By Dylan Bailey
The Fernandina Farmer’s Market is a special place. If you’ve driven down Centre Street on a Saturday, you’ve most likely seen the vast crowds. You can’t get through them sometimes. If you weave through the sea of people, you’ll want to wander down North Seventh Street. Here’s where you’ll find a small village of vendor tents. Each hosts its own unique personality and offers something memorable. The market’s heart is here.
The market runs every Saturday, excluding Shrimp Festival weekend. With a plethora of food, drinks and fresh vegetables being sold, there’s no shortage of goodies. While taking in the sights and smells, you’ll hear live music playing. The local musicians are a wonderful cherry on top of the proverbial sundae.
Every second and fourth Saturday includes an arts market. This is where you’ll find original art, crafts and jewelry. I have a friend who made and sold custom knives from his own forge here. That’s what I love about it: you never know what you’ll find.
Local chiropractors, Joe and Elizabeth Lee spearheaded the farmers and crafts market on the island. They did a wonderful job getting it off the ground. However, they’ve given the day-to-day to another couple.
Judie and Lawrence Mackie are Florida natives who’ve lived on Amelia Island for 33 years. They met in Atlanta, Georgia. When they got married, they took the leap and moved to the island. Here, she managed a RadioShack in Jacksonville and Lawrence started a landscaping business. At one point, they ended up owning a golf shop here. After Lawrence had an unfortunate run-in with health issues, Judie returned to the corporate world.
Despite life’s roller coaster, their love for the island remained strong. From Lawrence’s health issues to Judie fighting and beating cancer, they have continued to be the backbone of the market on Seventh Street.
Her work at the market is the tip of the iceberg; Judie wears many hats. She’s Amelia River Cruises & Charters’s marketing director, a Sounds on Center volunteer and the Pirate’s Club secretary. She also designs websites, is an avid writer, and is launching a new dog treat business with Lawrence. Saying she’s a busy woman is quite an understatement!
When you visit the market, you’ll find Judie and Lawrence wearing a warm smiles, even during the dreary days. They’ve made the environment comfortable and laid back. You can hear vendors talking and laughing with each other. It’s like you’re reuniting with old friends.
I spoke with her this past week. She told me this September will mark the 11th year of them running the Fernandina Market. Judie and Lawrence love the charismatic community of Amelia Island and have no plans to leave this special place. Which is wonderful news. Here’s hoping for many more years of them growing and cultivating the Fernandina Farmer’s Market.
Fernandina Beach Market Place
Address: N. Seventh St., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Hours: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.