Communication Builds Our Community

(28) stories found containing 'pioneer days'

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  • October 24, 1923 Highlander

    News Research Staff|Updated Oct 31, 2023

    1 years ago the young Highlander newspaper celebrated the area with a 24-page special edition of "Who's Who and What's What" in the Lake Wales area. The edition was packed with facts about the growing community. The Lake Wales area already boasted some 20,000 acres of citrus plantings by 1923, according to the front page of The Highlander's "Who's Who and What's What" special edition. The annual Florida citrus crop was estimated to have reached 20 million boxes of fruit,...

  • Bill Redmon is Pioneer of the Year

    Anderson Hanna, Lake Wales History Museum|Updated Oct 23, 2023

    Bill Redmon has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Pioneer of the Year for the annual Pioneer Days festival, which will take place at Lake Wailes Park on October 29 and 29. Redmon's extraordinary dedication to his community and his outstanding achievements make him a true pioneer in every sense and led to his selection by the board of the Lake Wales History Museum, sponsors of the long-standing and popular festival. Only 50-year residents of the Lake Wales...

  • Nominations Sought for Pioneer of the Year

    Special to the News|Updated Aug 22, 2023

    Who will be the next "Pioneer of the Year?" That's a honor you may have a hand in deciding. The annual honor of Pioneer of the Year has been a highlight of the two-day Pioneer Days festival in Lake Wales since Morris Jones won the honor in 1978. Now it's time for the community to step forward to nominate another honoree. The award is bestowed by the Lake Wales History Museum, which has announced the commencement of nominations for the 2023 award. This accolade celebrates...

  • Lake Wales Arts Council Staff Honor Volunteers

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 2, 2023

    The critical importance of volunteers who help to keep the Lake Wales Arts Council and its many programs running was emphasized by director Tommy Frank at a special reception organized to thank those who step up to support the efforts of the Council. Each volunteer present was awarded a certificate and a custom, artistically hand-crafted ceramic mug. The Monday evening reception at the Arts Center drew a small crowd how shared refreshments and conversation before Fran...

  • Lake Wales Woman's Club Has Big Impact on Community

    Special to the News|Updated Jun 8, 2023

    The outsized impact of a relatively small number of Lake Wales women continues to shape and improve the lives of Lake Wales residents. With only two dozen members, the GFWC Woman's Club of Lake Wales continues to be a dynamic contributing force within the community. Part of the international Greater Federation of Women's Clubs, the local organization has served the community for more than 100 years. Operating from their historic clubhouse and auditorium at 275 East Park...

  • Painting Raffle to Benefit AAUW Scholarship Fund

    Special to the News|Updated Oct 19, 2022

    A chance to win "Mediterranean Elegance", an original acrylic, painted and framed by the late artist Jane Fronappel, is being made available for a limited time by the Lake Wales Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The shady haven that inspired this award-winning painting is El Retiro, formerly known as the Pinewood Estate, located at Bok Tower Gardens. This bucolic spot has been visited by thousands, yet remains a lovely, peaceful retreat, ripe for...

  • Help Sought to Landscape City Streets

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Oct 9, 2022

    A civic organization working to re-create a historic landscaping plan in Lake Wales is seeking community help. Lake Wales Heritage is a non-profit group working to re-plant the 1930 landscape plan created by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. "We need to find some helpies," said Heritage director and volunteer Tish Sheesley, citing the several projects the group is tackling. Alongside the tree-planting effort, the organization is launching an educational program for middle school stude...

  • "State of the City" is Good, Mayor Says in Annual Report

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 5, 2022

    A portrait of a city undergoing numerous changes was delivered to about 100 community and business leaders Friday at the annual "State of the City" report delivered by outgoing Mayor Gene Fultz in a darkened auditorium at the Vanguard School. It was the first opportunity for him to deliver the speech since 2019 due to the impacts of Covid-19. He will be leaving office this year after nine years as the city's first elected mayor. Citing an aggressive pursuit of improvements...

  • Pioneer Days See Attendance Growth

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 2, 2021

    The 2021 Pioneer Days celebration of history is itself history, but Lake Wales History Museum Director Jennifer D'hollander is still celebrating. "Oh my gosh yes!" she responded when asked whether she was pleased with the weekend she organized. "I was delighted!" D'hollander cited the bigger-than-ever crowds that poured into town for the annual event. "We had more marketing that ever, true, but then people are just so ready to get back to interacting at events like this." The...

  • Pioneer Days Opens to Big Crowds

    News Staff|Updated Oct 26, 2021

    Blacksmiths, crafters, and thousands of their admirers turned out for the annual Pioneer Days today in Lake Wales. The event, sponsored by the Lake Wales History Museum, runs through the weekend. Great weather seemed to draw out the crowds for the event, and they found lots to do and admire, with demonstrations of lots of pioneer crafts from broom-making to canoe carving. Antique tractors and cars, plenty of live music, a dozen food trucks, a beer garden and the annual...

  • Gladys Howell Named Pioneer of the Year

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 13, 2021

    The Lake Wales History Museum will honor Gladys Howell as the 2021 Lake Wales Pioneer of the Year as part of the 45th Annual Pioneer Days Festival at Lake Wailes Park. The recognition celebration will be held during the festival on Saturday, October 23 at 10:00 am. The Lake Wales History Museum's Pioneer Days Festival is synonymous with Lake Wales history and culture, and celebrates the heritage of the greater Polk County community. The two-day event will feature 50 craft &...

  • Pioneer Days Happening October 23 and 24

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Oct 13, 2021

    Lake Wales 45th Annual Pioneer Days festival is expected to draw some 10,000 visitors to Lake Wailes Park over two days later this month, and staff at the Lake Wales History Museum is ready for the big days. "We are so excited for the return of this community event, and we promise to do everything we can to make it safe," D'hollander said. The ever-popular event will see many changes this year, but will include the traditional favorite Heritage education activities including...

  • interior of museum with exhibits

    City Considers Transferring Museum Operations to "Friends" Group

    Updated Sep 22, 2021

    After several years of operations as a purely city-run facility, the Lake Wales History Museum may soon be under the control of a not-for-profit group once again. The Wednesday City Commission workshop agenda cites a discussion of the transfer, which would include $150,000 in annual funding to aid in running the museum. The group would in turn pay the City $1 a year to lease the facility. "It's going to be a wonderful partnership," said Museum Director Jennifer D'hollander....

  • 3 Generations Serve Community through Rotary on the Ridge

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Sep 9, 2021

    Nature or nurture? It's probably both when you look at three generations of women sharing a heart for serving the community. When she turned 18 in July, Jillian Gillis became Rotary on the Ridge's youngest member, joining her parents and grandparents as full members of the service club. Jillian's mom, Megan Gillis, is the 2021-22 club president and grandparents Sheri and Marshall Hartley joined when Megan served her first term as president in 2018-2019. Rotary is indeed a...

  • Pioneer Days Festival Oct. 23-24 Offers Expanded Celebration

    Updated Sep 9, 2021

    The Lake Wales History Museum will celebrate the community's history and heritage through the 45th Annual Pioneer Days Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 & 24. The free community festival held along the shores at Lake Wailes Park features a heritage village that includes dozens of historical demonstrations of pioneer camps and early American trades. Activities are planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The public is welcome to experience, learn, share and buy...

  • Collections and Research Center Dedicated Jan. 23 to Honor the Late Mimi Hardman

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jan 27, 2021

    Bright sunshine broke through the dreary morning Saturday, Jan. 23 as friends, family and history buffs gathered to celebrate the opening of the Mimi Hardman Collections and Research Center. Named for the city's most noted historic preservationist, the center is located on South Scenic Highway in the newly restored 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Station. Known for developing the historic Depot museum, bringing millions of dollars in historic preservation grants to the city and...

  • Letter to the Editor on Cancellation of Events

    Denny Wittman, Mardi Gras Committee|Updated Jan 10, 2021

    I have served with several committees that organize the large events in town like Orange Blossom Revue and I am on the Mardi Gras Committee currently. I can understand why the decision to cancel the Christmas parade was made this far out. Large events like this are VERY expensive to put on and take months of planning. The city passed a ban on permits for public events, and until the State and Federal guidelines change, we won't likely see the city change. Protecting the life a...

  • Lake Wales Cancels 2020 Pioneer Days Festival

    Updated Jul 15, 2020

    With regard to the health environment in Polk County, the Lake Wales History Museum has cancelled the Pioneer Days Festival, originally scheduled to take place on October 24 & 25, 2020. The health and safety of our community is first and foremost, and due to the national and local concern regarding coronavirus, hosting a large scale event of this proportion is not possible this year. The Pioneer Days Festival encourages engagement with vendors, historical demonstrators, food...

  • Mimi (Mary Leigh Reid) Hardman, 1934-2019

    Updated Jan 8, 2020

    Lake Wales' longtime historian, visionary, beloved wife, and mother, Mimi (Mary Leigh Reid) Hardman, died at age 85 on Dec. 13 following an extended illness. A driving force for historic preservation and celebrating the pioneers who built Lake Wales, Hardman left behind an extraordinary legacy. In her adopted hometown and beyond, Mimi will be remembered as the founder and director of the Depot Museum, host of the annual Pioneer Days festival, red outfits and patriotic...

  • Lake Wales Legend Mimi Hardman Leaves Amazing Legacy

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Dec 30, 2019

    Editor's Note: Memorial is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13 at 1st United Methodist Church in Lake Wales, with musical prelude starting at 1:30 p.m. The grand lady in red, white and blue, Lake Wales legend Mimi Hardman died Friday, Dec.13. A driving force for historic preservation and celebrating the pioneers who built Lake Wales, Hardman left behind an extraordinary legacy. Her service as chair of the Bicentennial Commission led to the opening of the Depot Museum on July...

  • Big Pioneer Days Event Planned Oct. 26-27

    Updated Oct 22, 2019

    The Lake Wales History Museum is planning a larger than ever 44th Annual Pioneer Days Festival Oct. 26-27 in Lake Wailes Park. Admission and parking are free for the heritage celebration that will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, retired Bok Tower carillonneur Milford Myhre will be recognized as Pioneer of the Year. See story at

  • Retired Bok Carillonneur Milford Myhre Named Pioneer of the Year

    Updated Oct 9, 2019

    The Lake Wales History Museum will honor retired Bok Tower carillonneur Milford Myhre as Pioneer of the Year during the 44th Annual Pioneer Days Festival. The celebration will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Lake Wailes Park. Myhre has been a resident of Lake Wales since 1968. He served as the carillonneur of Bok Tower Gardens for 36 years, until his retirement in 2004. During that time he played daily concerts at the tower, greeted thousands of visitors to the...

  • The GFWC Woman's Club of Lake Wales - Women Pioneers in History

    Mary Walkup, Contributing Writer|Updated Sep 5, 2019

    The early settlers of what is now Lake Wales were hearty, adventuresome people, real Pioneers, descendants of their ancestors who traveled via oxen-driven covered wagons and were true to their code of "Ten Tandra Via Est" meaning "The way remains to be tried". Such people included Nellie and her husband, Nile E. Stewart. In October 1912, after a long and difficult, sometimes dangerous trip through swamp, overcoming their fears of possible snakes and alligators, they travelled...

  • Museum Proposes Creating Mimi Hardman Collections & Research Center

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Aug 1, 2019

    Lake Wales pioneer and historic preservationist Mimi Hardman may soon have a city building named in her honor. The Lake Wales History Museum will be seeking donors to help restore and rehabilitate the historic 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Depot, and repurpose the interior of the building as the new permanent Mimi Hardman Collections & Research Center. Items in the city collection date back to 1852, when the original government survey of Lake Wales was completed. A project of...

  • Woman's Club Traces Origin to 1914 Thimble Party

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 17, 2019

    In 1914 Nellie Stewart gathered 17 Lake Wales women for a "thimble party" and while they chatted and sewed they decided to form a club. Now 105 years later, members of the GFWC Lake Wales Woman's Club gathered July 10 for a tea and luncheon where they encouraged guests to join their organization. Secretary Mary Walkup described the club's history, which included an amazing list of accomplishments. The Woman's Club over the years has spearheaded or been involved in many local...

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