Waldo Sexton Homestead Days returns to Vero Jan. 4-5

paranormal investigator Larry Lawson
Audience members listen to paranormal investigator Larry Lawson during last year's Waldo Sexton Homestead History Weekend.

VERO BEACH — Treasure Coast residents will have a rare opportunity Jan. 4 and 5 to visit the original 1917 homestead of Vero Beach pioneer Waldo Sexton.

The family of Mark Tripson, grandson of Waldo Sexton, are hosting Waldo Sexton Homestead History Weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 5,on the property at 5000 12th St., Vero Beach, as part of the Treasure Coast History Festival produced by Indian River Magazine.

Members of the Tripson family
Members of the Tripson family give an interactive cowboy display during last year's Waldo Sxton Homestead History weekend.

Waldo Sexton History Weekend will kick off Friday night, Jan. 3, with a dinner at the homestead from 5:30 to 9 p.m.featuring speakers former Indian River County Commissioner Fran Adams and Maj. Eric Flowers of the Sheriff’s Department. Tickets to the dinner are $100 and can be purchased at www.waldossecretgarden.com A portion of the proceeds benefit the Sam R. Tripson Memorial Foundation and the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.

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 raised his family of four at the homestead, which later also housed the famous Tripson Dairy run by his son-in-law, John Tripson.

Mark Tripson
Mark Tripson, right, grandson of Waldo Sexton, regales visitors with stories of Waldo's secret garden and outdoor kitchen.

Sexton’s homestead today, purchased by Mark Tripson and his 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’s visitors will be able to see the following presentations:

9:30 a.m. Calvin Reams of the Florida Farm Bureau.

11:15 a.m. Paranormal investigator Larry Lawson.

1 p.m. Willie Johns, chief justice of the Tribal Courts of the Seminole Tribe, talks about the history of Florida Seminoles.

3 p.m. An interactive presentation on the early cowboys of Florida.

Willie Johns, chief justice of the Seminole Tribe of Florida
Willie Johns, chief justice of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, talks to audience members during last year's Waldo Sexton Homestead History Days Weekend.

These are the presentations scheduled for Sunday:

11 a.m. Augustus Mayhew, author, columnist and Palm Beach historian: "True or False: South Florida's Myths and Realities.''

12:30 p.m. Ruth Stanbridge, Indian River County historian: "Sense of Place.''

2 p.m. Dr. Harry Hurst, "The Bridges of Indian River County: The War's impact on our County's Bridges.''

3 p.m. The interactive presentation on the early cowboys of Florida.

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