SOUTH LAKE COUNTY -While digging with several other children for relics in a roped-off area of the beach at Lake Louisa State Park, 6-year-old Hannah Elder found an arrowhead and a long, slender bone.

"I don't know what the bone is," she said. "I'm going to save the arrowhead and show it to my friends at school."

Then she headed off to get a piece of birthday cake.

The combining of two events May 19 - the 30th anniversary of the park's establishment, along with the fourth annual Field Day -drew an estimated 1,000 people to the 4,500-acre state park in South Lake County.

"We're thrilled," said park manager Chuck McIntire. "This is a great turnout."

Designed as a family and children-oriented event, this year's Field Day obviously succeeded as families from throughout the region enjoyed the beach, wandered the hiking trails, roamed through the exhibits and attended the seminars.

Hannah, just about to finish the first grade at Cypress Ridge Elementary School, came with her grandparents, Frank and Judy Beaty of Clermont.

"We haven't been here in years," Judy Beaty said. "It really is a beautiful park."

The purpose of Field Day is to create an awareness about Florida's natural and cultural heritage. The park, with its pristine wetlands, hammocks, uplands and sand hills, is the ideal setting for seeing Florida as it was before being overrun with development and population.

"Our goal is a family-oriented, Earth-friendly event," Park Service Specialist Brian Sheets said. "We hold it every year at the same time. It seemed natural to combine it with the 30th anniversary this year."

Park Ranger Edward Boyd led one of the activities unavailable to visitors as he took a flock of folks on a bird-watching hike along one of the park's nature trails.

"Just because we're bird watching doesn't mean we can't look at other things," he told the group, and pointed to a growth of shelf fungus on one of the trees.

The park teems with wildlife, ranging from gopher tortoises and white-tail deer to bobcats and otters. Hawks, sand hill cranes, bald eagles and swallow-tail kites are among the birds that might be spotted.

The Sherman fox squirrel, once a native but growing scarce in recent years, is making a comeback in the park.

"It's returning," Sheets said of the rodent that is larger than the common squirrel residents are used to seeing. "We've had several sightings in recent months. That's exciting."

Visitors could sign up for classes in subjects such as how to make a native garden in your own yard, tree planting and native bird species. There was even a kayak workshop.

Four-year-old Petyon Boggs of Clermont was particularly fascinated by the array of live snakes being shown by Park Ranger Geoffrey Davidson.

"Do they eat mice?" she asked as she stared at an albino red rat snake.

"They eat mice and rats," Davidson explained.

"Eeew," the little girl responded.

Mike Ogilvie was there making replicas of arrowheads and other artifacts out of native stone and coral.

"I'd rather make one than find one," he said, adding that arrowheads found around the lake can be as much as 10,000 years old.

He sells his replicas to those who are not as lucky in finding one while digging in the beach sand.

It was a breezy day at Lake Louisa, the water showing a chop that frustrated kayakers, but made a comfortable day for visitors.

"It sure is better than a muggy day with lots of bugs," McIntire noted.