The Clear Water Fair-1888

Annual Exhibition of the Home Farm and Grove Society

One of the pleasant features of agricultural Florida is the local fairs. They stimulate production of the staples; they lead to the introduction of new industries and they afford that social intercourse so productive of harmonious relations between different sections of the state and are thus promoters of the general prosperity.

Clear Water is not a large town and is more noted for its ambition than for its population. In case of the division of Hillsborough County, it will aspire to be the capital of a new county and it certainly has a situation that is unsurpassed. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, on the 28th parallel, it lacks only deep water to make it a port of entry; but lacking that, it still has all the water facilities that a quiet rural population or the nomadic winter crowd can desire. It has the salt-laden, health-giving breezes of the Gulf; it has a peaceful bay, amply protected by outlying islands; it has fish for the sportsman and quiet hotels for all; churches for the Christian and a pleasant society for the social. Take it altogether; a very nice place is Clear Water and its ambition culminated last week in a very nice fair.

Some years ago, Clear Water erected a building for its fair and other public purposes, but an incendiary as is supposed, sent it away in smoke and flames and since then, Clear Water has been put to it for the requisite accommodations. This year the school house was selected as the focus, but the fair proper was held under the trees, where we found a remarkable good exhibit of vegetables and forage plants. Fruits were scarce, for we have got to the extreme end of the season and two boxes of oranges and half a dozen plates were all that pointed to what has been, but is not. This peninsula boasts, with justice, of producing the best seedling orange in Florida and no one ever saw finer than was on exhibition here. Ex-Governor Safford bought one box, the owner, Mrs. Turner, to put her own price on them. The other box found a ready purchaser at $5.

A vegetarian would have gone into ecstasies over the display of his favorite food here. As a lover of “sweets” from my youth up, I would have “frozen” to the potatoes had the weather been congenial. They were enormous, as were also the turnips, the cabbage, the beets, the parsnips and the radishes, but the latter should never be exhibited of abnormal size, for everyone knows they are not edible and what we all aim at in this country is something good to eat. The exhibits of white potatoes were many and excellent, showing that this section is well adapted to that vegetable. I cannot give the names of all the exhibitors, for the committee adopted the doubtfully wise plan of giving numbers instead of names to the exhibits. I learned, however, that Mr. Snedicore, of Bay View and Mr. Skinner, of Dunedin, were among the largest growers.

All the forage plants of modern invention were on hand and promised fairly, but there was nothing better than our native crab grass, as several bundles of very sweet hay testified.

The school house was filled with the usual variety of fancy and ornamental goods, cakes and cut flowers, occupying the central position. They were fully appreciated, but we carried away but one precious memory, the use made of the natural cloth in the palmetto root. It was made up into little hats, pincushions and other articles of small value; but they pointed a moral, if they did not adorn a table. Nature did not make the palmetto to be simply a nuisance and it is not credible to the genius of the country that its legitimate purposes are as yet undiscovered. For years we have had it talked about as excellently adapted to paper, but we are yet paying fifty dollars an acre to clear land of this persistent root and are burning it to ashes, when it really ought to be worth fifty dollars an acre to the man who is groaning over it. We have read lately of some wonderful discovery in which the palmetto is to play a part, but until it is made more apparently useful at present, we will remain in doubt. Nature has woven her cloth underground and a woman has made a pin-cushion of it and that, after a lapse of twenty-seven years since the rediscovery of Florida, is all that we actually know of the uses of one of the greatest fibre plants in the world.

There were many pretty things in the saloon and some that were useful; but my object in this article is not o give a catalogue; but simply to say that this Clear Water fair was creditable to the place and was another evidence of the progressiveness of Florida. “Westcoast.”

Source: The Florida Dispatch: 4-30-1888

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers

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