Drained after four days of government writing with thoughts toward the weekend:
— Strawberry Festival! Need I say more? Floral City and Floral Park are the places to be this weekend for the 36th annual Floral City Strawberry Festival.
I love the Strawberry Festival — who doesn’t? — and we need it. We need the distraction, we need the fun, we need to get out in the sun on an un-winter-like winter day.
The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, of which Just Wright Citrus is a proud member, sponsors the Strawberry Fest. Volunteers will roam the grounds Saturday and Sunday, seeing to every detail, ensuring a good time.
I can’t stress enough the significance of this event, especially now.
In case you haven’t noticed, a few people have moved into our county in the last 18 months. We’re now stacked behind red lights on State Road 44 or stuck in a long line going nowhere on U.S. 41.
Folks who have called Citrus home for a few years are a little nervous. They see this growth and wonder what’s happened to our little corner of paradise.
Then the Floral City Strawberry Festival shows up on the calendar and, guess what, we can forget about that stuff for a few days. The roads will still be crowded on Monday, but we’ll be refreshed from a weekend where we mingle with our neighbors and visitors, and realize things are not as bad as they sometimes look.
Community dies in isolation. It is so encouraging to see large numbers of people from all walks of life, enjoying the spectacle of a festival with the only question being whether to have a third strawberry shortcake or not.
(Answer: Of course!)
— Strawberries not your thing? The Citrus County Mosquito Control District has an open house Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its headquarters on C.R. 491 just south of C.R. 486 in Lecanto.
It’s quite a shock to most newcomers to learn we have a separate government for killing skeeters. It’s run by a 3-member board of directors who are elected, just like county commissioners and governors.
My friend Joe Adams and his wife Stephanie are both on the board, as is Arthur “AJ” Green, and they earn the same type of part-time pay as a city council person. While we may snicker at electing people for such a single-minded task, these folks really know their stuff.
Politically, not much weight there. Candidates often mistakenly believe Mosquito Control Board prepares them for higher office, but that’s not the case at all. I can’t think of a single skeeter board member who used that experience for something bigger.
Oh, except Crystal River City Manager Ken Frink! In a prior lifetime, Frink was elected to the mosquito control board, served four years, re-elected without opposition but then resigned before his second term after getting hired as county public works director.
(I didn’t ask Ken whether he highlighted the Mosquito Control Board position on his city manager resume. Me, I would have led with it.)
Some other board members served several years. My point: These folks take the role seriously.
I’m sure they’d appreciate the citizens they serve coming by Saturday to see what it’s all about.
— Looking ahead to next weekend, we’ve got the Big Bass Bluegrass and BBQ in Inverness. The bass tournament takes place Saturday, March 11 on Big Lake Henderson, so I get a front-row seat from the Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters.
I can't ignore bluegrass and BBQ. There’s a kickoff party the night before at the Depot, and said bluegrass/BBQ on Saturday at Liberty Park.
Let me tell you about this Depot District: It’s awesome, beautiful, the kind of community park concept that any city would dream of having. Inverness has it. INVERNESS. We shouldn’t forget how special that is right in our community.
And I can’t mention next weekend without a shoutout to Friends of the Citrus County Libraries, which has its mega spring book sale Friday, March 10-Monday, March 13 at the Citrus County Fair Auditorium. Always finding surprising treasurers and it’s four solid days of community.
— We have issues, no doubt. A heaping pile of challenges on our plate. But, by golly, we live in a place that enjoys camaraderie, much like a fellowship. This weekend, next weekend, I’m leaving my troubles at home to share in the Citrus County we all know.
See you out there.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.