In recognition of more than two decades of work, Main Street Fort Pierce was named one of the ten semifinalists for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Great American Main Street Program in 2009. Congratulations to the civic leaders, including Doris Tillman, whose vision has guided the effort.
Fort Pierce is part of the Treasure Coast, a quiet hamlet of natural beauty, controlled growth and friendly yet sophisticated people that stretches from Vero Beach to Jupiter. Most of this region is "off the beaten path", so the fact that my colleague Lauren Tjaden and I both filmed videos there for VISIT FLORIDA became news. This video from the local NBC news station gives you an idea of how important this recognition is to area residents.
One of the highlights of my trip was the time I spent at the A. E. Backus Museum. "Bean" or "Beanie" was Florida's most celebrated native-born artist. I was captivated by his fluid range, especially the paintings in the impressionist style that evoke Florida's coastal scenes so beautifully. The museum's collection also includes works by the Highwaymen that he mentored and the Indian River School artists, famous for their Florida landscapes.
Downtown Fort Pierce has a multitude of restaurants offering different cuisines and boutiques with a wide array of fashions for the Florida climate. Fishing in the Indian River, one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in North America, is quite popular. The beachfront area is important to the Atlantic sea turtles. At night, supervised Turtle Walks help landlubbers enjoy the magic of watching a turtle lay her eggs in the silvery moonlight, then quietly make her way back to the ocean.
My visit included a private tour of the Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company factory, where owner Marygrace Sexton shared secrets about her family’s exquisite gourmet products. They select their oranges as carefully as vintners create a wine, and that care is evident in the most delicious orange and grapefruit juices I've ever had. Meeting Marygrace and sipping Orchid Island juices were unexpected pleasures for our crew.
For me, fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice represents the Sunshine State. Natalie's Orchid Island Juice, which uses only Florida fruit, is available throughout the world now. I certainly feel the sunshine in every glass of their juice, just as their website promises.
It’s a fabulous standard bearer for all that is good in Florida, including Main Street Fort Pierce.
P.S. Stay tuned to see my video about Fort Pierce. It'll be available on my page soon.