Wauchula – go there on 3rd Saturday

Wauchula – go there on 3rd Saturday

Where is Wauchula?

It is the place to be on the third Saturday of every month.

Seriously.

The city’s web site describes Wauchula as being one hour from anywhere – the public relations way of saying we’re small but we are near the big guys – Tampa, Orlando and beaches are not far away.

This southwest Florida town is described as the “last bastion of beautiful old South Florida.”

Who could resist?

I’m all about visiting last bastions.

Main Street Wauchula cinched my desire to visit by starting a new event the third Saturday of every month – Downtown Wauchula Heirlooms & Originals Main Street Market, antique, handmade, homemade.

Wauchula - old fishing lures at Main Street Market

A very long name!

Wauchula is the place to be the 3rd Saturday of the month

The market debuted the third Saturday in October and I was there.

In downtown Wauchula (about three blocks long on Main Street) vendors set up tables along winding sidewalks in the small, sweet Heritage Park, a lovely landscaped park of about one city block anchored with a large fountain as its centerpiece.

 

 

 

Wauchula - main street market collectibles for sale

Collectibles caught the eye. Recycle letters made from a tin roof in Missouri. War posters from World War II next to a box full of old folding knives, a popular stop for men folk.

Home made quilts. Home made candles. All the while the fountain is gurgling and the sun is shining.

Photos from the 19th Century jammed into cardboard shoeboxes. The subjects sat still and stared into the camera. Across the years their eyes look into ours.

Wauchula - portraits from the past.
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I wonder – what is their story? Why did they sit for the portrait? Novels could be written just trying to decipher the enigmatic expressions on the faces of forgotten men, women and children now faded to soft sepia tones.

I bought three portraits. Perhaps they will tell me their stories.

This first market day was a delightful start to what is billed as a one-year commitment for now. Main Street Wauchula, the organizers, has committed to the Market on the third Saturday of every month, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the next 12 months.

 

 

Wauchula - recycled letters made from a tin roof

 

Do go!

But be advised Main Street has many empty storefronts and few choices for meals. One restaurant sign said it was open Monday through Friday, not helpful for the Saturday Market.

 

Wauchula - Heritage park fountain

Wauchula and Arcadia together make a good road trip

Suggestion:

Do the third Saturday Main Street Market in Wauchula then head south about 30 minutes to Arcadia, famous for its downtown antique district and yes, they have restaurants, tearooms, cafes and an ice cream shop.

Here is a plan:

Make a third Saturday of the month your antique, collectible, handcrafted road trip day. Discover last bastions and small towns off the beaten path from anywhere.

Story and photographs ©2015 Lucy Beebe Tobias. All rights reserved.

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Punta Gorda has historic murals on display

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Antiques Fair Well in Arcadia

Antiques Fair Well in Arcadia

“You really must go to Arcadia the fourth Saturday of the month,” she said, her husband nodding assent as they stood at my table during a book signing. I perked up.

“Why the fourth Saturday?” I asked.

“Oh, because all the antique dealers come from everywhere and set up booths,” she said.

Antique teacups in ArcadiaAntiques take over downtown Arcadia

Hummm. Arcadia. A place I’ve never been in Florida. That is always exciting! But here is a heads up. The fourth Saturday is NOT always the last Saturday of the month.

You knew that, didn’t you, yet brilliant here (that would be me) did not think about that. Some months have five Saturdays, like January. Duh.

Last Saturday I traveled to Arcadia, one hour away from Sarasota, only to find out the big fourth Saturday Antique Shopping Fair was the Saturday before. So I was either one week late or five weeks early.

But it did not matter. The small downtown of Arcadia can hold its own in funky collectibles and antiques any Saturday of the month. I had a great time.

Antique collectibles in Arcadia

Steve Randall, owner of Antiques on Oak with his wife Judith freely admits that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are “iffy”, that is to say, some antique shops may be closed. This is quite consistent with other small towns in Florida that only see an influx of visitors on weekends. If you have a specific shop in mind, check ahead of time to see if it is open.

Four blocks of Oak Street are lined with all things funky, antique and collectible. Last Saturday morning people wandered in and out of stores on both sides of the street. Every store seems to share the same format – an old building, circa late 1800s with high ceilings and the floor space divided into different areas of interest, each area maintained by a collector with an individual style and that makes wandering the aisles pretty interesting.

Another draw – most shops say they buy and sell antiques and collectibles so those with stuff to sell are also attracted here.

At the Whole Shebang Antiques & Collectibles on Oak Street, pick up a free map of downtown listing shops and restaurants.

The town of Arcadia is in the middle of serious sidewalk construction, known in city planner speak as a “beautification project”. Every corner was torn up and barricaded but that didn’t stop walkers from wandering on their way, even walking in the street.

antiques in Arcadia - street musiciansAntiques and food mix well in Arcadia

Jamming live on the sidewalk outside the Oak Street Deli, a mom and pop local favorite,  three musicians got in the groove – two violins and a guitar. A perfect place for antique admirers to take a break, sit a while, have some food and tap a foot in time with the music.

Arcadia restaurants by and large have good reputations – so it was no surprise to see lines outside both Mary Margaret’s Tea and Biscuit and Magnolia Street Seafood & Grill

Mary Margaret’s is located in the Arcade Building on the side facing South Polk Avenue – easy to find, as the massive building is painted pink with white trim. The effect is like looking at a gigantic frosted cake.

Outside of Mary Margaret’s front door is parked an antique car (yes, it runs) and inside the host wears a top hat and tails, befitting the Victorian era ambiance. Of course there is tea and bakery sweets like White Chocolate Bread pudding plus mealtime selections of soups, salads and sandwiches. Mary Margaret’s is open seven days a week from 11-4 p.m.

antique car in Arcadia

The next Antique Shopping Fair will be Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Over 100 vendors come from all over the country and set up on sidewalks, parking lots and the Tree of Knowledge Park, plus don’t forget the 24 antique shops already there in buildings along Oak Street.

For more information on upcoming antique events visit: www.travelersantiqueguide.com and www.arcadiaflantiquefair.com

 

And yes, I plan to go back on a FOURTH Saturday.

UPCOMING WORKSHOP

Sign up! Come join me at the Longboat Key Education Center, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, on Saturday March 7 from 11 – 12:30 p.m. Register online or phone (941) 383-8811 or e mail: [email protected]

Workshop description:

SWK1

50 GREAT WALKS IN FLORIDA

Lucy Tobias

From the far reaches of Pensacola to the blue green waters around Key West,

Florida has great walks in surprising places. Join the author of

50 Great Walks In Florida as she demonstrates the best way to meander; the birding trail essentials; best walks through history and surprises like a walk on a moonlight beach.

There will be demonstrations and takeaways plus a sale and book signing with the author. Wear a funky hat and your walking shoes because you will want to go for a “great walk” right after the workshop!

11:00 am-12: 30 pm

Saturday, March 7

Members $20

Non-Members $25

 

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