Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Back to Basics in Barberville

On my first visit to the Barberville Pioneer Settlement I virtually had the entire place to myself. As a fan of Old Florida architecture, I was in heaven. The collection of buildings that make up the settlement is spectacular. But when I pulled up on Saturday, a sheriff's deputy pointed me to a parking lot in a field a quarter mile away from the action. The line waiting on a shuttle bus was long and I was pleased that hundreds of other folks had chosen to spend the first chilly day of Autumn at the Fall Country Jamboree.

The Barberville Pioneer Settlement, located just north of DeLeon Springs near the eastern edge of the St. Johns River, began in 1976 as the Barberville Settlement for the Creative Arts. The primary structure is a wonderfully restored schoolhouse, but the grounds are full of historic structures including a railroad depot, church, Cracker cabin, and shotgun shack. On my first visit to the Fall Jamboree, it was immediately apparent that I needed to shift my focus from the architecture of the place to the people packing it, as the grounds of the museum were full of interesting faces.

I was soon engulfed in music: Bluegrass, Folk, Roots music, and old fashioned Country Music. There were stages on the back of the Pierson railroad depot, in the little country church, in the rustic barn, and in spots scattered throughout the grounds. But many times the musicians would simply find an unoccupied piece of real estate, take out their instruments and break into impromptu song. In some cases, that's where the best music came from.

My Father came from the Appalachians and I grew up listening to Country Music, Southern Gospel, and Bluegrass. As a kid I loved rock and roll, and hated it when my Dad would play his Willie Nelson eight track over and over and over... But as I've grown older, I find that somehow his musical tastes have wormed their way into my subconscious, and when I hear the music my Dad loved, I have strong emotional connection to it. In short, as I wondered the grounds of this Old Florida celebration, my heart was full and I had a tear in my eye every time I heard one my Pop's favorite tunes. He passed away less than a year ago, and I think of him often, especially at gatherings like this one.

But I was not the only one who seemed to be have a grand time on this day. Just take look at the photos. There is another celebration in Barberville in the Spring. I'll be back.


  1. I wish I had known about this before it happened. I live a short drive away and would have surely attended.

  2. Mike- check my Old Florida page on Facebook. I try to post events like this whenever I hear about hem. Two in Osceola County coming up this weekend.

    1. I visited the Old Florida Facebook page but the button to "follow" was greyed out.

  3. I would like to mention that on the first Saturday of every month at the Barberville Pioneer Settlement there are free music workshops on almost all stringed instruments including fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, bass and ukulele and harmonica. Pay admission to the park and take all the lessons you want for free. Then have some lunch and then we jam until 4pm. Classes start at 10am