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East County Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 8 years ago

Mixon sweetens season with first fall fest

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Janet and Dean Mixon may be in the fruit shipping business, but they’re also in the business of making memories.

Since purchasing Mixon Fruit Farms three years ago, the couple has been working to foster more of a family atmosphere and give the farm eco-tourism appeal, adding tram tours of the property, monthly concerts, an animal sanctuary and spaces for wedding ceremonies and receptions.

This weekend, they’ll add one more thing to the mix. The fruit farm’s first Mixon’s Harvest Festival will be held through Nov. 15 at the grove, 2712 26th Ave. E., Bradenton. Each day will feature different festivities including arts and crafts, a health and business expo, car show, concerts for children and adults and more.
“We kind of ended up trying to interest everybody,” Janet Mixon said.

Admission is free every day but Nov. 15, and parking costs $5 on Nov. 12 and Nov. 14-15, but otherwise is free. Tickets for food and activities cost $1 each.

Mixon said the idea for the festival came from the bands that play at the farm’s Concerts in the Grove series. With plenty of space for activities, the Mixons decided to more forward with the idea.

“We’ve got little nieces and nephews, and we thought, ‘What would everybody like to do?’” Mixon said. “We just kept adding things until it got this big.”

The event kicked off with a special Nov. 11 Veterans Day promotions at the store, but festivities begin from 6-9 p.m., Nov. 12 with a performance by The Bill Rice Band.

On Nov. 13, the farm will host a health and business fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities will include free screenings and giveaways, door prizes, performances by the Kountry K-9 Dog Show and more.

Festivities on Nov. 14 will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include a craft fair, children’s rides and activities such as rock climbing, and horseback rides, as well as a classic car and motorcycle show and an antique tractor show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Five teen bands will hit the stage from noon to 5 p.m.

“Friday is kind of a community-service day with a lot of free screening,” Mixon said.

And finally, on Nov. 15, gates will open at 11 a.m., for a full day of concerts, which will include performances by groups such as The Wheedles, Dr. Dave, the Shinolas and the Bumbo Boogie Band, among others. Children’s activities and a craft show also will be available.

An interactive exhibit by the RealRail Train Museum will be on site from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 13-15. Cost is $2.

For a complete schedule of events or more information, visit

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Nov. 12

The Billy Rice Band, 6 p.m.

Nov. 13 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Health & Business Fair, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kountry K-9 Dog Show
RealRail Train Museum exhibit

Nov. 14 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Teen band concerts
Craft fair
Kids rides and activities
Classic cars and motorcycles
Antique tractors
RealRail Train Museum exhibit

Nov. 15 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Band festival, noon to 7 p.m.
Craft fair
Kids rides and activities
Classic cars and motorcycles
Antique tractors
RealRail Train Museum exhibit

+ Mixon family honors matriarch
The woman who helped create a local farming legacy and shape the future of citrus shipping in Florida died Oct. 22.

Mary Mixon, matriarch of Mixon Fruit Farms, died at Ellenton Hospice House in Palmetto after a long battle with illnesses, her family said. She was 80 years old.

“She was the backbone of Mixon Fruit Farms for 50 years,” said her daughter-in-law Janet Mixon, who now owns the farm with her husband, Dean.

Mrs. Mixon’s family described her as a kind-hearted woman with a strong work ethic, wonderful imagination and a passion for God, her husband and her family.

“She was an encourager,” Dean Mixon said. “She was always there for us and she loved my dad dearly. She was a good example in that.”

Mrs. Mixon’s love for her husband and his love for her is perhaps their greatest legacy, particularly with their children. The two sat next to each other in their first-grade class, and it was then Bill Mixon first held his future bride’s hand, Janet Mixon said.

“He says he loved her since the first day they saw each other,” Janet Mixon said. “It was a beautiful thing to watch.”

Mary and Bill Mixon celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year, although Mrs. Mixon already was struggling with her health, battling cancer, a broken hip and heart problems.

Funeral services were held Oct. 27 at Manatee United Methodist Church in Bradenton.

Mrs. Mixon is survived by her husband, William P. Mixon, of Bradenton; son and daughter-in-law Dean and Janet Mixon, of Anna Maria Island; and son James Donald Mixon and his wife, Kathie, of Saluda, N.C.

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