South to Citra and the McIntosh Festival

Two years ago we selected Grand Lake RV Resort in Citra, FL, from the Passport America list as a good short term stopping point before we began bouncing around the state visiting friends and family.  Our timing was quite fortuitous in that we were able to participate in their semi-annual community wide yard sale.  It was the easiest “market” we have ever done; we simply set up a table in front of our site and sold a modest amount of jewelry with a fraction of the effort we would have spent on a traditional event.  It worked out so well that we made minor adjustments to our scheduled return to Central Florida in 2017 in order to do it again to even greater success. 

Our site at Grand Lake RV Resort: $20 a night all in, full hook up, 50 amps.

Both years a number of the long term and seasonal residents asked us why we weren’t doing “the big festival up the road” or something to that effect.  So this year, admittedly rather late in the game, we did a bit of research and inquired about vending at the annual McIntosh 1890’s Festival just a few miles away.  The tiny town of McIntosh, about 450 residents, hosts this one day extravaganza, with hundreds of vendors arrayed long multiple blocks in their historical district.  They estimate 30 to 35 thousand visitors for the festival in recent years.

Of course, we were too late, they were full up vendor-wise, but they could put us on the cancellation list if we sent them (by regular mail only!) an official request and pictures of what we sold.  Which we did, thinking it was a long shot and resigning ourselves, not unhappily, to another year at the community wide event at Grand Lake (which they intentionally schedule on the same day as the McIntosh festival in hopes of getting some bleed over traffic.)  But a couple of weeks before the event we received a call from the vendor organizer, Beverly, to let us know they had a late cancellation and we were welcome to participate.  Yay, us.

Just after dawn on festival day, already half set up.

Rosemarie went gangbusters on the jewelry and home decor items to significantly increase our inventory in hopeful anticipation of a big crowd intent on spending.   Come game day we headed out before dawn with Loki loaded to the gills.  The McIntosh event, despite functioning entirely by mail and phone, is incredibly well organized.  There was plenty of signage to direct us to vendor check in, where they provided directions to our site marked with a numbered stake which we would use to reclaim our vehicle from vendor parking at the end of the event.  With so many vendors trying to unload on narrow streets, there was a bit of chaos, but less than you would expect for a festival of this size, probably because a good portion of the sellers had apparently set up the night before.

Crowds like this until the mid afternoon.

Well before the official start, festival goers started to arrive, with a trickle rapidly growing into a crowd.  We sold steadily throughout the day, and even with the $150 table fee, the most we have ever paid, it was still a record setting market for us.  We both took a brief opportunity to explore a block or two of other vendors, but not nearly as much as we would have liked; we were just too busy.   We certainly had plenty of food options, and the big pretzel and gyro we eventually decided upon were fantastic. 

We had steady business most of the day.

The break down was far more chaotic and stress inducing than the set up since every vendor was trying to retrieve their vehicle, many of which were trailers or vans, and maneuver the narrow streets around other vendor vehicles.  We are fortunate that Loki is so small; I was able to park him in a close spot few others could manage.  We made our escape and arrived back at Grand Lake tired but elated.  Another bit of good news is that now that we have participated, we are on the automatic invite list for next year, so we won’t have to hope for a cancellation.

Next up:  Mount Dora and our first Lake Mary market this season.

5 thoughts on “South to Citra and the McIntosh Festival

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