2017 Festival Poster

2017 Knapfest Festival-Poster

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Florida Newnan and Hillborough Points made from Coral and ChertWhen I was six years old I would come home from school with my pockets full of rocks. To me they were like diamonds. I grew up in Windsor Florida, near Gainesville and there is not a lot of natural stone in the area. My school was in Hawthorne Florida, where there was a railroad and the gravel used on the tracks sparked and had many different colors.

One of the rocks that I brought home one day just happened to be a broken projectile point and my older brother quickly confiscated it.

A few years later when walking with my best friend David Paul Moore down the dirt road from my house to his, I found an Archaic Stemmed Newnan’s type point made from blue Agatized Coral. I was hooked from that point on. I had found many chert and coral chips around my house. I had no idea where the natives had found the stone, but I started practicing trying to figure out how to make a projectile point. By the time I was a teenager I could make a pretty good sock point (You know, an arrowhead so ugly that you hide it in an old sock). I have found many native made points that fit this description.

I had also figured out that there were chert and coral outcroppings in and around the lake and sink holes in the area. This chert was rough and hard to flake. I did not know about heat treating. One day I tried the bottom of an old Clorox bottle and for the first time I exceeded the sock point status.Claude van-Order with his 2009 Winning Clovis Entry in Knapping Contest I thought that I and one of my friends were the only people in the world that could do this.

I was working at Payne’s Prairie as a Park Ranger when I was 23 years old, when I met Claude Van Order for the first time. I then realized that I was not the only one that could do this. You could compare it to a garage band rock and roller meeting Jimi Hendrix. Claude has been flint knapping for over 50 years and is well known throughout the country for his skills. Claude and I became friends. One day Claude asked me if we would be willing to have a Knap-in at the park. I had no idea what a Knap-in was. Once Claude explained to me what the event would entail, I took the idea to my supervisors. We organized and put the first Payne’s Prairie Knap-In and Primitive Arts Festival together in only seven months. This was in 1998. I was the event organizer for two years when I was promoted into management and left Payne’s Prairie.

Terry Sheehan took over the event and built it to one the best in the country. We had a great team at Payne’s Prairie and everyone worked on different aspects of the event. In 2006 after 8 years of hosting the event, the staff at Payne’s Prairie decided that they would pursue events directed towards other aspects of the park, such as its rich diversity of birds and other wildlife.

The Manager at Payne’s Prairie contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to host the event at Ochlockonee River State Park. I told him that I could not because I did not have the resources at the park to handle such a large event. After a year had passed Terry Sheehan, who had been promoted to a position with the Florida Division of Forestry, contacted me to try to persuade me to host the event at Ochlockonee River. The very same day Bob Berg from Thunder Burg Atlatl also contacted me for the same reason. After much arm bending from the two of them, I agreed to give the event a try.

Kevin Patton - Park ManagerIn 2008 we hosted our first Ochlockonee River Stone Age & Primitive Arts festival. The event was a great success and we had over 1000 visitors attend the first year. The next year’s attendance was even greater at 2400 people. The 2011 event was held in March to coincide with archeology month.

Traditionally the event has always been held in February. The last few years the temperatures in north Florida have been in the teens and we thought that warmer weather would be very much welcomed. We actually had a drop in our attendance numbers when we changed the date to March and also some of the well known primitive artists were not able to attend with the date change. The 2013 event will be back in February. The last full weekend on the 22th, 23th and 24th. This will be one week after the Dade City Knap-in and one week before the Silver River event. This will give primitive artists the opportunity to attend three events in Florida in three weeks spaced out over a large geographical area.

Kevin Patton
Former Park Manager
Ocklockonee River State Park

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:50