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As the artists of Goodland hawked their creations at the art show over the weekend, they might have been stealing glances at the cottages next door.

The Harbor Arts & Music Festival returned to Goodland’s MarGood Harbor Park Saturday and Sunday, with a steady stream of visitors looking over the artwork displayed by the artists in the juried show. This year’s festival, the fifth annual, was a fundraiser to aid in the restoration and preservation of the historic, and dilapidated, fishing cottages immediately adjacent to the park and actually on its grounds, on land owned, like the park, by Collier County.

“The Goodland Art Association (GAA) was formed to raise funds for the restoration of these cottages,” said GAA president Tara O’Neill, standing in front of her booth showing brightly colored local scenes. “We’re seeing some movement – they’re tenting the cottages for termites and other vermin on Thursday.”

In front of the cottages, small rectangular structures dating back to the 1920s and ’50s, Collier County Parks & Rec. employee and Goodland resident Nancy Olson shared more details on the cottages’ past and future.

“Most of these were built on Marco Island in the 1920s, at the Kelly-Gnatt Fish Camp,” she said. “That was before the Tamiami Trail was built. They were used for ‘tin can tourists’ ” – bare-bones accommodations for early visitors on fishing expeditions. “They were moved here, probably in the 1940s. This one was built in the 1950s, and has asbestos siding. They all probably have lead-based paint, so the restoration has to be careful.”

The cottages are built with Dade County pine, which has helped them withstand decades of neglect, storms and lack of fresh paint in the challenging environment. Olson said that, like the cottages, Goodlanders are a hardy, resilient breed.

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“This is the last place of its kind. It’s a true community – if you live here, you know everybody, everybody knows you, and we all take care of each other.”

The musicians of Goodland chipped in and did their part during the festival, playing on the verge in front of Chuckles Chickee Bar. At one point, they had a six-piece pickup band going, with Jim and Merrill Allen singing duets with JRobert laying down lead guitar licks, with electric drums and standup bass.

“We’ll probably restore one of these exactly as a fish camp, and the others will be an art gallery and studio space,” said Olson. “The county will come up with a restoration plan, and we’ll use that to apply for grants.”

O’Neill said GAA signed a lease for the cottages years ago, and is eager for the space to become usable and available.

“Every bit of fundraising we do is for that, because we want it for a home. We started this mission with five cottages, but one of them has already collapsed.” With great, almost summerlike weather, the festival had been a hit, she said. “I go around and talk the vendors, and people did really well.”

While the Harbor Arts festival on Sunday drew a respectable crowd, just around the corner at Stans’s, people were packed in, with parked cars extending most of the way down the Goodland access road, mercifully above water, and more visitors paying $10 to park, while empty spaces in the parking lot went begging at MarGood Harbor. Goodland history was there, for sale or just for viewing.

For more information about the GAA: www.goodlandartsalliance.org, or contact Tara O’Neill, 239-642-0528, or at taraogallery@gmail.com.



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