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Vendors and shoppers pack Airport Farmers & Flea Market for holiday season

No one asks for poinsettias when they can buy many-hued and varietal orchids from David Fowler of Joy Orchids, Brooksville, on Saturdays at Airport Farmers & Flea Market. He helps a customer make selections. (BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times)
No one asks for poinsettias when they can buy many-hued and varietal orchids from David Fowler of Joy Orchids, Brooksville, on Saturdays at Airport Farmers & Flea Market. He helps a customer make selections. (BETH N. GRAY | Special to the Times)
Published Dec. 9, 2017

BROOKSVILLE — With 300 to 400 vendors packing the Airport Farmers & Flea Market on recent weekends, controlled chaos has been the order of the day for Dorri Spoto, who manages the 16-acre site with her husband, Joe Spoto.

"It's quite hustle and bustle here," Dorri said. "It's almost crazy wonderful."

Swelling the tenancy here are vendors bringing in their wares just for the season. That's not just holiday prime time, but snowbird season, dating back to September. With their on-vacation spirit, they're ready to shop, pleased vendors say.

"Yes, we've got Christmas season vendors," Spoto continued, "You've got a neat variety here. Christmas crafts, wreaths, poinsettias, Christmas cactus, new toys, good-condition used toys, vintage toys, vintage knives and swords. Designer purses are new, also home décor, a fine jeweler and a gaming boutique."

At B & B Boutique, owner Beth Russ of Hudson said, "Games particularly sell at Christmastime because it's a tradition, playing games as a family. It's a great way to keep parents and kids connected, instead of electronics."

The shop is big on dominoes, from beginner sets through the eight-sided Mexican train and Mexican chicken "professional" collections – "the oldest game known to man," the retired teacher said, who can tout each game's educational bent.

From early childhood Candyland, Uncle Wiggly and Chutes and Ladders, through more advanced Boggle, Scrabble and cribbage, "They keep your brain going, teach healthy competition," Huss said. "Even learning to lose is as important as good winning."

Among rare game finds are Aggravation, Dutch Blitz, old-fashioned marbles. "I even have bingo for grandmas," Huss added.

Elsewhere at the market, "brain food" sales are picking up at Southern Cross Seafood Shop, owner Tim Nail of Spring Hill reported in early December.

With fresh grouper and red snapper out of Hernando Beach, stone crab claws from Tarpon Springs docks, Argentinian red shrimp and fresh tuna from the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida, fresh oysters and clams, plus a number of frozen seafood specialties, shoppers can readily buy all the` needs for their Olde World Feast of the Seven Fishes. For particular species, Nail, a certified food handler, recommends pre-ordering at (813) 892-9407.

Home décor, to augment holiday celebrations, is a draw for Edna Hackett's one-of-a-kind baubles, which the vendor modestly boasts are crafted "all by myself." Her heroic-sized globes painted and bedecked with Star Wars, Disney and fairy tale themes are big sellers.

Giftable doorstops are another of the Spring Hill woman's specialties. Among custom examples, she transposed three family-memorable stuffed animal toys into functional floor decor, building wooden bases for each, gathered round with old-fashioned burlap, each cuddly ensconced atop.

Overall, market manager Spoto enthused, "We're all decorated and holiday-spirited, Christmas music playing."

At 11:30 a.m. Dec. 16, in Building C, she announced Santa Claus will read Twas the Night Before Christmas. Children are invited to wear pajamas and juice and cookies will be served at the free event.

Vendors at the outdoor market are under roof, facilitating operation without regard to weather. "With 16 acres, we've got plenty of parking, 85 percent of it behind the buildings," Spoto added, indicating visitors shouldn't be deterred when seeing filled slots at the site's gates on Spring Hill Drive.

If visitors haven't stopped by the market recently, now's the time, Soto urged, the venue having absorbed a number of vendors from the former USA Flea Market in Pasco County, which closed in June.

"We're the fullest we've been in three years," said Dorri, since the Sotos took over management in 2014. Vendor maps are available at the market office.

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Airport Farmers & Flea Market

What: Independent vendors of produce, new and used soft goods

Where: 17375 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill

When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Admission, parking: Free

Phone: (352) 796-0268