Waldo Sexton Homestead Days returns Jan. 7-8
VERO BEACH — Treasure Coast residents will have a rare opportunity this weekend to visit the original 1917 homestead of Vero Beach pioneer Waldo Sexton. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7-9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The family of Mark Tripson, grandson of Waldo Sexton, are hosting Waldo Sexton Homestead Days on the property at 5000 12th St., Vero Beach.
Sexton, who arrived in Vero Beach in 1913, would go on in the next five decades to create such landmarks as the Ocean Grill, McKee Jungle Gardens, Waldo's Mountain, Driftwood Inn, Patio Restaurant and Szechuan Palace.
Sexton, also celebrated for the phrase “I’d rather be a liar than a bore," claimed to begin construction on a home shortly after arriving in Vero, but it wasn’t until 1917 that he moved into the bungalow. A year later, he married Elsebeth Martens and took her to live in the house, where she found that one room served as a living area while the other was kept full of livestock feed.
Over the years, Sexton would go onto expand the house to two stories to accommodate his family of four children. When grown daughter Barbara Tripson became pregnant with her first child, he built a second home next door for her and her husband, John Tripson.
Sexton started his Vero Beach Dairy on the property, which became Tripson Dairy after Tripson took it over.
Sexton’s homestead today, purchased by Tripson and his late wife, Hildie, in 1980, is much the same way as when Sexton lived in it and features trademark use of objects such as driftwood, iron and other recognizable features from the ruins of Palm Beach mansions Sexton salvaged. Visitors will also be able to see his secret garden and outdoor kitchen, as well as to meet members of the gregarious Tripson family. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets can be purchased at the door through 3 p.m. each day or obtained online at www.waldossecretgarden.com.
Saturday and Sunday’s visitors will be able to hear the following presentations:
• 11 a.m. Saturday: paranormal investigator Larry Lawson will share results of a ghost study taken at the home and talk about other ghost lore related to Waldo Sexton.
• 1 p.m. Saturday: Indian River Magazine Publisher Gregory Enns interviews Mark Tripson and other descendants who share memories of Waldo Sexton.
• 2 p.m. Saturday: Tribal Courts of the Seminole Tribe, will talk about the history and impact of the Seminoles in Florida.
• Sunday Schedule to be announced: Representatives from the A.E. Backus Museum and other notable people in the community.
Dec. 27, 2022