Plans continue for multicity Yulee Day

Organizers seek a celebration of the Archer tycoon along the route of his railroad.


Published: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 2:55 a.m.
Plans are continuing for a multicity North Florida celebration of Archer tycoon and railroad magnate David Levy Yulee.
Organizers are asking cities along the route of Yulee's railroad, which crossed Florida from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key, to create their own Yulee Day, making for a linear festival during the weekend of June 4-6.
"The event will be 155 miles long and will consist of many local events connected by athletic events," organizer Phil Denton of the Archer Historical Society said.
Although Denton said each city on the route would plan its own events with the festival he is proposing, organizers are also planning a bike, walk or run event that would pass through all communities involved.
Jack Hughes, executive director of the Gainesville Sports Organizing Committee, is coordinating the athletic aspect of the festival. He said the sports activity would run roughly along the bed of Yulee's railroad.
"We'd like to create an event that would start at sunrise on one day at Fernandina Beach and end the next day at sunset at Cedar Key," Hughes said. "We think that that would be just a really interesting way to do two days of bicycle riding, running or a combination."
Yulee (1811-1886) was a plantation owner and Florida's first senator after the state's admission to the Union in 1845. In 1861, his first Florida railroad train left Fernandina Beach on the Atlantic Ocean and arrived at Cedar Key on the gulf.
Organizers have received $12,000 from Alachua County toward development of the events in the county. Denton said officials in Fernandina Beach, Cedar Key, Starke, Waldo, Archer and Gainesville have expressed interest in the festival.
"The response has been enthusiastic," Denton said. "It's just a question of getting to everybody and looking for sponsors."
The events are being conceived as an eight-year festival - the amount of time it took to build the railroad. Denton said the time frame allows more community celebrations and activities to be added each year.
"June is just around the corner," he said. "Fortunately, everything is focused not only on this year but for the next eight years."
Rachel Kipp can be reached at (352) 374-5086 or kippr@gvillesun.com.

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