Communication Builds Our Community

Pioneer Days Festival Oct. 23-24 Offers Expanded Celebration

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 hand-crafted goods from these vendors along with more than 60 craft market vendors. Average attendance is 7,500 to 10,000 individuals.

The festival honors pioneers from the past and presents the annual Pioneer of the Year recognition award at 10 a.m. Saturday to a notable resident who has made historical contributions to the community. The nomination form, vendor applications and more details can be found at

The Pioneer Days festival will include community organizations, antique tractors and cars, live music and entertainment, festival food, beer & wine. Families can also enjoy the Pumpkin Patch with pumpkins for sale, fall craft stations, old-fashioned games, a corn crib, hay piles, photo station, and face painting.

New this year is the Pioneer Beer & Wine Garden, presented by Rotary on the Ridge. A selection of beers and wines will be for sale from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Guests can enjoy food, drink and live entertainment while overlooking beautiful Lake Wailes.

Live entertainment will feature music and performances each day including Nat West & Pickin' in the Park, Lake Wales High School Highlander Band, Mountain Brew Trio, Bryan Rivers, local school and dance performances, and more.

Food concessions include the return of local favorites and new offerings including, WTF Concessions, Little Joe's, Rodney's Funtime Concessions, Cuppa Joe, Topsy's, Tony's Italian Ice, and Fresh Lemonade. Food for sale includes Coffee, Smoothies, Funnel Cakes, Hot Dogs, Polish Sausage, Corn Dogs, French Fries, Philly Cheesesteaks, Hamburgers, Fresh Lemonade, Slushies, Hoagies, Chicken Tenders, Po Boys, Fish & Shrimp Platter, Wings.

Heritage education activities offered throughout the weekend celebration include historic architecture tours of downtown Lake Wales, Canoe Carving, Polk County Woodturners, SWEAT – Early American Trades, The Country Boutique – Candle Making, Thomas Geer Artisan - Blacksmith, Civil War Camp – Reenactors & Cooking, Florida Citrus Hall of Fame – Miss Florida Citrus and Citrus Labels, a 1861 Cracker Chuck Wagon & Pioneer Camp, Funerary & Historic Cemetery Display, Pine Needle Baskets, Leather maker, Chair caning, PT Mortimer Medicine & Magic Show, antique car show and parade at noon on Saturday, Flywheelers antique tractor, engine exhibits, and the museum's own 1985 fire truck.

Family friendly activities offered include the Family Pumpkin Patch with wooden cut out and old-fashioned photo stations, pumpkin painting, old fashioned games – corn hole, croquet, checkers, sidewalk chalk and hula hoops, hay pit play area, corn crib, fall crafts, face painting, live animal petting zoo, and relay races

A Kids' Costume Contest is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday. Children ages 3-12 are invited to dress up and enter for a chance to win prizes for the following categories: Cutest, Spookiest, Most Original, and Best Overall Costumes.

Another new feature will be a Dog Parade at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Well-behaved dogs of all shapes and sizes, along with their owners, are welcome to dress up and enter for a chance to win prizes for the following categories: Cutest Costume, Most Original, and Best Overall.

For the health and safety of all our participants, this event will be held entirely outdoors, and mask requirements and physical distancing will be implemented in accordance with regulations and guidance from the state of Florida, City of Lake Wales, and the CDC.

"We are so excited for the return of this community event, and we will do everything we can to make it safe," said Museum Director Jennifer D'Hollander.


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