Courtesy photo ThisÊ1924 Ford Model T owned by Louis Lagoni of Avon Park will be on display in front of the Depot Museum during Saturday'sÊOktoberfest.
published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
AP Museum, Dining Car offer 'Oktoberfest-ivities'
Special to the News-Sun
AVON PARK - Food, fun, festivities - that sums up what you'll find from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the fifth annual Avon Park Oktoberfest, taking place along Main Street and Museum Avenue. Oh, yes, something new: free shuttle rides from Main Street to the museum, thanks to Bill Jarrett Ford.
And if Museum Avenue is in the picture, so is the Depot Museum and Railroad Dining Car. Inside the museum, you'll be entertained (and enlightened) by Jimmie Garner Butts, wearing period clothing and playing the role of Emma Crosby, wife of the founder of the city, as she tells tales highlighting the events that have given the city its flavor. Her presentation will be repeated throughout the day.
Also in the museum you'll find a video program on what can be called the early days of tourism in Florida for middle-class northerners. This movement, better known as the Tin Can Tourists, was an international organization that united autocampers (that is, tourists who lived in, slept and ate out of their Model T Fords in the 1920s).
As they made their way south, these Tin Canners encountered few roads, few gas stations, few restaurants, no motels, no campgrounds (until later). They loaded up their car with canned food, extra gas, spare tires, bedding and water ... and anything else that might add to their comfort. Since there were so many Tin Canners, communities all over Florida clamored to take advantage of this boost to local economies. Even Avon Park got in the act, hosting some 200 tourists at Donaldson Park in 1938 and again in 1939 for a week or more of camping (and buying).
Outside the museum, a 1924 Model T "Doctor's Coupe," owned by Louis Lagoni of Avon Park, will be on display, as will a 1962 camper chiefly made by P.O. Goff, former industrial arts class instructor at Avon Park High School. The camper reflects the time before campers were manufactured, a time when some folks were willing to "do it themselves." Both Lagoni and Goff will be on hand Saturday to talk about these times when tourism was in its infancy.
And what's up in the air-conditioned 1948 Leoma Maxell Railroad Dining Car? You'll find historical society members serving up a variety of homemade cobblers, ice cream and ice-cold beverages.
For more information, call the museum at 453-3525, the Avon Park Chamber of Commerce at 453-3350, or Museum director Elaine Levey at 385-8618.
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