If you're looking for a great family vacation destination, search no further than the charming and friendly confines of Sopchoppy, Florida. The city exemplifies hospitality and offers a classic view of Americana, with white picket fences, friendly faces, and a city-wide sense of community. Sopchoppy was founded back in 1894 as a depot for the CT & G Railroad Company. The railroad, owning a large portion of current day Sopchoppy, laid out, designed, and built the city to attract new residents to the area. Since then, the city has retained much of its original charm, although the railroad no longer drives all the business in town. Sopchoppy has become a beacon for tourists and it's one of the top places in all of Northwest Florida to enjoy outdoor activities.
With an economy supported by outdoor enthusiasts and tourism, Sopchoppy has established itself as a top vacation destination. The surrounding wilderness is lush, vibrant and filled with a diverse collection of wildlife. Whether you're fishing on one of the local streams or watching birds in the dense forests, there is something for every fan of the outdoors in Sopchoppy. You’ll find outfitters, guides and just about everything you need to have a unforgettable outdoor adventure. The town is also known as the Worm Gruntin’ Capital of the World. Worm Gruntin' is the practice of putting a post of hardwood into the ground and hitting it with a heavy piece of iron to create vibrations in the ground that drive worms to the surface. Sopchoppy takes Worm Gruntin’ seriously and each year they host the can’t-miss, Worm Gruntin’ Festival.
Heading into its 16th year, the Worm Gruntin’ Festival has established itself as one of the top spring events in the entire region. This event is great for families, couples or anyone looking to have a great time in the lush Northwest Florida wilderness. From a 5K run to the actual Worm Gruntin’, this event has something for everyone. Games, contests, great food and vendors selling a wide selection of arts and crafts will keep you on your toes. Live music will be played throughout the duration of the event, and it wraps with the popular Worm Grunter's Ball, where you can dance and socialize the night away. ResortsandLodges.com got the chance to interview Bill Lowrie, President of the Sopchoppy Preservation and Improvement Association, to talk about this fun event.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the festival.
BL: This year’s festival should be the best ever. As always, it is free and open to the public and offers a great variety of entertainment, contests for children and adults, plus 100 vendors of arts, crafts, food, and games.
RAL: Take me through what attendees can expect at the event.
BL: The day begins at 7:00 am with registrations for the 5K race (registration form or online registration at active.com). The race begins at 8:00 am. The course begins in town, crosses the bridge over the Sopchoppy River, heads out into the country and then returns. At 9:00 am, art and craft vendors, along with those selling food, will open for business and our first live music performance of the day will entertain. Opening ceremonies are held at 9:30 am, and at 10:15 am, the “must see” colorful Worm Gruntin' demonstration by professional bait harvester, Snap Revell.
The worms go deep into the ground as the day warms up, so if you want to see Snap or have your kids compete in the Worm Gruntin' contest (cash prizes) which follows the demonstration, you have to be here in the morning. Tools will be available so you can still try your hand at Worm Gruntin' throughout the day. An early morning arrival will also give you the best choice of sizes and colors of our very popular festival shirts.
There will be a lot of great live music throughout the afternoon and into the evening along with contests such as the Wakulla County Horseshoe Championship, which offers cash prizes. A bait casting contest for kids awards rods and reels to the three top performers. The always amusing hula hoop contest attracts “hip”-sters young and old. You will be amazed at how much fun it is to watch them perform with such intense concentration and determination to keep those hoops going round and round.
The Worm Grunters’ Ball begins at 7:00 pm, the culmination of a wonderful day. The ball attracts families, children, and a few pets. We will provide chairs, but if you’ve got a favorite, bring it or a blanket along. The dancing and music continue until 10:00 pm.
RAL: Tell me about the local lodging situation.
BL: From great camping sites to hotels, Sopchoppy and the surrounding area has many great lodging options for you to choose from. For camping there is Sopchoppy City Park, Ochlockonee River State Park, Holiday Park and Campground and Newport Campground. For hotels, motels and lodges, you’ll find Sweet Magnolia Inn, Best Western Plus, Wakulla Springs Lodge and The Magnuson.
RAL: What does this festival mean to the community?
BL: This is the perfect spring event for experiencing our great community, meeting friendly new people and having a great time. Many of our patrons are repeat attendees and the popularity of our festival keeps growing. The extra business brought into the community, has a big effect on the local economy. Most shops, restaurants, stores and lodging providers see a boost during the event.
RAL: Does the event support any special causes in the community?
BL: Yes, the Sopchoppy Preservation and Improvement Association (SPIA) is proud to announce the establishment of the Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival Scholarship Program. Under the Program, SPIA will award one $500 scholarship each year to a high school student from the Sopchoppy area at the annual festival.
For more information about the Worm Gruntin’ Festival, please visit their website.