Will McLean is thought of as the "Father of Florida Folk." During his life, he wrote more than 3,700 songs and stories. He always said, "My soul is a hawk." Three of his most important songs were "Hold Back the Waters", "Wild Hog",' and "Ballad of the Green Turtle". Some of his good friends included Margaret Longhill, Gamble Rogers, Cousin Thelma Boltin, Dale Crider, Don Grooms, Donna Green-Townsend, Kate Bostrum, Red Henry, Murphy Henry, David Beede, Bobby Hicks, Bob and Geri Mitchell, Pete Seeger, and Florida banjo player Paul Champion.
A weekend music festival is held every March at the Sertoma Youth Camp in Brooksville, Florida. The original festival was held in White Springs. In 2007, Florida film producer Elam Stoltzfus, in conjunction with the Will McLean Foundation, created a short film; "Will McLean: Songs about Florida" for the festival. The College of Central Florida hosted "Hold Back the Waters: A Festival of Will McLean and Florida Folk" in September 2014.
The McLean Florida Folk Music Collection of the College of Central Florida Library in Ocala includes McLean recordings, photographs, awards, harmonicas, and other memorabilia. A collection of photographs of Will McLean are maintained in an archive kept by the state of Florida, entitled, Florida Folklife Collection.