Wewahitchka, Florida. Have you ever heard of this town? Can you even pronounce it? Mrs. Funmeister and I decided to stop waiting for “when.” So we began looking for places and things to enjoy “now.” That, despite a small budget and a limited amount of time.One of our initial forays has been to Florida’s Tupelo Honey Festival.
It’s a Tradition
Since 1941, local beekeepers have gathered there to show their wares and display their collections of this much sought after product. It’s made by literally hundreds of thousands of bees who have worked the local Tupelo trees.
The area southwest of Tallahassee is one of the few places these finicky trees will grow and once a year they put out blossoms the bees can work.
We Decided to Go
From where we sit, it is every bit of an eight hour trip even in the best of circumstances. For this journey we decided to take the back way for at least part of the trip. So we set out with our sights set on another little-known stop. The historic Putnam Lodge in scenic Shamrock, Florida – just north of Cross City.
We jumped off I-75 just south of Gainsville and wound our way around to the old Dixie Highway then on to our destination.
An Historic Stay
Putnam Lodge was built in 1927 by the Putnam Lumber Company. It is part of a bygone era in Florida’s forestry history. The restored and modernized Putnam Lodge offers 25 guest rooms with a choice of kings, queens, suites. We chose a modest room with a queen that was quite comfortable, (although we’d suggest a room at the back of the lodge with a better view and away from the highway.)
Nevertheless, we had a great night’s sleep. We were fortunate as the traffic dies down significantly overnight.
Being that the lodge is a product of the Putnam Lumber Company, the woodwork is stunning. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled “pecky cypress.” This is an extremely attractive and now virtually extinct lumber product. There are meeting facilities for groups of 25-30, facilities for weddings and parties of up to 250, and a full service restaurant and bar.
Before leaving we took a tour of the facilities and were quite impressed. So we walked about, crews continued the renovations with work on the ample covered outdoor entertainment area. It comes replete with its own bar.
For fishermen on the nearby Suwannee River, the lodge even features facilities so you can “clean and cook your catch.”
Stayed There – Ate There
Mrs Funmeister and I dined at the hotel restaurant. They tout the services of Chef Jeno Koch. My Pasta Primevera was a bit overcooked and the sauce was runny. However, my wife’s Pasta Marinara was made from tomatoes & basil fresh from their own kitchen garden. It was very tasty,
Both came with generous sprigs of fresh cut basil which was a nice touch.
The salads were delicious. We learned that many of the ingredients were taken from their own gardens outside the Lodge.
One of the best parts of the evening was the “Music by Krista.” Krista Carol Campbell performs an extensive playlist of tunes She pulls from a wide variety of rock, country and pop selections – ranging from the present back into the 1940s. Krista sings both from backup tracks and also plays a classic antique Fender flattop guitar with a great deal of acumen.
For our breakfast we backtracked briefly to Momma’s Dixie Kitchen. The place is run by “Tammy and Jody.” Nestled along the US Highway 27 in Old Town, we ffound it to be the quintessential example of southern comfort food. From “Momma’s Traditional Breakfasts” to a wide selection of “sammiches” there’s a lot to choose from. It has drawn rave reviews from both locals and travelers.
On to the Festival
We then jumped back on the Dixie Highway to Tallahassee and after a brief layover, again took the back roads west through Trenton, Bristol and Blountstown – then south to Wewahitchka.
We found the Tueplo Honey Festival already in swing. It was packed with people. There were dozens of booths, exhibits and displays in and around Lake Alice Park – where the festival is held.
The festivities were peppered with a mixture of food, arts & crafts booths and of course, lots and lots of honey. Among the local apiaries represented were Smiley Honey, R&J Apiaries and L.L. Lanier and Sons Tupelo Honey.
The folks at Lanier told us that this year’s honey crop had been “a great disappointment.” Apparently everything had been perfect for a record-breaking year. The bees were strong, the weather was almost perfect, and the river had been up most of the year – but there ended up less honey than last spring due to heavy rains that caused the blooms to drop early..
However, we determined the honey that was harvested to be of great quality.
From the consumer side, we didn’t see any of the shortage. There appeared to be plenty of honey at the festival. Although the largest size available was the two-pound bottle with a base price of $18 per pound, there also was no price break on bulk purchases.
To augment their offerings, some of the vendors offered other varieties including; wildflower, orange blossom, buckwheat, bamboo, gallberry, sourwood, goldenrod and cotton among others.
We purchased a lot and a wide variety and all of it has been well worth the price.
The Tupelo Honey Festival was a wonderful little gathering as festivals go and Wewahitchke is a cute little town. Although it is a long trip, the roads are good and the traffic is not bad (except on the interstates.) The festival always is held on the third weekend in May.
We recommend it to travelers looking for something fun and unique. Visit our Florida Fun Travel Facebook page or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.