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Ramona Forever

Flea markets are stoner playgrounds

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A busy week left me exhausted and lacking for inspiration this past weekend, so I dragged myself out of bed early Sunday afternoon, chugged a couple mugs of coffee (sadly not of the Willie Nelson variety) and did what any self-respecting local does when they’re bored on the weekend: I went to the flea market. There are several to choose from here in Northeast Florida, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. They are all kinda the same, and all kinda different. (You could also say that of the patrons, but don’t, because that would be rude. Lord knows they get rowdy enough out there already.)

Opened in August 1971 near the crossroads of I-10 and I-295, the Ramona Flea Market runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a sprawling space, with over 700 vendors operating across 46 acres, and it’s filled with pretty much every item you can imagine—and plenty that you could never imagine, no matter how hard you tried. Indeed, the whole place is a tribute to human imagination and ingenuity. Lots of folks go to satisfy specific needs, but that obviates the real fun of just dawdling, lollygagging, wandering aimlessly.

On the day, hundreds of patrons braved the intermittent drizzle to confab with karaoke, loose toys and racks upon racks of tight clothes. My friends smuggled a few beers, which certainly helps. It also helps to be stoned, which most of you probably figured out years ago. Vape Nation was in full effect, defiant in the face of middling fuzz; cannabis culture made its presence felt around nearly every corner. Several booths offered pot-leaf socks, weighty spools of hempen twine and more glass pieces than you can shake a stick at. (But don’t shake a stick at them—they’re glass!) One booth featured tribute t-shirts to fallen narcoleros alongside Mexican icons like Pancho Villa and Rey Mysterio. (Sadly, there were no El Chapo shirts.) Of course, you could build a whole soundtrack from the literal tons of CDs on-site.

The highlight of my day came upon turning a corner on my way out. That’s when I ran into the crew from Little Man’s Big Friend, the CBD distribuotr whose business has boomed since being featured in this space in October. They’re at Ramona every weekend, unless they’re on the festival circuit. We partook of some CBD-infused local honey while laboriously parsing the lotion stocks. I settled on a bottle with tea tree oil and Shea butter, lovingly laced with 1,000 mcg of CBD. (It’s for my mother, but I’m gonna test it out a few times. For safety’s sake, of course.)

We met a couple of kids from Colorado, too. Roux and Britney have started a new business called Cloud Nine, which will hopefully be expanding soon to include a full-fledged CBD bar like the one in Gainesville. They offered a sample of Blueberry Kush from their vape pen. An hour later, and I’m at Burrito Gallery, eating shrimp tacos like Moloch eats souls, having completely forgotten I’d even been to the flea market. Which just goes to show how strong it really was, because the Ramona Flea Market is an experience that you could never forget under normal conditions.

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