September 1, 2014

OUT+ABOUT: Webster wants you … if you’re country enough

2.7 min read| Published On: September 1st, 2014|

By Gary Corsair

OUT+ABOUT: Webster wants you … if you’re country enough

2.7 min read| Published On: September 1st, 2014|


Locals know there are only two answers to the question, “What’s in Webster?”

Answer A: The Monday flea market, which features thousands of dealers and draws 100,000 shoppers in the winter months.

Answer B: The third largest livestock auction in the state, where 1,000 to 1,500 head of cattle are sold each Tuesday.

And that’s it.

Or is it?

Perhaps the 820 residents of Webster want to keep us in the dark so we don’t buy up the real estate and ruin their small-town feel.

“We want to be discovered,” says livestock auctioneer Daylon Raybon, “but be respectful.”

Translation: Leave your big-city ways at the city limit sign. Webster folk are happy with the pace of their lives.

Webster-Ofr-Newby-mount“I believe Webster is the best-kept secret in the state,” says Mark Newby, a Key West transplant who’s the city’s lone mounted police officer. “I couldn’t get out of Key West fast enough.”

Wait a minute … the guy moved from Key West to Webster?!

“This is the last affordable land in Florida,” Newby says. “There are good people here. Supportive people. They keep it simple, keep it country.”

Perhaps there’s more to Webster than meets the eye?

Webster---Mayor-WilliamsMayor Kelly A. Williams thinks so.

“We don’t shut down from Wednesday through Sunday,” Webster’s visionary mayor says with a chuckle.

Williams says there’s lot of reasons to visit, or relocate, to Webster. Here are a few:

• The Frog In The Window antique store and the adjoining Diddley-Squat bookstore are filled with literary treasures and collectibles, but the most valuable things at 861 NE First Street are proprietors Ken and Judie Mueller. Shame on anyone who rushes in and out. There’s browsing and talkin’ to be done!

“I’ve been collecting books since I was young boy,” Ken said. “At Christmas, my mother would give me $50 and I’d ride my bike all around town buying books.”

Some of those books are now on Diddley-Squat shelves. But they may not be there for long.

“In this town, people are reading,” Ken claims. “The demise of the printed word is vastly overrated.”

So are rushing about, making money and other things like that.

Webster-bookstore“The store is named Diddley-Squat for a reason,” Ken says. “If the wife asks me, ‘What did you do today?’ I can say, ‘Diddley-Squat.’ And if she asks, ‘How much money did you make today?’ Again, I can say, ‘Diddley-Squat.’”

• The folks at El Curiosities at 125 N. Market Blvd. are definitely making money. People come from all over to purchase planters, statutes, metal animals, tall flowers, pottery, benches and all sorts of kitschy cool stuff.

• Market Side Pawn is another business full of bargains. Owner John Dematteo prides himself in offering gently used motorbikes, guns, four-wheelers and electronics.

• Jackie’s Market pretends to be a minimart, but it’s the biggest little grocery store in Sumter County.

“It’s not a convenience store,” says Williams. “They have everything you need to make a real meal.” Including a real meat department with butcher and bandsaw.

Webster-meat-ladies“They call it ‘our little Winn-Dixie,’” remarks owner Jackie Thomas.

And Jackie’s committed to continuing “the family-oriented” feel her mom cultivated.

“I know how to take care of people,” Jackie says. “We have people come from Orlando, Inverness and Leesburg for our specially cut meats and low prices.”

The beef everyone raves about is Colorado boxed beef. But the homemade sausage is incredible as well.

• Speaking of food, Danny Walker is serving up stacked sandwiches, oysters, fresh seafood and cold beer at Webster’s newest restaurant, the Plantation House, on the north end of the city.

• And down-home cookin’ is served up at Farmer’s Market, formerly the Speckled Butterbean.

“All four restaurants in Webster are good,” Williams says.

So now you know the real Webster. But don’t tell everybody — only people who know how to keep it country.

Leave A Comment

About the Author: Gary Corsair

Gary Corsair began writing professionally while attending high school in Greentown, Indiana. He's spent most of the past 46 years in writing, reporting, editing and producing roles for newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. He's served as publisher and editor of three newspapers, TV news director, and executive producer of two documentaries about The Groveland Four. Gary’s earned more than 65 awards for journalism excellence.

Share This Story!

Never miss an issue,  Sign up for the Style Newletter!