The mission of SPIA (Sopchoppy Preservation and Improvement Association) is to preserve and enhance the easy living atmosphere and quality of life of the people of Sopchoppy and the surrounding area through fostering economic vitality and opportunity while preserving social, cultural, historic, and natural values. SPIA’s primary source of funding is the annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival.
One of the first projects was, started in 2006, was the restoration of a log cabin originally built in 1929 by Trammel Green on the occasion of his marriage to Doris Hagan. He was assisted by his cousin, Howard Mathis. They built an identical cabin for him nearby on Emmett Whaley Road.
The wood shingle roof, usually made from heart cypress, was standard in Wakulla County until the 1930’s when tin roofs first appeared. The cabin was donated by Emmett Whaley with Betty Green financing the move to the City Park. The cabin was using funds raised at the Worm Gruntin’ Festivals and the City of Sopchoppy. The project included restoring the foundation and replacing a number of the logs in the walls, re-shingling the roof with cedar shakes, adding a front porch and installing a fence. In 2010 SPIA commissioned the construction of 14 windows which were installed 2011. Future plans are to rebuild the chimney and fireplace.
In 2010 SPIA provided financial support to the 4th of July Celebration in Sopchoppy and in 2011 bought a brick at the restored Railroad Depot and provided funds for A/V equipment. Other activities include funding the printing of rack cards advertising the downtown merchants, donations to the local food bank, support for the Florida Wild Mammal Association, and a $1,000 scholarship for one Sopchoppy senior high school student each year (see our scholarship tab for application details).
In 2012 SPIA funded the creation and mounting of a 24 by 8 foot mural depicting a bait harvester grunting worms in the local forest with many of our cherished wildlife creatures expertly represented. This beautiful work was created by George Weymouth, a well know local wildlife artist and naturalist. The mural was completed in 2014 and is mounted on the exterior of a local business, the service station that is on your right as you come into the town of Sopchoppy on Hwy 319 from the direction of Medart. Stop for a moment to get a close up view of the details in the painting. It is exquisite.
In 2014 a second mural created from historic photographs from the 1920’s depicting two fishermen with a long string of Largemouth Bass, presumably caught using our delicious worms. Some Sopchoppians still recognize these men after all these years! We will be installing more of these old Sopchoppy photographs in coming years.
For the past couple of years SPIA has funded acquisitions for the historic Sopchoppy Depot Museum. These include the purchase of benches which are now installed on the surrounding porch and antique wooden barrels of the type that would have been used for shipment of molasses, turpentine, and even Caviar which was locally harvested from the then large local population of sturgeons. Everyone enjoys the pigs around the front wildflower beds at the train depot. SPIA donations allowed the purchase of the pigs, which are representative of the live pigs that old-timers say were always seeking the shade of the old depot building.
In addition, SPIA has been a supporter of the Florida Wild Mammal Association and in 2015 helped create a Merry Christmas for a Sopchoppy family through Operation Santa. More to come!
President: Cindy Melzer
Vice President: Amanda Daughtry
Treasurer: Danny Flynn
Secretary: Nelson Martin
Other Volunteers include James Fleming, Rick Ott, Susan Solburg, Susan Shearer, Jamie Hayes Martin, Sandy Tedder, Liz Carter, Butch Horn, and Chris Brown.
We want to extend a sincere appreciation to our many Volunteers for this year’s festival. We could not do this without you. Our volunteers work hard and we thank you!
Sales Tent volunteers were: Cindy Melzer, Amanda Daughtry, Warren Melzer, Russell Fleming, Dennis Tinsley, Hannah Tinsley, Nathan Fuentes, Bill Poole, Lauren Geiger, and friends.
Vendor Recruiting and Management: Sandy Tedder, Danny Flynn, and James Fleming.
Worm Gruntin’ Contest: Nelson Martin and Susan Solburg.
Horseshoe Championship: Danny Flynn and his helpers.
Hula Hoop Contest: Cindy Melzer and Amanda Daughtry.
Race Coordination: Susan Brooks Shearer, Jamie Hayes Martin
Website updates: Sandy Tedder.