By Barb Turner, Publicity Chair
Canton, Texas, specifically the Canton Civic Center, is the site of the 2017 FCRV Retiree Rally, March 21-27. Come early and explore Canton and the surrounding area.
Canton is the home of the huge city-wide flea market known as the First Monday Trade Days. The name might be a little confusing. The flea market is NOT on the first Monday of the month, BUT the Thursday through Sunday prior to the first Monday of the month, sun-up to sundown, rain or shine!
When did it begin? Why? The story is that the tradition began with district court meetings held on the first Monday of each month or with the monthly visit of neighbors during the days of the Confederate States of America; both are interesting stories. ‘The custom began with the swapping of surplus stock by barter and grew to include casual bargaining for or swapping of dogs, antiques, junk, and donkeys on a 30-acre grounds. It is so immensely popular, that Canton goes from a town of 5,100 to a town of over 300,000 during the first Monday weekend, making it the largest flea market in the world.’ The Retiree Rally will take place the week prior. Arrangements can be made with the Canton Civic Center to stay over for the event. You will move to another site for the event.
Also in Canton is Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial, 1200 S Trade Days Blvd. The memorial is described as ‘a grass roots organization honoring our Van Zandt County military.’
On one of your early days, you might want to visit The Salt Palace Museum, 100 West Garland St., Grand Saline, TX, north of Canton. The town of Grand Saline sits atop a massive lode of natural salt, estimated to be 16,000 feet deep! The salt industry in Grand Saline began in the Civil War era with salt works used by the Confederates. The salt dome at Grand Saline is estimated to last for another 20,000 years.
The Salt Palace is a small one-story building in Grand Saline that is constructed of local salt blocks. It has been rebuilt on the same site at least three times, the most recent being 1993. The original was built in 1936 for the Texas Centennial and resembled the Alamo. The museum inside the Salt Palace was created in 1995 exhibiting mining artifacts and memorabilia. Although underground tours are not offered, a museum video shows the mining operations. Morton Salt owns the actual mines. The palace hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5. Free. Donations accepted. ‘Every Salt Palace visitor takes home a souvenir salt crystal, perhaps to discourage them from licking the building walls, which is reported to be not all that uncommon!’
South of Canton is Athens, Texas you’ll find the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, 5550 F.M. 2495.. Its mission, as stated on the website, is to provide an educational, entertaining visitor experience that promotes freshwater sport fishing and the enhancement, conservation and stewardship of aquatic resources in Texas. Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $4.50 for seniors. Dive shows are offered at the following times, followed by a tram tour of the outside hatchery: 11:00 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. Saturday; 2:00 p.m. Sunday.
A ‘Sip of Texas’ can be found at the Tara Vineyard & Winery, 8603 CR 3914, Athens. Tara Vineyard & Winery is the oldest winery in Henderson County. The Tara Inn on the grounds is the historic Murchison home that was built in the 1880s and moved from downtown Athens. It is open for overnight guests. Tasting Room and Wine Shop & Patio are open Wednesday-Sunday 11:45 a.m. to close. Winery Tours are Saturday at 2:30 p.m. or by appointment for private tours!
In downtown Athens, you might like to visit the Henderson County Historical Museum, 217 N. Prairieville Street. Hours: 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The building was built in 1896 as a grocery store. Exhibits on the first floor depict a turn-of-the-century dry goods store. The second floor is a recreation of an early law office, parlor, bedroom, bath, kitchen, and schoolroom.
Over the next months the 2017 FCRV Retiree Rally Committee will be sharing places to visit during your early days stay as well as what to expect at the rally. Stay tuned……