I once bought an accordion for $50 at the Lake County Musicians Swap Meet.
That was an incredible deal because the instrument's built-in amplification unit — essential for jamming with rock bands — was worth more than that modest asking price. I was so excited that I barely remembered to test if all the keys worked. They did.
The musicians swap meet is a fixture at Renninger's, the 117-acre antiques center and flea market in Mount Dora. In recent years, the musical theme has been melded with a classic-car show and swap meet to become the larger Guitars and Cars, an event that runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month at Renninger's (renningers.com), on U.S. Highway 441 in Mount Dora.
Interesting people also are part of the charm. On my latest visit, I met drummer Michael Welch, who was selling drum accessories, recordings of his music and a book about his experiences in Orlando's garage-band scene of the 1960s. You can buy the book, "Notes of a Young Drummer: 1966-1969," on amazon.com, but it won't be as much fun as Renninger's.
The flea market is one of my favorite Lake County destinations.
That list also includes B.C.'s General Store, a beloved outlet for roadside barbecue on County Road 48 between U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 19 in nearby Yalaha. If you're interested in barbecue, you'd better hurry.
After 32 years serving highly elevated barbecue pork, ribs and chicken, owner Betty Crenshaw is closing the store at the end of May.
At age 71, the retired Lake County schoolteacher is ready to shed the responsibilities of the store. In its final days, Crenshaw will be selling as many of the furnishings and random artifacts — as well as barbecue lunches — from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. "We're too old and it's too hot for more than that," she says.
When I stopped last weekend, the ribs, pork and chicken were still being cooked in a metal drum on the porch, sending a tantalizing aroma through the cramped, two-room former post office.
On my final visit, I snagged a B.C.'s ball cap and snapped a picture of one of my travel columns framed on the wall.
I love hats, but I won't wear this one. It'll go on my shelf, a priceless souvenir of a Lake County gem.