riverboat Tours
  • Food and Drink
  • Art Shows

In the fall of 1774 William Bartram experienced what is known as the Indian Frolic at Spalding’s Lower Store. His 9-month stay on his favorite river in Putnam County is documented in Bartram’s masterpiece TRAVELS. The annual St. Johns River Bartram Frolic on Palatka’s riverfront will celebrate our National Heritage River, the Bartram National Recreation Trail in Putnam County, and offer our county as a historic eco-tourism and recreation destination.

William Bartram will be portrayed the entire weekend. The featured activity on the riverfront will be the presence of historical reenactors – Seminole/Muskogee Creek Native American tribe, European traders, British Red Coats, and characters from the original frolic. Visitors can talk to and learn from the real thing. The time period recreated is 1760-1776. His ‘bark’ the Puc-Puggy will be in town for the weekend. A full-sized chickee will be reconstructed on the riverfront as detailed in TRAVELS. The reenactors will be available from 10- 5 on Saturday and 12:00 – 4:00 on Sunday

  • Deep Forest Historical Native American Programs – Jim Sawgrass website
  • William Bartram
  • Others

There will be music for your listening pleasure on Saturday September, 30th at the St. Johns River Bartram Frolic at the amphitheater on the beautiful banks of the St. Johns River in Palatka. Come enjoy some of the best folk music around. The Arts Council of Greater Palatka invites you to check back on the music schedule as we get closer to the event date. Music will be from 12:00PM - 4:00PM we look forward to seeing you there.

  • Chuck Hardwicke and Hart Line band
  • Bartram Band with Linda Crider, John Allison
  • Bill Snyder & Hari Buffalo
  • Sam Wimberly and "band"
  • Saturday from 12:00-5:00 PM Music at the amphitheater.

Nature-based vendors will offer displays, demonstrations and wares on the riverfront. Non-profits such as the St. Johns Riverkeeper, FWC, Florida Park Service, St. Johns River Water Management District, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Public Archaeology Network, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, the Bartram Trail Conference, and Putnam Blueways & Trails will be available. Nature-based vendors will be on the river such as artists, farmers’ market, woodworking, native plant nurseries, and trail-use equipment.

The Pride of Palatka II operated by the Palatka Boathouse Marina will offer guided riverboat tours several times during the festival. A two hour cruise on the St. Johns River will feature historic and Bartram Trail sites. A sunset wine cruise is planned for Saturday.

  • SAT 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM Pride of Palatka Bartram River Boat Tour →40
  • SAT 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Pride of Palatka Bartram River Boat Tour →40
  • SAT 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Pride of Palatka Bartram Sunset Wine Cruise →35
  • SUN 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Pride of Palatka Bartram River Boat Tour →40


Putnam County’s civic clubs will offer their best for everyone’s pleasure. Burgers, fish, fries, cold beverages, ice cream, corndogs, ribs, bar-b-que are there for the hungry.

The Arts Council of Greater Palatka will host the high-resolution actual size prints of 21 Bartram drawings provided to the County by the Natural History Museum of London. The Art Show is being held at the Art Council of Greater Palatka Galleries located at the Historic Larimer Arts Center. The Palatka Art League will host a nature-based art show of local artists at the Tillman House.

  • Riverfront Activities
  • The Art & Science of William Bartram Presentations
  • Collaborations
  • Sunday Morning Bartram Stroll

The following activities are planned on Palatka’s riverfront and within the County Saturday and Sunday:

  • Kayaking – We will offer kayak tours from the riverfront and Bartram guided tours from Welaka and Seven Sisters Islands.
    • SAT Kayaking from Palatka’s riverfront sponsored by Putnam Blueways & Trail 10-4 Tickets

    • SAT Grand Opening of the Welaka kayak landing and 6 mile Bartram Springs guided paddle (15) – 10:0AM – 1:00PM Tickets

      Paddling the Shoreline of Bartram’s Four Spring Hike
      On December 27, 1765, William Bartram and his father John hiked three miles along the shoreline of the St. Johns River, stopping at four different springs along the way (John Bartram’s Journal entry for December 27, 1765). This paddle will follow the shoreline of that hike stopping along the way at two of the four springs they visited. We will launch our kayaks at the soft landing in downtown Welaka and paddle downstream to Welaka Spring past the site where the Bartrams camped atop Johnson’s Bluff on the night of their historic hike. We will continue downstream past Nashua Spring to Satsuma Spring where we will go ashore and, standing in the footprints of the Bartrams, read their description of the site as it was over 250 years ago. We will return to our kayaks and paddle along the shoreline back to the launch site. This is a moderate 6 mile 3-4 hour paddle which includes a 20 minute stop at the halfway point. Paddlers should pack either a snack or lunch to enjoy along the way.

    • SUN Bartram Seven Sisters and Spalding’s Lower Store guided paddle (15) – 10:0AM – 1:00PM Tickets

      Paddling in the Wake of the Barge of Untutored Horses
      This paddle will follow the route of the barge of untrained ponies as it navigated from Spalding’s Lower Store to the pastures on the European shore of the St. Johns River. Paddlers will meet at the Riverfront and caravan 5 miles (15 minutes) to the site of the Historic Spalding’s Lower Store at Stokes Landing near Palatka. We will launch at Bartram Trail Site 13 and navigate through Seven Sisters Islands to the east shore of the River stopping along the way at the likely location where William Bartram swam with the untutored horses when they leaped from the barge in the fall of 1774 (Travels page 304-305). Hard core Bartram aficionados will have the opportunity to stop and swim where Billy swam however this is entirely optional since, just as in Bartram’s day, alligators can still be seen lurking among the nearby lily pads. This is an easy 3 mile paddle that, like Bartram will “return safe to the trading-house” for the return drive to the Riverfront around noon.

  • Biking – We will guide two bicycle rides from the riverfront.
    • Bartram ride from riverfront to Spalding’s Lower Store - 2 hrs/ 14 mi.

  • Historic Palatka Bus Tours – Downtown Palatka will offer guided historic tours of the City featuring the beautiful murals, historic districts, the 1854 Bronson-Muholland House, Railroad Station, and the Palatka Museum.

  • Bay Boat/Pontoon Boat Tours – available from the riverfront by local businesses ongoing from 11:00 – 5:00. For reservations contact:
    • Crystal Cove Marina
    • Great Day Charters
    • Welaka Charters (Renegades)

  • Historic Palatka Bus Tours – Sunday Morning – we will host a sunrise Bartram’s prayer and meditation walk.

On Sunday 2-5 PM we will continue with our popular Bartram lectures. Scholars and experts will present on Bartram-specific topics. We expect to be able to preview the upcoming Bartram film “Cultivating the Wild” filmed on the St. Johns River and in Palatka. We will conclude with a presentation of the effort to make Palatka part of a 2,000 mile National Park Service Bartram Historic Corridor initiated by the Bartram Trail Conference.


The following groups are participating in the St. Johns River Bartram Frolic:

  • Arts Council of Greater Palatka
  • Bartram Trail Conference
  • The Boathouse Marina
  • City of Palakta
  • Deep Forest Historical Native American Programs
  • Downtown Palatka, Inc.
  • Keep Putnam Beautiful
  • National Park Service
  • Palatka Daily News
  • Palatka Art League
  • Putnam Blueways & Trails
  • Putnam County Waterworks & Trails Committee
  • Putnam County Tourist Development Council
  • Putnam County Parks & Recreation Department
  • Putnam County Historical Society
  • Read (Think) Books
  • Revitalize Historic Palatka, Inc.
  • Sunrise Rotary Club
  • StayPluggedInto.com s
  • St. Johns County Recreation & Parks
  • Water Works Environmental Education Center

There will two strolls to honor the Quaker Bartram’s spiritual nature and our riverfront; one on the riverfront and another at Mt. Royal in Welaka.

  • Palatka stroll (1 mile) will be lead by Christy Sanford and Sam Carr. The stroll will start at the River Center and include the 130 year old First Presbyterian Church. Prayers, poems and quotes from TRAVELS will be featured. 7-8 AM Sunday

  • Mt. Royal is a National Historic site and was a very special place for William Bartram. A short walk (1.5 miles) from the riverfront to the mound and historic kiosk will feature prayers, poems and quotes from TRAVELS