Founded in 1911, Fellsmere’s muck land was turned into a sugarcane town by investors from New York. It’s still an agricultural community, with farms raising everything from arugula to shrimp and organic turkey,
With its energetic heritage and growing Hispanic flavor, has survived devastating floods, economic downturns, hurricanes and investor failures since its early beginnings 100 years ago.
Fellsmere was the brainchild of E. Nelson Fell, a New Zealand engineer who first came to Florida in the 1880s to develop a sugar cane plantation in Narcoossee in Osceola County. Like many early colonists attracted to Florida’s milder climate and promise of great wealth, Fell and his family experienced moderate success until the freezes in 1894 and 1895, when he abandoned his plantation and headed for a stint in Sibe.
It is the headwaters of the St. John’s River, and six airboat tours operate here year-round, offering trips on Blue Cypress Lake and other waterways.
The Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, held each January. The the festival serves 5,000 pounds of frog legs in four days. The event has won the city two Guinness World Records: most frog legs sold within the space of a working day and largest frog leg festival in the world.
Fellsmere was the first city in Florida to adopt women’s suffrage. A local chapter of the National Organization for Women still meets at the restaurant every August to commemorate the historic moment.
Photo: Marlen Hurter
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