Posts Tagged ‘Amelia Island Activities’
Yes, that title is a mouthful, but so was the barbecue at the last weekend’s Great Southern Tailgate Cook-Off. Held on Amelia Island for the second year, it featured expert barbecue teams from all around the south. Having tasted several, I have to say they were great at their chosen profession or hobby! Crowds were good and every where you looked people were enjoying their favorite version of barbecue. Pulled pork, ribs, chicken were all available and the smell of wood fired cookers filled the air. Visitors could also get smoothies, funnel cakes, fries, onion rings and beverages. Held at main beach with ocean backdrops, it was a fun event with great views.
- July 4 parade – Fernandina Beach
The July 4th holiday yielded lots of activity on Fernandina Beach including an event with specialty vehicles, games and live band at Central Park during the early hours. In the evening, a traditional parade with police, fireman, military and citizens was held. Later the same day, a free concert was held down by the waterfront and fireworks followed at 9:30 pm. It was fairly crowded on the Island with lot’s of folks enjoying the shops, restaurants, Fort Clinch (with reenac tments) and lot’s of local activities. We were full at the Williams House and in fact July in total was one of our busier months this year. We also had a small wedding on the Holiday weekend which we will cover later in another blog.
Byron’s brother Gary visited recently from Raleigh, NC and we had the opportunity to introduce him to one of our favorite local attractions, Fort Clinch, an historical Florida State Park. Started as part of the United States coastal defense system before the civil war, it never really saw action although Union soldiers occupied the fort during the war. It was worked on again as part of the 1930′s WPA projects as were many of these early forts. Since then it has been worked on with volunteers and donations and is largely intact and complete. It is usually manned by at least one soldier in period uniform who will gladly enlighten you on what life was like in the fort during the 1860′s. On the first weekend of each month in the summer, reenactments are staged with larger numbers of soldiers joining the historic setting. There are numerous tunnel like alley ways to and from various parts of the fort, cannons atop the walls, gun turrets, a dry moat, powder rooms, officer and enlisted quarters, jail, kitchen and blacksmith shop. The fort is about four miles from the current Fernandina Beach historic district and sits at the northern most point of Amelia Island. There is beach access and a fishing pier within the park as well. Views north to the south end of Cumberland Island are available from atop the river side walls. We always encourage guests at the Williams House to find time to visit this little piece of history and try to imagine what life was like on Amelia Island in the 1800′s.
We recently had friends visiting from North Carolina and arranged for a river cruise to treat them to local views and history. We’ve been several times and are always impressed by learning something new on each trip, and on this particular visit, we were fortunate to get a very close up view of the wild horses, which histroically we have only seen from a distance. It was a strange day in that fires burning in the okefenokee swamp had created a smoke haze for the early part of the trip, giving the views a nostalgic old fashioned feeling.
These cruises are popular with Williams House guests since you get to see shrimp boats, Fort Clinch from the river, Old Town and the Pippi Longstocking house, beaches, marshes, the port, the paper mill, Cumberland Island, wild horses, flying manta rays, dolphins, and in our case the Dungeness ruins. In addition there is a history lesson on from the early days of the island to the present made interesting by your hosts on the tour. It’s a liesurely tour with great views. There are three cruises daily including morning, mid day and sunset.
We always love to see guests return to the Williams House and the Goffs and Williams returned for Shimp Fest this year to establish a new record for guest continuity. It is the sixteenth year they have returned and stayed at the Williams House for this event. Same rooms each year….if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And, of course already slated to be back next year in the same rooms for the 17th time! They are of course the dream guest for every innkeeper that hopes to create loyalty and enjoy the return of familiar faces and friends. They even share wine with us when we have a moment to sit and catch up. We also enjoy seeing their “treaure finds” from days searching the shrimp festival for that perfect item or piece of art. We look forward to next year already!
One of our favorite times on Amelia Island and the largest festival is the Shrimp Festival, held the first weekend of May each year. Festivities begin with a parade on Thursday evening and it is the longest of the year at over and hour. Many residents, businesses and associations participate and awards are given for the best float linking in the parade theme. It is truly a family affair with many children participating and many more lining the streets to get glimpses of all the fun floats and characters from pirates to Disney type costumes. Of course pirates abound and the parade closes with the pirate ship firing loud and smokey guns and cannon. Candy and beads are given out to spectators and everyone vies for the most collected and greatest variety. This is our sixth year of attending and viewing from the Williams House and this was the first year threatened by rain. But, rain came just before the parade, stopped for the hour plus of the parade and resumed again soon thereafter. Once again the parade was dry and fun! Enjoy the attached pictures.
We are fortunate on Amelia Island to have both sunrise and sunset opportunities to enjoy nature’s beauty. A recent walk down Ash street to the harbor led to the attached photos of a nice sunset at the Marina. Whether its boats, buildings or people framing them with a setting sun highlights the golden tones of an evening. We hope you enjoy these and come and enjoy them personally at the Williams House.
When Europeans first arrived in Florida and Amelia Island, the Timucua Indians inhabitated the area known as Old Town. Occupying 40 acres between the Amelia River, Egans Creek and Bosque Bello cemetery this was the sight of early Spanish missions. In 1597 Father Micahel Aunon and his group were massacred after denouncing polygamy and angering local native inhabitants. Military outposts were later established. In 1808 the spansih controlled Amelia Island and a town began on the bluff looking over the Amelia River and near the entrance of Egan’s Creek. The US Embargo act prohibiting trade with England and France and the abolition of slavery was likely responsible for growth as Fernandina became a smuggler’s paradise with easy access to Georgia just across the Amelia River. In 1811, streets were set in place by Surveyor General Don Jorge Clarke within the 1573 Spanish Law of the Indies. Clarke placed a public plaza on the edge of the river known as Plaza de la Constitution. Although none of the original Old Town structures survived, the plaza, now called Plaza San Carlos still exists as a Florida State Park.
Last weekend, Old Town or the original Fernandina celebrated its bi-centennial with open houses, music, food, pirates and historic presentations. Deborah and I were able to visit and tour old town and it was interesting to see where it all started for Amelia Island and Fernandina. The U.S. purchased Florida from the Spanish in 1819, it became an official territory in 1821 and achieved statehood in 1845. The town of Fernandina was “moved” to the other side of the marsh in 1853 and renamed Fernandina Beach. This was accomplished at the urging of David Yulee to ease building of the railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key on the gulf coast creating the first cross Florida access for trade. Old Town didn’t completely disapear as some of the sea captains found it to be a convenient location but the center of commerce clearly shifted to the new location. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and improved in 1998 with enhanced streets Old Town now has numerous residents who enjoy the tranquility, beauty and history it offers. In addition, archaelogical digs have confirmed it has been occupied by humans for thousands of years.
Shared below are the sights and history of Old Town as unveiled by last weekends celebration.