October 21, 2017.The Forest Minions return to host for the second year. Planning this year was a bit rough due to be delayed from the hurricane, but we pushed forward to get everything together in time. We had absolutely perfect weather this year. For the first time, we have not only one, but TWO girl scout teams compete in The Gauntlet. Along with the 100 cache geo-art we introduced a youngster friendly Family Fun Run near camp.
October 22, 2016. Bringing this event back for its twelfth year, the ever elusive Forest Minions came together as a group to host. We had a blast with almost 300 of our closest friends hunting down ammo cans, munching on delicious grub, catching up on great folklore, and handing out lots of prizes in the Ocala National Forest. Many of the traditional events returned along with a couple new ones. There was the introduction of a creative Geo-art along with a trackable meetup and trade.
The Florida Geocaching Association hosted this event for a second year.
October 25, 2014! The Florida Geocaching Assocition took over the reigns from IceCreamMan and hosted the event this year. The established events of previous years continued. Events were held from Thursday through Sunday. Lab Caches were available for attendees to hunt for and the Geocaching International Film Festival was screened on Saturday. “Serenova Squad” won The Gauntlet! There was a Friday morning Jeep run event and a kayak/canoe event. There was a Poker Run and many caches to find.
October 26, 2013, had nearly 600 people in attendance. The established events of previous years continued, and continue to evolve, with Turtletoes and Biggie taking on the Thursday Night Hot Dog! event, and the combination of the Night Gauntlet and the AFDB Contest into one event. “Team Moustcache” won The Gauntlet! There was a Friday morning Jeep run event and a kayak/canoe event.
October 27, 2012, had nearly 600 people in attendance. The established events of previous years continued, and continue to evolve, with Turtletoes and Biggie taking on the Thursday Night Hot Dog! event, and the combination of the Night Gauntlet, and the AFDB Contest into one event. A trading set of Pathtags was also introduced. “We Were Pirates” won The Gauntlet!
with over five hundred attendees, the 7th Annual Florida Finders Fest (FFF7), made history becoming the first Mega event in Florida as well as many nearby states. The traditions of previous events were continued, including the the many fun events occurring over the extended weekend. The victors in The Gauntlet were “The Stray Dogs”, a team of people who didn’t know each other prior to joining up and who gathered together because they were not already on a team. Truly the spirit of fellowship so important to Finders Fest.
with nearly three hundred attending, returned to the Outdoor Adventure Camp to again enjoy the beautiful site on Lake Eaton (as well as the hot showers). There was an event Geocoin, as well as an event Pathtag. The now well established traditions of the Thursday night hot dog event, the Friday night Chili Cook-off, the AFDB contest and the Sunday Ice Cream Social were continued, strengthened and expanded, and a new tradition of a Friday morning event was begun. The Ice Cream Social was held in a park in Salt Springs, with ice cream transported in personally by IceCreamMan. No more relying on third parties for ice cream, and the tradition of ice cream free ice cream socials was broken. Team Geo Heroes managed a back to back first place finish in The Gauntlet.
was the first year for the event at the Fish and Wildlife Service Outdoor Adventure Camp in the Ocala National Forest. The nearly two hundred and fifty attendees welcomed the amenities, including flush toilets and hot showers, not to mention cabins and bunkhouses available to those so inclined. The additional events began to hit their stride and would be wonderful standalone events in their own right just about anywhere; however, the no ice cream tradition at the Ice Cream Social was extended when we arrived at the location to find their ice cream machine broken down. IceCreamMan swore it would never happen again. While there was no Geocoin for FFF5, it was the first year a Finders Fest Pathtag was made. The winners of the Gauntlet were Team Geo Heroes.
moved back to the roots of The Gauntlet in Osceola National Forest, with attendance exceeding two hundred cachers. The event saw the advent of numerous additional events, including several “flash mobs” and a full-fledged Aluminum Foil Deflection Beanie contest event. It was the first Finders Fest with a Thursday night event, again hosted by the fetching Mrs. ICM, and it included the first Friday night Chili Cook-off, hosted by Jester! The Sunday Ice Cream Social continued the tradition established the previous year. The ice cream shop at which the event was scheduled began closing Sundays that week so it was not open the day we showed up. An event Geocoin was again minted. The winner of The Gauntlet was Jeepers Creepers, who felt right at home on the Osceola.
returned to Ocala National Forest, to picturesque Mill Dam. While event planners primarily remember, with a shudder, the overly exuberant forest service “host”, it was a beautiful event site. Several innovations were introduced, including a full-fledged Friday Night event, hosted by the fetching Mrs IceCreamMan, during which the Aluminum Foil Deflection Beanie contest got its start as somewhat of an afterthought. The Poker Run was also established as activity. Attendance approached two hundred. FFF3 saw the minting of the first Finders Fest Geocoin, and the first event t-shirt. It was also the first Finders Fest to include a Sunday Ice Cream Social, and was the start of a multi-year tradition of ice cream not being available at the chosen venue. Their ice cream machine was broken down. Ouch! Cacheapalooza Crew was the winner of The Gauntlet, reprising their earlier win at FFF1. And this was the ONLY year the fastest team has won The Gauntlet.
was the first iteration of Finders Fest to be held in the Ocala National Forest and was attended by over a hundred geocachers. Some fun innovations were introduced, including the Jeep ride to the beginning of The Gauntlet. We also enjoyed a full or nearly full moon, which would bring a nice backdrop to at least one future Finders Fest. There was a nearby night cache placed for the event. Attendees may recall the less than cordial relations with dog hunters swarming the forest to claim their camping spots for the season. Then there were the chain saw kids… The winner of The Gauntlet at FFF2 was the storied Team Gold Bond, comprised of many future members of the Florida Ape Geocaching Squad, which would eventually be “Banned in Brevardia”.
was held at Potts Preserve, a SWFWBD (Swift Mud) property in Citrus County. It was a joint effort of IceCreamMan and parents, 2Hillbillies. Of course, The Gauntlet is an integral part of the event, and the Best Team T-shirt competition was introduced. The Gauntlet victor was a crew of young cachers from South Florida, the “Cacheapalooza Crew”. They mentioned their plans for an event in South Florida and, though that event has a character all its own, we would like to think some of the principles of “Food, Finds, and Fellowship” have been incorporated into their annual “Cacheapalooza” event.
Attendees of FFF1, all thirty five of them, may recall the appearance of “pocket caches” — caches that were signed at the event and logged via a cache hidden after the fact. Since those wild and wooly “number ho” days, pocket caches have been outlawed by geocaching.com, but vestiges of the practice remain in the form of “Sunday Morning Smiley”, which is still an active cache in Potts Preserve and a piece of geo-history.