The author of “Fringe Florida” was the 1st Special Speaker brought here by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council. This presentation was held at the LaBelle Heritage Museum.
Lynn Waddell is a freelance journalist, whose work has been in Newsweek, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Daily Beast, Budget Travel, and Christian Science Monitor.
Lynn is from North Alabama and her husband, James, is a Central Florida city boy, who “volunteers” to accompany Lynn on some of these research projects.
Fringe Florida is based on the state’s counter culture (different lifestyles) that she explored.
Lynn spoke about going to a little league game in Largo where a lady had two capuchin monkeys in fancy strollers with miniature parasols.During Daytona’s annual bike week, Lynn met with the Leather and Lace Motorcycle Club, a group of women bikers.
While attending Animal Amnesty Day outside of Busch Gardens in Tampa, Lynn spoke to Florida Wildlife Commission officers who stated that this event was for people that had exotic animals and couldn’t keep them for some reason. The FWC has no way to keep these animals so they give them to people that have licenses to keep them.
She spoke of going to a nudist resort (of which there are more than one) in Pasco County, and even to a nude biker event.
At Gulf Breeze, it was the UFO sightings and dolphin healings people.
Swamp buggies are Florida’s contribution to transportation. One such swamp buggy was built by LaBelle’s own Mike Cox, owner of MC Ventures. Mike built a swamp buggy that he named “Redneck Royalty” which he sold to Tony Barnes. After contacting Tony, arrangements were made for Lynn and James to meet him and his wife at the Redneck Yacht Club in Punta Gorda for a swamp buggy ride on “Redneck Royalty.”
These are just a few of the different cultures that Lynn covers in her book “Fringe Florida.” Lynn stated that since Florida is a tourism state, the weather draws a lot of diverse people. You can do things here year round. She also stated that the biggest thing she took from the book: “You shouldn’t judge people.”