Friday, November 6, 2009

Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival!!

Ally is with us this weekend, so we are enjoying a bit of family time aboard Equinox here in Jensen Beach. We feel so lucky to have found such a neat area of's close enough to the airports but with an old world, old time Florida atmosphere and style around here. And, as luck would also have it, this weekend is the Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival! Not knowing much about Jensen Beach or the history of this area, I've been asking folks about it, and reading up about it! It's pretty cool!
Ally with the Sonic Hot of the Pineapple Festival
sponsors, apparently. He loved Ally!

The history of Jensen Beach reaches back to the 1500s when the Ais Indians inhabited the area. The land changed hands over the years from the Spaniards to the Seminoles, until the mid 1800s, when settlers began homesteading land in the area. It was tough going, as the area's isolation and irregular transport by coastal schooners caused crops to often spoil. Fresh water from the St. Lucie River killed the saltwater fish as grasses flourished and oyster beds died out. In 1844, the homesteaders dug an inlet at Gilbert's Bar, a narrow neck of land at the St. Lucie River, which allowed the Indian River's salinity to rebound and the fishing industry flourished.

In 1881, John Laurence Jensen, a settler from Denmark moved to the area, and he and other newcomers started planting pineapples. By 1894, with Robert Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad now reaching the area, transportation to market was reliable, and within a year, Jensen Beach was named the "Pineapple Capital of the World", shipping out 1 million boxes of pineapples during the summer months. Unfortunately, the pineapple industry suffered agricultural setbacks, which combined with expensive freight rates caused the plantations to decline rapidly. In 1908 and 1910, the town was devastated by two major fires that reduced the bustling city to a quiet village that continues to this day. Today, citrus trees, key limes, guavas and mangos grow in many backyards, and some folks still have a pineapple patch.

Since 1988, Jensen Beach has been celebrating its unique history with the Pineapple Festival, a family event for all. There are musical headliners including Pat Green, Julianne Hough, Honor Society among others. The best part (from our point of view) is that the festival has a unique history with Gregory Town, Bahamas -- Jensen Beach's sister city in the Bahamas -- and two of the most popular bands in the Bahamas will be here too: The Brilanders and Eleuthera Express. We're very excited to be able to see them!!

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