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Florida Folk Festival features Chief Billie film, Seminole culture

Longtime Seminole Tribe friend and White Springs native Jerry Lawrence Bullard sings with his band on the old marble stage.
Longtime Seminole Tribe friend and White Springs native Jerry Lawrence Bullard sings with his band on the old marble stage.

WINTER SPRINGS   The 64th edition of the annual Florida Folk Festival, with its eclectic combination of music, dance, stories, crafts and food, included a movie about the life and times of Seminole Chairman James E. Billie in this year’s agenda May 27-29 at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in Winter Springs. The crowd cheered for the film “Wrestling Alligators” while sturgeon were jumping and gators relaxing along the moss-draped tall banks of the historic Suwannee River, which winds through the picturesque North Florida town.

“Wrestling Alligators,” the documentary produced by David Kordish Films, was screened on a large screen before audiences of several hundred spectators. Chairman Billie has been a regular performer of original music and Seminole storytelling at the nation’s oldest continuous folk festival.

Chairman Billie attended both screenings and spent nearly an hour answering questions from captivated audience members. Crowd favorites also included Seminole demonstrators organized by Tribal citizen Charlotte Burgess of Brighton. The demonstrations came from Mollie Jolly, Martha Jones, Nancy Shore, Janelle Osceola Robinson, Stacy Silbas, Luis Venzor, Norman “Skeeter” Bowers, Deanna Osceola, Willo James, Josiah Robinson, Gregory James II and Paul Simmons.

Seminole garfish chef Norman “Skeeter” Bowers is slow and careful as he shows the proper way to prepare the freshwater alligator gar.
Seminole garfish chef Norman “Skeeter” Bowers is slow and careful as he shows the proper way to prepare the freshwater alligator gar.
Paul Simmons serves fry bread, alligator garfish bites and other Seminole hors d’oeuvres at the Seminole village.
Paul Simmons serves fry bread, alligator garfish bites and other Seminole hors d’oeuvres at the Seminole village.
Nancy Shore shows her sewing machine skills at the Florida Folk Festival Seminole area.
Nancy Shore shows her sewing machine skills at the Florida Folk Festival Seminole area.
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