These days, the Winter Park Farmers’ Market draws thousands of locals and tourists alike — a far cry from its humble beginnings on a gravel parking lot.
Lisa Griffin remembers working the first Winter Park Farmers Markets with her mother, the then-owner of The Lemonade Stand business in the first years it opened. It was much different than it is today, according to the owner of the lemonade business.
“Thirty-three years, I’ve been doing it,” Griffin said. “It was just a gravel road parking lot; it isn’t like it is now. It was very small and quaint. Just a few customers, just a few vendors. Much different than what it is now. It was profitable but definitely what it isn’t today.”
Eventually, that gravel road parking lot was bricked over and changed into the bustling city market that thousands of residents and visitors travel frequent each weekend today.
On Saturday, May 18, the city of Winter Park will celebrate one of its oldest events with a 40th anniversary bash. Starting at 10 a.m., the city will have a special presentation during which vendors are awarded with acknowledgement and a token of appreciation. Winter Park mayors past and present also will be part of the event to recognize the market’s history.
The celebration will have a kids zone with face-painting along with a new dog fashion show where the best-looking canines will compete for special prizes. Through a series of discounts and specials, there also will be a series of door gifts and raffles provided by the event’s vendors.
Although there is no way to get a definite head count, the city is expecting more than 3,000 visitors to attend the event throughout the day.
“It’s one of the oldest markets around,” said Ronnie Moore, events manager for the city of Winter Park. “We’re just trying to go back and enhance and bring some history from it to the table.”
Griffin said her parents business, which she eventually helped run with her mother, actually sold a mix of jams, jellies and lemonade. Eventually, the lemonade won out. Some of those years selling lemonade were tougher than others, but the business owner said the last 10 have been more than profitable.
“Winter Park at that time had a well-known name, but it wasn’t a tourist event,” she said. “Now today, it’s a tourist stop. We get busloads of people and lots of visitors from other countries. … Back in the day, most everyone was from Winter Park that came to the market.”
Griffin eventually assumed full control of the lemonade stand and worked it with her children, as well. She has been to almost every market each year since those early days — minus a class graduation or two — and said it is somewhat of a tradition.
“I think it’s amazing something has lasted that long,” she said. “It’s amazing people have supported it for this long and that we’re all still able to do it.”
IF YOU GO
Winter Park Farmers’ Market 40th Anniversary Celebration
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Registration starts at 9:30 am, show follows 10 a.m. program.
WHERE: 200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
CONTACT: (407) 599-3341