Nature & Heritage Events

Please note: the City of Gainesville is working to ensure the safety and public health of our neighbors and community builders as it relates to the COVID-19 coronavirus. See event cancellations below:

The Great Invader Raider Rally

This year’s Great Invader Raider Rally (GIRR) will look a little bit different than normal years.  Instead of gathering in groups at local nature parks, we are going to focus more on removing non-native invasive plants where you are.  Removing harmful invasive plants from your home or neighborhood can help reduce the amount of plants that jump from the community into our nature parks. Be a part of this annual tradition and restore our natural areas! You Can Do It!

This year’s rally will take place over 4 days from February 19-22.  You can determine when, where, and for how long you volunteer! 

All registered participants will receive a free custom GIRR face mask! To register, please visit

Before the Event

  • View our short video about the 2021 GIRR which includes information on some of the common non-native invasive plants we see in residential areas. We made 6 short videos on these common plants with details about how to identify and properly remove them.
  • Begin looking around your home or neighborhood for invasive plants.
  • **Please do not plan on working in any city nature parks. If you would like to find out more about working with us in our parks, please ask at
  • If you find some suspected invasive plants but are unsure of their identity, post a few photos to our GIRR Facebook Event Page or email them to Our staff will review them and assist you!
  • Make preparations for what you will need for removing plants.We suggest gloves, close-toed shoes, shovel, and trash bags.

During the Event

  • Remove non-native plants from your home or neighborhood and properly dispose of them
  • *Post photos of you and/or your group working to our GIRR Facebook Event Page or email to
  • Celebrate your good work!

After the Event

  • All participants will receive a custom face mask with this year’s design.Masks can be picked up at Morningside Nature Center (3540 East University Avenue) on the following dates:
    • Thursday February 25 from 2-5pm
    • Saturday February 27 from 10-1pm
  • Mask pickup will be “touchless” pickup.Please pull your vehicle around our pavilion loop where staff will deliver your mask to you in your vehicle.Please do not park and exit your vehicle.Signs will help direct you when you enter the park.


If you post a photo of you and your group working in our Facebook Event Page or email them to us, you will be entered into a drawing for additional prizes from some great local businesses.  Prize winners will be notified prior to the mask pickup days and can claim their prize with their masks.

Additional Non-native Plant Resources

You can also visit page to find out how you can help our natural areas year-round.



Spring Native Plant Sale - Cancelled

Take advantage of a wide offering of native north Florida plants during the annual Spring Native Plant Sale. Native plants are adapted to drought and the heat, which helps reduce water consumption from irrigation, require less upkeep and help save money. Please note, this year's event has been canceled.

The Native Plant Sale features beautiful native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, ferns, grasses and vines grown at area nurseries. Vendors are members of the Florida Native Plant Society, and certify that plants are nursery propagated and grown.

Two hours of power-shopping at an exclusive members' only sale is Friday, April 17, 2020 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. for members of the Friends of Nature Parks (FNP), and the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS). It’s easy to join in person or online, and memberships are available at the gate. Cash, checks and debit/credit cards are accepted.

The sale is hosted cooperatively by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the Friends of Nature Parks (FNP) and Paynes Prairie chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) To join the Friends of Nature Parks, please visit To join the Florida Native Plant Society, please visit their website at
For event information please call 352-393-8240. 

Old Florida Seed and Story Swap

Join us at Morningside Nature Center’s Living History Farm for the Old Florida Seed and Story Swap Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., presented by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, in partnership in partnership with Working Food ( ).

Help us preserve our precious agricultural heritage, and diversify your own garden by bringing your seeds to swap with others in our gardening community.

Please, no live plants, seeds older than five years or seeds from invasive exotics. No seeds to swap? Come on down anyway and meet fellow gardeners, while enjoying Morningside’s historic farm.

Take a walk on the wildflower side!

Participants will enjoy the spectacular fall wildflower bloom in the piney woods of Morningside Nature Center during a guided walk. The Jean Dorney Memorial Wildflower Walks are free and take place every Saturday in October and run from 9-10:30 a.m. They start at the education building at Morningside Nature Center. Wear comfortable walking shoes; bring water and field guides you would like to use. These walks are courtesy of a grant from the Friends of Nature Parks in honor of charter member Jean Dorney. 

Jean, a Texas native, moved her family to Gainesville in 1972. She quickly became involved with the Alachua Audubon Society and was a founding member of Friends of Nature Parks. Through the years, Jean was an active advocate of adult education programs at the nature parks and participated in many wildflower walks and natural history classes. For more information about attending the walks and exploring the natural parks as Jean loved to do, please visit Friends of Nature Parks (FoNP) page or call 352-393-8240. 

Cane Boil & FiddleFest

Free admission! Held every November on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Celebrate Bygone American Traditions at Cane Boil & FiddleFest on Saturday Nov. 30, 2019 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Enrich your Thanksgiving holidays with merriment among the piney woods of Morningside Nature Center at the annual Cane Boil & FiddleFest!

The Cane Boil & FiddleFest continues the age-old traditions of celebrating the fall harvest and live home-spun music. Be transported to bygone days by the rustic setting of Morningside’s Living History Farm. Hear the enchanting sounds of the youth fiddle contest as they twine through the pines and across the meadow to the kettle where sugar cane juice is boiling down into our yearly supply of sweet, rich cane syrup! Other old-timey musicians will join in the melodies all day as visitors watch demonstrations of historic skills, shop our vendor’s wares and join in traditional games and crafts. Don’t forget to visit the log cabin and talk to our historic interpreters as they go about a day in the life of 1870. 

The Longleaf Pine Youth Fiddle Contest portion of the Cane Boil is for musicians 18-years-old and younger who may enter in one of three age group divisions:

  • Sprout Division (beginner to nine years-old)
  • Seedling Division (10-13 years-old)
  • Sapling Division (advanced or age 14-18)
  1. Please read all the contest’s rules thoroughly before arriving.
  2. Please pre-register.
  3. Online: download the registration form and email completed forms to by Monday, Nov. 25.
  4. In person: on-site the morning of Saturday, Nov 30, from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  5. Check-in at the Living History Farm’s Schoolhouse on Saturday, Nov 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The contest starts at 10 a.m. and ends at noon with the judging and presentation of prizes, awarded to first, second, third place winners and runners-up in each of the three divisions will conclude the contest. 
  6. Questions? Please call us at 352-393-8240.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon as local talented musicians accompany your exploration as you sample fresh cane syrup and biscuits, experience cane grinding and mid to late nineteenth century traditional skills demonstrations, and live historic-breed farm animals. Make this event part of your Thanksgiving weekend tradition! Bring your out-of-town guests, local relatives, friends and family for a taste — literally! — of old-time Florida (ca. 1870) as the sugar cane boils into syrup and the musicians play their foot-tapping, hand-clapping best! Lots to see and do from 10 a.m. -4 p.m. See you there! Plan to round out your holiday weekend with a relaxing and enjoyable day at Cane Boil & FiddleFest! 

Morningside Nature Center is located at 3540 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32641, approximately three miles east of downtown Gainesville. Please note, pets are not allowed in the park.