A Taste of History, Participants

In days of yore….

3-24-23 Poor Anne! Broken foot and sprained knee means we’ll be missing her on History Day! Best wishes for a swift recovery, Anne! Yes, that’s right, Southwest Florida doesn’t have centuries of recorded history. But that’s okay… lots of other places do, and lots of Floridians love to read about olden times. History Day in the Park is pleased to welcome prolific author Anne Easter Smith, whose specialty is Ye Olde England.

And you’ll have plenty to read with all of Anne’s books!


Our Authors

A wide variety of Florida authors will be on hand during History Day in the Park, for chatting, selling, autographing their books.

Some of our authors will be in the Keith Mansion Library (along with our Raffle Prizes, our speakers, our dolls and toys evaluators/displayers/ sellers, living history reenactors and Historical Resources), and some will be in the exhibits field. Don’t miss a single one!

Let’s start with Jeff LaHurd, whose presence is being sponsored by the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation. Jeff is also a director of the Historical Society of Sarasota County, a prolific author and beloved repository and presenter of our local history. Catch him at the SAHP booth in the exhibits field fronting on Tamiami Rail.

Jeff LaHurd

Richard Cronin is the author of more than 20 books on central Florida history, and will be launching his latest, To Sarasota, with Love, Orlando, during History Day. Look for him in the exhibits field, where every hour on the quarter hour, he will present a different “Snippet of History”, a quick 10 minute voyage into happenings you probably didn’t know about Sarasota County.

David John Turner became fascinated, as a docent at Selby Garden, on just how this marvelous garden came to be, on some of the most valuble lnd in downtown Sarasota. Follow the story, presented in a smooth-flowing, almost novel-like narrative, and meet the author of Land of Selby Gardens.

Author Henry Duggan has written Silver’s Odyssey,  telling the story of a 1622 Spanish shipwrecked soldier. After being thrown off the Atocha galleon in a hurricane off the Florida Keys, he must survive a 4-year trek through wilderness Florida enroute back to Spain.

Anne Easter Smith ventures back in history and Across The Pond. She is an award-winning historical fiction novelist with a series of six books set in the Wars of the Roses. She is first and foremost a storyteller, whose passion for her period makes an emotional connection with her characters, both real and imaginary, as she brings history to life.

DL Havlin’s credo:  I endeavor to create characters that are someone you’d like to meet, someone you’d despise, someone you’d fear, someone you’d root for…someone you can emotionally identify with, yet are characters that have realism emanating from them. His motto, when writing, is “Open Minds, Open Books” and as such, he writes all sorts of fascinating books, ranging from history to horror. His book, Blue Water, Red Blood won the Florida Writers Association, Royal Palm Literary Award.

Brenda M. Spalding is a prolific award-winning author. She is a past president of the National League of American Pen Women- Sarasota Branch, a member of the Sarasota Authors Connection, Sarasota Fiction Writers, Florida Authors and Publishers, and a co-founding member and current president of ABC Books Inc. Braden River Consulting LLC was formed to help other authors on their creative journey.

From a veteran of the political wars waged inside the U.S. government comes an intricately plotted story of a revenge-fueled terrorist determined to destroy America and the only man who can stop him. Kevin Kuhens, author, is a retired supervisory special agent for the US Department of Defense and the author of Terror’s Sword, A Kyle McEwan Novel, the first of his thrillers involving the elite counterterrorism case officer.

And you can help support the Friends of Gulf Gate Library, who will be selling donated gently-used books, in the Keith Library. Featuring books about Florida or by Florida authors, any purchase or donation you make goes directly towards their mission of financing ongoing programs and talks which so enhance our community.

If you love a good book, and love, as our authors do, the idea of supporting the formation of our Interpretive History Center of 6000 Years of Life on the Creek in the Historic Keith Farmhouse, come on out, meet the authors, and purchase their books directly from them on Saturday March 25, 2023 from 10am to 5pm! All book sales go directly to the author.

Historic Groups Participating, Participants

Have you ever seen a clown… become a clown?

History Day in the Park is so honored that ChuckO the Clown has donated his most-requested appearance… how a clown makes himself up… to the cause of raising funds to create the Interpretive History Center of 6000 Years of Life on Phillippi Creek in the historic Keith Farmhouse.

Find out all ChuckO does to bring joy to this world!

On Saturday March 25 2023, ChuckO will show us just how a clown becomes this most iconic and beloved of circus performers. Be sure to come early, grab some lunch at the food trucks, and watch Chuck become ChuckO the Clown at 1:30!


It’s Barbie’s day to shine!

Edit 3-21-23 Unfortunately, our friend Marl has broken her arm! She will not be able to attend History Day in the Park. March 9 is National Barbie Day! In 1959, an 11-inch tall bombshell made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Designed by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel Inc., Barbie was created to allow girls to imagine what their lives could be like in the future. She’s had a slew of careers, from a registered nurse to an astronaut. And she’s done it all with a companion. Barbie was a single lady for all of 2 years. But in 1961, overwhelming demand caused Handler to release a boyfriend for her — Ken. (Verdict’s out if he’s ever going to put a ring on it.) On National Barbie Day, we celebrate all things Barbie. From Nationaltoday.com

Bring your Barbies for appraisal, or fill in your collection at the Marlbe.com exhibit within the Mansion on Saturday March 25. We will have appraisers and dealers in toys and playthings of the past, so plan to come to History Day in the Park from 10-5.

A Taste of History, Participants

Making history… and rum

History Day in the Park is all about history, right? And you know what’s cool about history?

We’re always making it.

Each in our own way. Here’s a fellow who’s making it (and racking up the awards along the way): Troy Roberts with his Siesta Key Rum.

Troy Roberts, as seen at siestasand.us

And guess what? Siesta Key Rum will be at History Day in the Park! There will be all sorts of wonderful, award-winning infused rums… and we hear tell, too, that there’s a rum-bottle dog toy available. Let’s hope there will be some for our four-legged companions, who, as you know, are always welcome on the grounds of Phillippi Estate Park.

There’s even recipes on the website.

Our thanks to siestasand.us for the portrait of Troy. Read their story about the history of the distillery here.

Historic Groups Participating, Participants, Supporters

Bill Schustik, America’s Troubadour

It’s gonna be a great performance, and we can’t thank Bill enough for supporting our fundraising effort by volunteering to perform during History Day in the Park. We’re looking forward to enjoying VGO and Bill as singing, strumming, story tellers. From 2pm on, at the Farmhouse Porch, on Saturday March 25 2023. Free in the open air, but I’m guessing there will be the honored tradition of a hat to throw some money in!

“Bill Schustik travels the highways and byways of the United States entertaining audiences, accompanying himself on guitar and banjo, harmonica, concertina, and dulcimer. With his rich baritone voice and unique storytelling ability, he unabashedly carries his audiences on an enchanted musical journey of America’s history and folklore, spinning facts and trivia as vast and varied as our heritage.” — Friends of the Sarasota County Libraries.

A short snippet of Bill, filmed at the Bidwell-Wood House at the Historical Society of Sarasota County by The Observer newspapers.
Historic Groups Participating, Participants

Everywhere you turn, entertainment! And cookies.

Our schedule of events, and what each participant will be offering, is getting very exciting for History Day in the Park.

1910’s, 1920’s, 1930’s music to hum along to!

We’re hosting Sailor Circus and the high-schoolers’ feats of derring-do, the Sarasota Concert Band playing period songs for your enjoyment, speakers on topics as varied as Sarasota history and a win-win restoration of an amazing downtown landmark, and more folks donating their time and talents to our fundraising event.

And rumor has it that Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation is baking up some cookies for you, complete with the 1910 recipe to take home!


Barbie Dolls in Sarasota History

What, Barbie is a part of Sarasota history? Well, believe it or not… yup. And you’ll learn more at History Day in the Park!

Look at those outfits…. and look at the accessories!

You see, the second and last owner of the Keith Mansion was Mae Hansen Prodie. She bought the home and its land from Nettie Keith, Edson’s widow, in the late 1930s.

Mae was renowned for her success as a travelling toy salesperson, and she developed her won Marie Mae dolls and other branded lines of dolls for retailers like Woolworth’s. Marie Mae, Inc. was well known for making shoes and even rollerskates for dolls as well as some other accessories, so it is possible that the company did supply Mattel with some small items, but not the doll’s wardrobe, as Mae seemed to brag at times.

You have Mae Prodie to thank for every Barbie shoe you’ve ever stepped on.

Edit 3-21-23 Unfortunately, our friend Marl has broken her arm! She will not be able to attend History Day in the Park. For History Day in the Park, we are thrilled to present to you the world-renowned expert on Barbie dolls, Marl Davidson of Marl & Be. She’ll have collections for you to enjoy and, at her discretion, discuss the value of any Barbies you bring with you. There will be accessories, equipment (did you know Barbie had a plane!?!), and Marl is the author of several reference books, so we’re guessing you’ll be able to buy them too.

Marl and Brooke, AKA “Be”. Click to visit their site.

Find them in the sunroom inside the Edson Keith Mansion at Phillippi Estate Park during History Day in the Park on Saturday March 25, 2023. Breaking news on HDIP’s Facebook page, so follow us there.


An Author with a Mission

Richard Lee Cronin, writer and historian and author of multiple books on Florida’s history, will be sharing his vast and well-researched knowledge with us on History Day in the Park on Saturday March 25, 2023. We’re excited to welcome him and know you’ll come away from a visit with him with interesting stories from the past.

Richard Cronin, history raconteur.

I arrived in Florida Christmas Day 1971, a hundred years to the day, I later learned, from the day John Otto Fries’ arrived in central Florida. Decades passed before I learned of the precision surveyor whose work I routinely rely on today, but with this precautionary postscript. Fries was a precise land surveyor, but a horrible speller.

Observations as a youth, I’m convinced, laid a foundation for my obligation as a history researcher, trust information only after you take the necessary time to verify it.

I knew nothing of Florida’s rich history when I arrived, but wanted to discover as much as possible about my new home. 

The last half of the 19th century was a fascinating period in Florida, a time and place often described as an American Paradise, and the period during which my research and writing centers. This was a time of amazing people – men and women – who endured remarkable triumphs and tragedies.

Richard’s speciality as he travels the state, attending history get-togethers, is delivering his renowned “Snippets of Hometown History“, presentations of 15 minutes or less focusing on local lore.

We can’t wait to see what lore/ facets/ tales he chooses to tell us about the Sarasota region!

Richard’s website and his Facebook are full of information. Fun fact: Email him with the books you want to purchase, and he’ll bring them with him especially for you!


Bring your old toys!

Introducing AntiqueToys.com and owner Ed Sandford. As a participant in History Day in the Park on Saturday March 25, he’ll be showing some of his wonderful wares and doing appraisals. Here’s what he says:

Sometimes it is dizzying to categorize toys.  Are they very old, newer, reproduction toys or desirable? We love old toys, so it is simply a pleasure to see what families have.  

And he’s just the guy to ask! Find him inside the Keith Mansion during the one-day event on Saturday March 25. Even if you’re not in the market for antique playthings or don’t have any to be appraised (appraisal fee applies), it’s wonderful to see some nostalgic items.

And Ed adds a note for those cleaning out their storage:

P.S. We love donations of ephemera and catalogs too! We enjoy the toy help and toy research.