Some 40 years ago, we stumbled across the small town of McIntosh while taking a drive along US 441 between Ocala and Gainesville. Little did we know that we picked the day of their fall festival! Suddenly, we just had to stop and check it all out. Within minutes, we were transported to a different place and time and caught a glimpse of the 1890s!
Why the 1890s? This refers to the decade when the small town of McIntosh, 20 miles south of Gainesville, really took off and prospered. Horses were the main form of transportation, not cars. Why, by the late 1800s, they had everything they needed! They had a large hotel, school, church, various stores, an ice house, a millinery shop and a packing house. They could even boast of having their own Western Union, doctor and postmaster.
Since the 1930s, McIntosh has remained largely unchanged. At least 68 sites in town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many were built in the late 1800s. A good portion of them are beautiful older homes with well-tended yards. (Some homes are now bed and breakfasts.) History and preservation are important. How many small towns have a historic preservation meeting on the first Wednesday of every month?
The 50th Annual McIntosh 1890s Day Festival is October 14, 2023. The event is set up nicely for foot traffic along blocks of tree-lined streets. There will be 250 vendors selling arts and crafts, custom jewelry, and antiques. And there will be delicious food, too! I always look forward to the roasted corn on the cob or a good hot dog from the Lion’s Club. Who can resist kettle corn or homemade ice cream? Need a break to sit down? They have entertainment in the park all day long, with plenty of seating to enjoy some live music and songs.
You’ll see many historic buildings along the festival route, including the Wood and Swink Store and Post Office. This building of heart pine construction was built in 1884 and remains a working post office today. Sixteen of the original postal boxes are still in use, as well as other new ones they’ve added. The general store displays vintage 1930s and 1940s merchandise, much like a museum. None of it is for sale. However, the place today sells a few tourist items, such as postcards, local jams, jellies, and even fresh carrots or onions. You might get your mail and pick up vegetables from a local farmer at the same time. Maybe you’ll hear a bit of gossip, too. The McIntosh post office is a vibrant hub for this small community of 500 residents.
The Friends of McIntosh, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting this small community, organized the annual festival. Funds received are poured right back out. They’re used for cultural activities, recreation, beautification, and preservation. On October 14th, it’s expected that 30,000 to 40,000 people will visit and experience a bit of the past, a piece of “old Florida.” If you come, you’ll see a glimpse of the 1890s!
Other places of interest:
Coon Hollo Farm
A 5th generation family farm and attraction
2 miles north of McIntosh
Open weekends: Oct 6–Nov. 5
Pumpkins, Crop Maze, and Country Store
New Wild West Show
Games. Farm Animals.
Admission is $14 for all activities.
Micanopy Fall Festival (48th year)
Located about 6 miles north of McIntosh
Follow signs from US 441
Festival on Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29
Starting at 9 am, free admission
See Arts and Crafts in a small-town setting
Antiques, food and live auction
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
18700 S. Co. Rd. 325
Cross Creek, FL, 32640
Open daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Nature trails and historic houses and farms
Rawlings house tours set to begin October 1, 2023
Author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Published “The Yearling” in 1938 and
Won a 1939 Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
The Yearling Restaurant
About 13 miles from Micanopy
14531 East Co. Rd. 325
Hawthorne, FL 32640
Open Thursday-Sunday starting 12 noon
Closing time varies from 8 to 9 pm
Featuring grouper, catfish, scallops, oysters and crabs