The festival was sponsored by the Key West Campground & BBQ, Mark Twain State Parks and the Florida Winery. Events were held at each location.

As she sold large bags of freshly fried pork rinds, Dionne Jones of Auxvasse was thrilled with the Labor Day weekend crowd at the first-ever Old Florida Traders Festival.

“The traffic has been really good, much better than other events we have been to this summer,” she said, estimating that as of noon on Saturday there were at least 200 or more people who had passed her booth. She and her husband, Kevin, travel around the Missouri in the summer, setting up a stand called Four Pigs that sells the freshly fried pork rinds with a number is seasonings – barbeque, ranch and salt, among others.

By noon, the pair had sold 40 bags of pork rinds on a pleasant day with a light breeze and mild temperatures in the low 70s.

The festival was sponsored by the Key West Campground & BBQ, Mark Twain State Parks and the Florida Winery. Events were held at each location.

At the Key West Campground & BBQ, about a dozen vendors set up shop, selling antiques, crafts and food – lots of food. The campground’s barbeque restaurant was doing a brisk business at lunchtime, patrons were entertained by Paris High school senior Amber Chapman, who plays on the girls’ varsity golf team and serves as drum major of the Paris High Coyote Band.

Meanwhile, about a quarter mile to the south, the Mark Twain Shrine conducted an open house on Saturday afternoon, with tours of the shrine and a story-telling tour for children.

Karen Seward of Monroe City serves as an interpreter for the shrine. She was conducting a Storybook walk on the Barefoot Sam Trail to start the open house. Although turnout was sparse for her first tour, Seward said that the story-telling tour was a good way for children. Nearby, at Lake Tom Sawyer, there were activities for children, including kayaking, geo-caching, archery and sling-shot shooting, as well as live-animal presentations at the Camp Clemens Nature Center.

At the Florida Winery, business was brisk, as many people chose to spend the first day of the Labor Day weekend chilling with a glass of wine on the patio.

“It’s just a beautiful day to relax,” said Warren Hagan of Weldon Springs who was sharing wine with his wife, Sharlene.

The Old Florida Traders Festival event was the brainchild of Ed and Missy Vitt, who co-own the Key West Campground & BBQ. As she took a break from cooking in the kitchen, Missy Vitt said that she was happy with the turnout at the inaugural event, as crowds far exceeded expectations.

“When we were little, there as a festival every year in Florida, and it just kind of died off,’ she said. “we were all just talking about it and we thought it would be cool to bring it back.”

She estimated that more than 600 people attended at the Key West Campground, which does not include the count for the Florida Winery.

The event was so successful that Missy Vitt says it is planned for twice in 2018.

“We were talking with the vendors and we all agreed that having the festival on Memorial Day and Labor Day is the way go,” she said.