It’s a fair question. If you are reading this column online, or in the Suwannee Democrat or the Mayo Free Press, you don’t have to drive through here in your daily travels. The Towns of Live Oak, Branford, Mayo and Dowling Park probably meet your occasional shopping and culinary needs. Even folks who live in Hamilton County only pass through White Springs because it’s on their way to Lake City. Why on earth would you want to stop White Springs?

Let me tempt you. As I said last week, “The Town of White Springs, particularly the White Springs Historic District, is a bit of a time machine.”

White Springs has now got what is probably the most unique hardware store in North Florida. It’s a tourist attraction! Located in the Old Adams Country Store, this hardware store carries all the modern tools and conveniences of any modern small town hardware store, but when you step through their door, you step back into the 1800’s. The original architecture is intact, including the wooden floors, high ceilings, and many of the old display cases. Walking through the building you’ll see the walls accented with old tools such as crosscut timber saws and scythes. Don’t know what a scythe is? Look it up. If you wait for Father Time to explain it, it will be the last thing you ever learn!

As I wandered around inside the building I noticed that the original old cashier’s cage is still intact, as is the massive old safe, and the even bigger, wooden sided, electric powered walk-in cooler. It was a modern marvel in its day and now it is an amazing antique. Outside in the yard I encountered the old original Fairbanks Morse Scale that was used to weigh the wagons of crops that were brought to the Adams Country Store for wholesale resale. And nearby, an antique buggy stood next to the brick floor of what was once the town’s old horse stable. This place is on the historic register and it’s more than a hardware store, it’s a History/Hardware store! The new bigger building and yard, four times bigger, means that there will be a new and expanded inventory, including lumber, gardening and livestock supplies and, soon, pick your own eggs and chicken coops! And there are plenty of locally sourced culinary items and crafts that will make excellent gifts. I’m telling you, you gotta come see this place. It’s a poster child for “shopping local.” The Big Box stores cannot match this experience!

Suwannee Hardware and Feed in White Springs is now open and they will be having an official Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Feb. 28, at 11 a.m. There will be a grand celebration of this great new business in this grand old building. Barbeque and refreshments will be available and a local textile artist will be giving a spinning demonstration. Who knows what else? Show up and find out!

Another good reason to come to White Springs? Miles of hiking and biking and canoeing trails. I know of five residential properties that were sold to people who so love the nature tourism aspects of White Springs that they wanted to have a home here. Now, you don’t have to buy property here to come and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of our town. Just come see us!

And then there is music. An abundance of it occurs throughout the year, including free 6 p.m. Friday night concerts/jam sessions at the old nature and heritage tourism center across from The Suwannee Hardware/Old Adams Country Store. Also, there is a “SAVE OUR BELLS” benefit concert at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park on the banks of the Suwannee River, Sunday, Feb. 23, starting at 4 p.m. This extraordinary concert is featuring Florida Folk legacy performers, Jeanie Fitchen, Joe Mark and Mark Smith. Tickets for the concert can be purchased from the CSO and will be $20. Limited seating is available so get your tickets early. Please call the park for more details at 386-397-2733. For more information and donations for the restoration of the carillon bell tower, contact the CSO at 386-397-2733. SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, Feb. 23, starting at 4 p.m. in the Auditorium at Stephen Foster State Park.

Have you got a teddy bear? This Thursday, Feb. 13, you can bring your teddy bear or other stuffed animals to White Springs Library between the hours of 1 and 6 p.m. to spend the night. Come back the next afternoon to pick them up and see what they've been up to. The possibilities are exciting and endless!

There are more reasons to come to White Springs, but I don’t want to give them to you all at once. It could cause a stampede! I mean, if you all come to town at once there might be more than two cars backed up at the caution light, and we just can’t have that kind of traffic jam!

Lastly, I sometimes get the question of why do I write about the things I write about? Do I get kickbacks, free meals, free stuff from the places I write about? The answer is not only “No,” but “Oh @#%* No!” I write about things that are good for the people of White Springs and good for the people who visit White Springs. Good for, you know, “Life in White Springs.”

Sometimes it’s just me, spouting off about my wonderful little town, almost always in a positive way, but sometimes I write about things that I’m requested to write about. You know, the church yard sale, the big birthday, the grand opening, the big event. I care about these things. If you request a mention of Sally’s Baby Shower, I just might do it. If it’s about Bubba’s bachelor bash, I promise you I’ll read it. I might even enjoy it. But, publish it? Probably not. Send it to me, whatever it is. We’ll see what happens! But remember, I do not and will not accept gratuities to write about what you ask me to. As corny as it sounds, I do it because I love it!

So, it’s plain to see that I love writing this column, but I always appreciate your help! Let me hear from you. I am thankful that we can depend on each other, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.

Walter McKenzie

386-303-1394

lifeinwhitesprings@gmail.com

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