Saturday, May 4, 2019

ONLY ON MONDAYS

We spend about half of the year in Sumter County, located in central Florida, in a small town called Webster, FL. Webster is located approximately 60 miles northeast of Tampa and roughly 50 miles due west of Orlando and 30 miles west of Clermont. According to the 2010 Census Webster has a population of about 800 residents except on Monday when thousands of shoppers converge at the Webster Flea Market.

Our backyard in Webster, FL

Another beautiful sunset at Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort
Webster, FL

We didn't particularly seek out the town of Webster as much as we found a place we genuinely felt at home.  Peace?  Oh yes, there is peace... except when our neighbors get hungry.

Certified Black Angus Cattle 

Our neighbors on both sides of us are registered and certified Black Angus cattle.  Turns out they have been good neighbors too.

Sumter County Farmers Market
Established in 1937
New produce probably picked early that morning
Sumter County Farmers Market - Webster, FL

Vendors can choose from about 20 different pavilions at the Flea Market

Two things never change in Sumter County, Florida.  The Webster Flea Market has been in business, rain or shine, for almost 8 decades.

Private dealers can set up shot on the Westside of the Flea Market
Webster, FL

Second,  the Sumter County Cattle and Horse Auction is held every Tuesday.  Webster is known for the flea market, but the cattle and horse business is a very important part of Sumter County, where boots, spurs and cowboys have been conducting business since the beginning of Webster.

Weekly cattle and horse auction in Webster, FL

Livestock stalls at cattle auction in Webster, FL

The Webster Flea Market is on the corner of County Road 478 and NW 3rd Street and is the largest and oldest running flea market in the State of Florida, located on 40 acres in an 80 acre compound.  The covered pavilions make it possible for the 4,000 dealers to prepare for the estimated 100,000 shoppers that appear every Monday from 6 am - 2 pm.  Webster turns into a bustling town with hundreds of day visitors.  The only police force will be on horseback.

Some of the 4,000 vendors are local but many come from all over and may have gotten up early enough to get here as far away as Miami, Fort Lauderdale or north Florida.  During the snowbird season the vendors are from out West and as far north as Canada.  Most of the regular shoppers get some great walking exercise.
Just about anything for any collector!

You need a sense of humor to enjoy your shopping at Webster!

Many vendors don't use tables - they spread everything on the ground!

Someone with a microphone announces "The West Side is the best side",  and another announcer gives a license plate number for someone blocking the entrance to the parking lot.

Through the years I've learned never to be surprised at some of the unique merchandise for sale.
Yes, this coffin was for sale.  Handcrafted and ready to use.
You can find just about anything at the Webster Flea Market!

An antique mall on the grounds has more than 80 stalls, along with a beer garden and concession area.  This is the place to enjoy bargains or add to your personal collection.  We feel blessed to be able to buy fresh produce from the local farmers as well as fresh seafood from the Gulf.  It makes good sense to buy local and enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Local farmers offer a variety of fruits and vegetables

The most important thing is that you are buying fresh from the farmer!

Fresh citrus is everywhere during season

How about some carrots for your horses?

While you are at the Flea Market take advantage of some of the reasonably priced food vendors.

Not hard to locate this food vendor - a large cow is on top of the building!

 A variety of foods, snacks and beverages are throughout the market area.  You may find American snack bars, breakfast, homemade doughnuts, sausage sandwiches, Bar-B-Q, pizza, Mexican vendors, Asian vendors, roasted corn and baked potatoes, etc....it's all there and reasonably priced.


You won't be disappointed if you visit Webster and eat at the Farmers Market Restaurant, next to the Sumter County Farmers Market, where delicious country food is served buffet-style and opens daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all with a southern flair!

Monday, April 8, 2019

LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS


We recently visited central Florida's Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, FL, the winter home to almost 500 West Indian manatees.


Talk about winter visitors trying to find a place to get warm!

Florida State Parks are proud of "America's Best State Park" Designation!
Blue Spring Gift Shop with Snorkel/Scuba Rentals 

Stay for the weekend in a full furnished cabin!
Abundance of turtles, birds, fish and wildlife 

A Florida Manatee and calf at Blue Spring

 Other animals that make Blue Spring a home is the Florida scrub jay, gopher tortoise and black bear. This area is the home of one of only two known locations for the Okeechobee gourd.

Florida Scrub Jay - Blue Spring

All types of Florida birds life thrive in this environment

Tucked within 2,643 acres are 15 natural communities, a lagoon, a north-flowing river and a first-magnitude spring that discharges over 104 million gallons of water into the St. Johns River on a daily basis.
Manatees are well protected at Blue Spring

Boardwalk through shade areas

We enjoyed the one-third mile boardwalk that follows the flowing Blue Spring run through a shady hardwood hammock.

The water is 72-degrees year round and abounds with fish, manatees and tropical birds. They are very well protected away from areas where swimmers and scuba divers converge.  There are 3 covered pavilions if you care to have a picnic or simply rest.

Many covered and uncovered picnic areas
If you bring a bicycle there is a 4 mile, one way Pine Island Hiking Trail.  Facilities include 50 campsites equipped with water, electricity, picnic tables, fire rings and 6 fully equipped cabins.  

If you desire to explore the river further, rent a canoe, kayak or take a kayak tour or experience native plants and wildlife on a 2 hour river cruise.

Leisurely kayaks enjoy the Spring
The on-site Florida pioneer Louis Thursby House is over 100 years old and offers an insight to early Florida pioneer living.   Louis Thursby purchased Blue Spring in 1856 and built a 3 story house atop a large Indian midden in 1872.  Before the railroad rolled through in the 1880s, Thursby's Blue Spring Landing was a hotbed of steamboat activity shipping tourists and goods to Jacksonville and beyond.  Mrs. Mary Thursby was Orange City's first postmistress.


Louis Thursby Home - Blue Spring

Louis Thursby House has withstood the test of time since 1872
The State of Florida purchased Blue Spring in 1972 recognizing the importance of this area being a winter refuge to the manatee.


Blue Spring is enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.  The beauty and history of this important spring is definitely something to be protected for all to enjoy.