Our Day In Fort Meade, FL

All things considered, it was a beautiful day!  It started out warm, but then a few on-and-off showers came through, and it wasn’t too bad.

We were heading to a festival in  Fort Meade, FL .  It’s a small town that can proudly boast they were the first town in Polk County.  The Peace River Folk Festival is a new, annual event for the town. (Next year the dates are January 27-29, 2012 for the Battle of Bowlegs Creek Re-enactment, which will include the Peace River Folk Festival on Sat., Jan. 28th – it’ll be right after the Alafia River Rendezvous in Homeland.)   It’s held for three days and we attended on the last one.

We arrived around 11:30am. It cost $5 to park – free entrance fee. There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of people here at this point. We first went out to the Heritage Hill part of the event where the Living History and Exhibits were. The booth for the Fort Meade Historical Society was filled with information and pictures from the old days. There was also a very interesting booth that had a display of old African instruments, games and masks – all carved from wood. The woman who ran this booth had a cute little boy helping her. He did a great job of explaining to me what the items were on the the table and demonstrating how the instruments worked.

We then headed toward a tent that was set-up:

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I spoke to this woman for a few minutes. Her and her husband came all the way from the FL/AL border to attend this festival  This year they even brought their two grandchildren with them. She had mentioned that there were a lot more exhibitors last year. That the other’s were probably under the assumption that last year was the only year that Fort Meade was having it.  It had been to celebrate the counties 150 years of existence. The only reason that they were there this year was because someone at the Alafia River Rendezvous had asked her if they’d be back in May for the Peace River Folk Festival. She thinks that is why there weren’t that many vendors here this year. Many others probably assumed that last year was the only year. Since it’s going to be an annual event, I’m sure that the word will get out at next year’s Rendezvous, which is held down the road in January, and more exhibitors will be back.

We then stopped by this lean-to that belonged to an Indian. He knew a lot about the Indian history from this area:

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And this tee pee was nearby:

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This man was explaining the tools they used for cultivating the land:

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This man carves all sorts of things out of wood. When I met him, he was carving a canoe. He said he just hands them out to people with a pair of small paddles that he makes for them. He told me that he’ll see a child at a gas station, or somewhere, and he’ll ask the parents if he can give them one. He just makes them for fun:

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This man was cooking up some good looking food!

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They had a Ladies Tea where they gave out samples of all sorts of items that would have been served at a tea. They had cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, pineapple and cream cheese sandwiches and scones, In place of hot tea (it was so warm out), they served lemonade, water and a juice drink they made up. Everything was free – and good!

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See this woman on the left? Look for her later at the Confederate camp. I’ll point her out!

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This woman is with her four month old Chihuahua and Daschund mix. She made the delicious scones and possibly even all of the food – but I’m not sure about that:

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How sweet! You’ll see some pictures of him later with our Great Dane:

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They also had all sorts of wonderful live entertainment on the stage in the shelter area:

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Rich Mistretta
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Square Dance Caller
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Orpheum Circuit Barbershop Quartet
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It had rained a couple times very briefly. The kids were taking advantage of it:

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Here are some pictures from the encampment area:

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Remember the woman at the tea? Here she is again, looking a little different!

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This young man in the picture below had come from out-of-town to write a school assignment on the event.  One of the re-enactors invited him to join in. Notice the black smudge on his face? That’s their initiation for first-timers:

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One of the Confederate soldier’s wife’s:

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Some pictures from the “Battle of Bowlegs Creek”:

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Up until now, I’d been taking pictures with my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. During the battle, I started talking to a photographer for the Lakeland Ledger and he let me try out his Canon 300mm lens while he was using another lens.

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Nice toy (the lens)!

After the battle we listened to the barbershop quartet (picture displayed earlier in post) and then headed out. On our way out, we ran into this cute little guy and his mom again:

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We had a great time at the festival. As I usually find, everyone we ran into was nice. I love meeting new people and enjoy learning about them.

We were hungry for an early dinner, so we headed in to town to see if there was any restaurant that was dog friendly (somewhere with outdoor seating since we had one of our dogs with us). We drove into the downtown area. It was around 3pm and it sadly looked deserted, even though a few places were still open.

We went to the main road and planned on heading home when we spotted a drive-in restaurant called John’s Miner’s Den Drive-in Restaurant. It’s located at 17 N. Charleston Ave., Fort Meade, FL. Telephone# 863-285-9680.  A nice down-home place.  It’s a perfect small town fit.

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Like I said, we were here between 3p and 3:30p and they had business.  By the time we left, they had lots of business and it was raining pretty good by then.

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restaurant

My husband got a pretty good sized burger w/fries:

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I got the gyros (for those of you who pronounce it wrong, the ‘g’ and ‘s’ are silent) w/fries:

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My mom got the Southern Stir Fry which came with corn and she also got the salad bar. She was surprised that the food on the salad bar was so fresh and crisp for the time of the day that it was:

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We all enjoyed our meals. We all agreed the fries were excellent.  I usually only like McDonald’s french fries, but these were really good.  Good food.  Good service.

I had noticed a fire department was right next to the restaurant. While I was waiting for our food to arrive, I ran over to take a picture of the local firemen. I can never resist honoring a bunch of courageous guys this way. I’ve taken pictures like this in other cities/states:

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It turned out to be a beautiful day – it started out a little warm, but it got overcast and kept the temperatures down a bit. I’m glad I got a chance to go to Fort Meade to meet some of the great people who live there. I hope that they have much success in their future festivals.

 

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