Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival draws crowds from across the country

Orange City is home to Blue Spring State Park, which is famous for the throngs of manatees that flock there each winter for its warm waters. People come from around the country to see them.

"Never seen one. Wanted to see one," said Teresa Evans, visiting from Nashville, "I haven't got very close to one. But, we've been enjoying it. They're very smooth and peaceful looking."

This weekend also marks the return of the Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival. 

"We didn't in 2021. We made it in 2020, but then 2021 because of COVID, we couldn't put it together. Now, we're back," said Jeff Allebach, festival organizer.

The festival started in 1985. 

This weekend, they expected around 100 booths, vendors and food trucks. 

"We're getting on a cruise tomorrow, but manatees are my favorite thing. So, we're excited to find it was the manatee festival," said Christina Drevers, visiting from Michigan.

The Manatee Festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Coach buses run back and forth the short distance from the festival site at Valentine Park to Blue Spring.

Visitors say they didn't mind Saturday’s wet weather. 

"Welcome to Florida," said Lake Nona resident George Wood. "It's just how things are. It's well worth it though."