BRADENTON -- Mixon Fruit Farms celebrated the start of the fall season Saturday at the family owned grove that has been providing locally grown fruit and fresh juice to the community for 75 years.
Mixon's annual Harvest Festival drew many from the community who came out for a good Mixon time.
Among those enjoying the festivities were members of the Mixon family, who continue to own and operate the business.
"I have been here all my life," said Dean Mixon. The grandson of Rosa and Willie Mixon, Dean has watched as his family's business has changed and grown over the years. He recalls fond memories from his childhood there with his wife, Janet, as the two grew up together.
"She use to come here from school with me in kindergarten and we would pick kumquats," he said.
The couple, who have been married 10 years, attended Manatee Elementary together. Dean remembers when the grove was out in the country, he said.
"The city moved around us," he said. "We don't have as much grove as we use to."
In addition to the grove tours,
sampling and shopping, many came to Mixon's for family fun at the festival, which thrilled children with rides, zip lining, bungee jumping, games and more. Kids also enjoyed circus performer Armando Cristiani and his family with their aerial act, trampoline act and hula hoop juggling.
Tabitha Simone and her daughters, 3 and 5, enjoyed the rides and a little shopping.
"We just came from the bounce house and now they want these Hello Kitty necklaces they saw," Simone said.
Children weren't the only ones having a good time.
Carole Urtz and Bob Szavotsky were dancing along to music by The Groove Band.
"We love music and we dance everywhere," Urtz said.
The two friends love Mixon's and the annual Harvest Festival, she said.
"I think it's great," Urtz said. "We always come out."
As Mixon's begins to commemorate its 75 years in the community, it has released a special calendar featuring photos chronicling the groves and the business' growth through the decades.
Gov. Rick Scott will be the special guest at a luncheon to commemorate the 75th anniversary on Jan. 9.
The Harvest Festival will continue the festivities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at Mixon's, 2525 27th St. E. The entertainment lineup will feature Erika Quartuccio singing the national anthem, the Southeast Orchestra, the Southeast Guitar Ensemble, Manatee School of the Arts students, Starfire Dancers and Yesterdayze.
Parking is free and admission is $3 per person or two for $5. Children 14 years or younger are admitted free.
Janet Mixon said the Harvest Festival is a great way to increase their outreach in the community.
"A lot of people do not know we are here," she said. "We also use this opportunity to support local businesses."
For Janet and Terry Collins, it is annual tradition to come out to the Harvest Festival. The couple was enjoying freshly made donuts by local Amish farmers.
"You better not try them," he said. "You can't eat just one."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.