Cracker Fair 2023






  • Organized by the Lemon Bay Historical Society, annual Cracker Fairs are our gift to the community.
  • Admission is free. The Fair will run from 10am to 4pm.
  • Lemon Dessert Baking Contest sponsored by Lemon Bay Woman’s Club
  • There will be food vendors, live performers, crafts, demonstrations, authors and artists.
  • Watch the Bit of Hope Ranch give a whip-cracking demo
  • See and learn about animals brought by the Peace River Wildlife Center.
  • The CRACKER FAIR is the culmination of “Lemon Bay Fest,” February 4 – 11, a full week of local history events presented by the Englewood libraries. View the library schedule here.
The Cracker Fair is the culmination of the Lemon Bay Fest, a week of celebrating Englewood’s history produced by the 2 Englewood libraries. The Fair is also a fund-raiser for our community programs and our mission to preserve the fascinating history of the Lemon Bay area. 
We are pleased to present the following line-up of live entertainment on the new Dignam Family Stage at Pioneer Plaza:

A unique experience will be on hand when James Hawkins performs songs about our rich local history.

“I am a singer/songwriter from Venice, Florida. For about 10 years I have knocked around the Florida Folk scene performing in many different venues from coffee houses to a couple of concert halls.

“Some folks have described my music as a mix of Woody Guthrie and Harry Chapin but I leave that judgment up to you. I have a new radio called “Acoustic Waves” on WSLR 96.5.” James’ major project is called “Turn Back Time” which deals with Florida History through stories and songs and brings traditional Folk music and stories to the classroom.

Gottfried Creek is Bob Kinsley and Bill Keehne who hail from Ohio and Michigan and bring to us an eclectic mix of folk, bluegrass and 60s and 70 rock. They have performed at the Englewood Farmers Market, Lemon Bay Park and the Englewood Museum.

The name Gottfried Creek comes from pioneer settlers Otto and Ferdinand Gottfried who arrived here from Milwaukee in 1893 and lived in a palmetto shack located where New Comfort Road now intersects S.R. 776. Nearby they planted two acres of pineapples, cabbages and potatoes. Other family members soon joined them and circa 1900 they built a fine 2-story house on the creek that today bears their name.

Get ready to lift your spirits and travel back to the good old days. John Tuff & Friends started out over ten years ago. They performed all over Southwest Florida in a variety of venues featuring classic country music: music of legends, such as Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Johnny Horton, and more, the kind of music many of us grew up with on the family radio.

We are pleased to have the wonderful talent of John Tuff and Friends return this year.

Established in 2020 Vinyl Recall is a three piece Eclectic Classic Rock band.

Paul Quinn has played guitar and sung for a number of years, and lives locally after having spent time in other states. Of necessity, he blends rhythm and lead playing, and tends to use his fingers, rather than a pick, for a different sound.

Jeff Dillon is a native Floridian and born in Venice. Jeff has been involved in the Performing Arts for 50 years. Drumming since his teens, he plays in a broad set of styles. He is pleased to be working with John, Paul, and Vinyl Recall.

John Munn has lived in Englewood since 2016. Love of music started early in this one in choirs and musical theatre. He picked up bass at age 13. He created Groovin’ In The Gallery open mic in 2018 at the Englewood Art Center that ran for a year and a half. Vinyl Recall is his first band and only band, so far.

Recall has played at Pop’s Sunset Grill, Tomahawk Tiki Bar @ CoolToday Park, Englewood Moose, Englewood Eagles Club, Englewood VFW, The Back Yard, Libby’s Sports Bar and Grill, Rumours Wine Bar, AllStar Bar and Grill, Salty Jim’s Bar and Grill. We are pleased to feature Vinyl Recall at this year’s CRACKER FAIR.


Key AgencyJeff Joyce ASB Dog Trainer
Michael J. LooneyWilliam Airey
Robert & Aileen CapozziMerrill’s Heating & A/C
Venice Pest ControlLemon Bay Woman’s Club
Southern Mower & TrailerXpertech Auto Repair
Lasbury-Tracy RealtyEnglewood Bank & Trust
Englewood CRAEnglewood FL Chamber of Commerce
StyleCraft CabinetryJessica K. Close ESQ
Suncoast Central RealtyBilly Kimberlin Roofing
Brian Faro Paradise ExclusiveHinck Private Wealth Management
Justin & Kimberly StiverAmy Gonzales Michael Saunders & Co
Janet Shawen Paradise ExclusiveMike Douglass Plumbing
Castle AirDebbie McClure
Dr. Kenneth LoundersA-1 Auto Care
Pope InsuranceMary Brown
Douglas P. IzzoWampler Varner Insurance Group
Joe Maxx CoffeeTony Babington, Paradise Exclusive
Prop it Up Photo BoothsR.J. Labadie Construction
A Better Scoop Ice CreamFlorida Home Mortgage / Xavier Financial
Jim Litton / Michael Saunders & CoThoroughbred Golf Carts
Island Air ConditioningFarlow's on the Water




Tuesday, JANUARY 24 at 7pm at the
at the Historic Green Street Church,
corner of S. Indiana Ave and 2nd Ave, Englewood

January’s guest speaker at the Historic Green Street Church will be Kate Borduas from the Venice Area Audubon Society.

She will be talking about pelicans, how and when they evolved and what role pelicans have played in various cultures. Kate will also examine threats to pelicans, past and present, and we will learn ways to keep these amazing creatures safe. The Brown Pelican is the largest native bird in Florida but is the smallest by far of the eight pelican species worldwide.

Ms. Borduas is a Florida Master Naturalist and National Certified Interpretive Guide.

The public is invited, Tuesday, January 24 at 7pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome.


Founded in 1965, the Venice Area Audubon Society (VAAS), is a chapter of Audubon Florida and serves Venice, Nokomis, Osprey, North Port, and Englewood, Florida.

VAAS’ mission is to promote an understanding of and interest in wildlife and the environment that supports it, and to foster the cause of conservation with emphasis on birds and their habitats. VAAS fulfills its mission through birding field trips, educational presentations, programs for children in coordination with local schools, community science projects, and other activities.

Cracker Fair 2018


We thank our 2018 Cracker Fair Sponsors! Please support them:



Sarasota County Community Redevelopment Agency

Thanks to all who helped make the 2018 CRACKER FAIR a success!

We are proud to list, in no particular order, the vendors, artists, merchants and organizations who were at the 16th Annual Cracker Fair: Variety, Food, Fun and new discoveries.

Pioneer Days Committee: Kids’ Free Arts & Crafts Tent

Catharina Bearse: pastel paintings

Angler Pocket Guides

FurBaby Beds

S&K’s Nice Stuff

Les Caraher, mountain music

John Tuff and Friends, classical Western music

Hazy’s What Knots

Shabby Chic Boutique

RJ Coons: Southwest Florida mysteries Blaine Sterling novels

D.L. Havlin: Florida action mysteries, historical fiction, thrillers

Brenda Spalding: adult mystery novels

Southern Yankee Foods

Jane Deutsch: painted visors, jewelry

Young Living Essential Oils

Artist Karen Dukes, LMC Outdoors


Glassy Lady Jewelry

925 Fabulous Jewelry

Mermaid Jewelry

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Trinkets & Treasures

Blasé Van Thomme: pens, key chains

Pat Vettese

Eden East

Wagon Wheel Décor

Pretty Girl Cosmetics

Morgan’s Goat Soap

Punta Gorda Historical Society: swamp cabbage

Peace River Wildlife Center: birds of prey

Susan Klaus: fantasies & thrillers; part owner of a thoroughbred horse farm
and cattle ranch

Clarissa Thomasson, Salt Marsh Publications: Florida historical fiction

Bob Fuqua: books, fossils, sharks teeth

Sarasota County Mosquito Management

Elsie Quirk and Charlotte Libraries

S.H.O.R.E.: fresh lemonade

Sarasota County Englewood Community Redevelopment Agency

Designs by Patrice

Sweet Leaf Relief (wellness foods)

Englewood Masonic Lodge 360

N&G Cornhole

Paradise Hot Dogs

G & E Concessions: funnel cakes, fresh fruit smoothies

The Legend of Gasparilla

Our Next Event: The Legend of Gasparilla

Tuesday, October 25 at 7pm at the
at the Historic Green Street Church,
corner of S. Indiana Ave and 2nd Ave, Englewood

Our guest speaker Crystal Diff will dive into the legend of the infamous pirate Gasparilla and the lasting impact it’s made on southwest Florida’s coast. While exploring the ​local origins of the legend, we’ll uncover the historical background of how a “big fish” story captured a railroad tycoon and made its mark on our coast forever.

Crystal Diff is the Executive Director for the Boca Grande Historical Society. She has spent over a decade working with cultural institutions across southwest Florida in history, art, archives, anthropology, and archaeology. Previously to BGHS, she provided public education programs and exhibits on local history for Charlotte County History Services.


About the Boca Grande Historical Society:
The Boca Grande Historical Society & History Center is committed to enhancing our understanding of the history of Gasparilla Island and its surrounding area. Their goal is to provide personally rewarding opportunities to learn about the remarkable people and events that shaped our past. Learn more…


Cancelled due to Hurricane Ian

Tuesday, October 4 at 7pm at the Historic Green Street Church, 510 Indiana Ave., Englewood

Our guest speaker will be Samantha Gentrup, a local teacher and environmental advocate. She will be representing People for Trees, a grass-roots effort that began in 1997 and grew into a 501©3 non-profit organization and is celebrating 25 years of promoting the many benefits of trees.
These include providing oxygen, shade, noise and light buffers, controlling storm water runoff, and soil erosion and cooling our ever increasing temperatures since the presence of trees can reduce outside temperatures by as much as 15 degrees.
Samantha Gentrup is a local teacher and environmental advocate. She is originally from Ohio, but moved to Florida in 2015 because of her love of wildlife and water.
When SWFL experienced the red tide ecological crisis in 2018, Samantha co-led a statewide demonstration in which close to 10,000 people simultaneously stood in solidarity from coast to coast in an event called Hands Along the Water in order to bring awareness to Florida’s failing ecosystems.
Hands Along the Water continued as a grassroots movement to engage local communities in education and outreach in order to promote reverence and respect for Florida’s most valuable resource: ecosystems.
Samantha enjoys teaching her students about environmental protection and empowering her students to make a difference.
In her free time, she enjoys gardening, kayaking, paddle boarding, sand volleyball, and her dogs and cats (all rescues).
She has converted her lawn to a butterfly garden that is over seventy percent native plants and hosts numerous species of butterflies and birds as well as bees, rabbits, and more.
Over the course of 25 years, People for Trees has continually provided opportunities for people to interact with and embrace the natural world with events such as the annual Tree Fair since 1999 and the annual Tour de North Port bicycle ride since 2012, kayak outings and hikes featuring “The Hidden Jewel of North Port”, the Myakkahatchee Creek, and providing educational “Florida-friendly Yard” workshops.
Join us Tuesday, October 4 at 7pm at the Historic Green Street Church, 510 Indiana Ave., Englewood. Admission is free but donations for the upkeep of the iconic building will be greatly appreciated.


John’s wife Patty joins him in song.
A benefit concert for the Lemon Bay Historical Society will be held on Thursday, June 30th at 7 PM at the church, 510 Indiana Ave., Englewood.  
John Tuff is known around this area for his love of Classic Country Music, Gospel and music that is rooted in a love for the American Story.  John says, “My musician friends vary depending on time of year and availability but whoever plays with us will have a love for this community and a desire to do a great job.  We look forward to seeing you there.”
Join John singing along to the hits from radio days (Johnny, Waylan and Willie), gospel revivals and American ballads. This is a non-ticketed event but there will be an opportunity to make a donation to the Lemon Bay Historical Society for upkeep of the historic Green Street Church.

Event Schedule for 2022

Our next event at the historic Green Street Church,
510 S. Indiana Avenue, Englewood:
7pm, April 26:
Rhoda Clovis “Cyprus Gardens”

From the 1953 movie “Easy To Love” with Esther Williams, Rhoda Clovis is on the right.

Englewood’s own Rhoda Clovis will talk about her career as a model and water skier at Cypress Gardens during its heyday in the 1950s.
Rhoda has been a resident of Englewood for 54 years. She owned Rhoda’s Swimwear for 30 years.

We asked her how she became an Aquamaid:
”When I was 16, I was invited to spend a week at Beautiful Cypress Gardens to see if I was photogenic and had any Water skiing abilities (I had learned to ski on Lake Dora in Mt. Dora, Fl. Where I attended school.) I was asked to come back and work there after high school, but went on to the University of Florida. I eventually agreed to accept the position of water skier and model at Cypress Gardens.

“I married their head photographer, Trammell Pickett and moved to Sarasota and then Englewood.

“I have two wonderful sons who never left Englewood (Tram Pickett (co-owner of Berlin Sign Co) and Travis Pickett (Owner of Native Charters in Englewood). I have 4 grandchildren and 3 great grands.”
Rhoda appeared along with Esther Williams in the 1953 film “Easy To Love.”

Join us Tuesday, April 26 at 7pm at the Historic Green Street Church, 510 Indiana Ave., Englewood.

All are invited.
Admission is FREE but your tax-deductible contributions are always greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

About Cypress Gardens:

Cypress Gardens “Belles” Walking on Water
(Click for Larger View)

When Dick Pope Sr. opened his Cypress Gardens in 1936, the park in Winter Haven became Florida’s first large-scale tourist attraction. Pope turned marshland into a garden showplace for 8,000 varieties of plants and trees. By 1943, Cypress Gardens became known as the water ski capital of the world, attracting Hollywood stars and providing the setting for many movies. Cypress Gardens closed in 2009, becoming Legoland Florida Resort. Cypress Gardens remains as part of the attraction.