Since Gatorama is a working alligator farm, we experience all phases of an alligator’s life! The most exciting has to be hatching the grunting and chirping babies right from their eggs. The Hatching Festival you enjoy today, wasn’t always the event you’ve grown to love. Initially when eggs started hatching, Allen and Patty would bring a tray to the back porch and let guests casually experience a hatching during one of our educational shows. We did this for many years, never charging anyone for the opportunity.
We know this is a once in a lifetime experience and we have always wanted to make it as accessible as possible to our guests. Before we started charging for the experience we had a woman who wanted to hatch a whole tray herself. She got pretty angry when we didn’t let her, in the interest of allowing others the opportunity! While we appreciated the passion she had for what we were doing, she got belligerent and it was at that time that we decided to change our format. Our options were simple, stop offering it, or figure out another technique.
Around the same time, Patty was active in Rural Tourism Development and Allen was involved in Value Added Agriculture. It was then that we decided an Alligator Hatching Festival!
Initially, we thought that this would literally be a once in a lifetime experience—you would come and do it once and that would be it. The experience turned out to be so unique that after guests hatched their babies, they started making plans to bring family and friends back for subsequent years. It has been 11 years since that first Festival and we are proud of what The Hatching Festival has become. We enjoy seeing families come back year after year and watching our Junior Wranglers grow up.
There is no way we could do this without the help of our Volunteer Florida Master Naturalist, Public Volunteers and Teachers! They are a key piece of the Gatorama Hatching Festival Team and we can’t thank them enough.
Check out a few of the photos we dug out of the vault! If you look closely you can see the growth of the Hatching Festival and how we went from the pop-up tents to our Crackin’ Barn! If you thought that we couldn’t’ possibly grow any more, you’re wrong. Just wait till you see what’s in store for you this year!