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By Robert Connors
managing Editor 

Thousands From Across the Nation Expected to Attend Orange Blossom Review in Lake Wales

Annual Music Festival Features Lineup of Major Acts

 

Last updated 12/6/2023 at 10:25am

Music fans from around the country are expected to gather in Lake Wales Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2 as a local non-profit hosts the "Orange Blossom Revue." The annual "celebration of music, community, and nature" is returning the city for a ninth year and is expected to draw crowds of music-lovers to the shores of Lake Wailes.

The two-day event features a lineup of top musical acts in a wide range of genres ranging from "R&B to country to folk to jazz," according to festival organizer Rusty Ingley. Ingley and Reid Hardman have been running the concert since its inception.

Last year's event drew people from around Florida and from 28 states, including Hawaii and California. Most of them came because of the musical acts on the program, and then fell in love with the festival due to the setting and small town feel, according to Hardman and Ingley, who expect 2,500 to 3,000 to attend the weekend shows this year.

"Walking in under the live oaks and Spanish moss, there's just this wow-factor for visitors," Ingley said.

This year's marquee, hosted by The Wood Brothers, includes performances by southern soul-rock icons JJ Grey & Mofro, virtuosic guitar prodigy Molly Tuttle and her band Golden Highway, distinguished singer-songwriter Brent Cobb, neotraditional country hitmakers Mike and the Moonpies, and rising Americana star Kaitlin Butts, according to promotional materials featuring the event.

Also slated to perform are Harper O'Neill, and Cat Ridgeway & The Tourists. Festival gates will open at 3:00 pm Friday, with Harper O'Neill opening the show at 4:30. With multiple acts involved, fans are always alert for unexpected walk-on performances and jams.

The festival grew from a Rotary Barbecue in 2014, Ingley told LakeWalesNews.net, explaining that the original concept of that event had Rotarians doing all the cooking. "We were still active in Rotary and turned the barbecue into a competition, so we didn't have to do all the cooking," said Hardman.

"We...blew it up into a festival," Ingley added. "It took a good seven years to get to the point where we felt comfortable with our own skill set."

"Our ambitions were larger than what we thought Rotary could take, pulling people who were completely outside Rotary," Hardman added. "That was a complete reboot for us. It sort of morphed."

"Without the people who are involved we couldn't do it. It's a big, big lift," Ingley said, crediting both the many local volunteers and national promoters working with them. The latter are funded largely from a substantial grant from the Polk County Tourism Development Council.

"We were just focused on music the whole time," according to Ingley, who called the evolved event "a boutique festival" that is welcoming to the entire community. That point is driven home by the ticket pricing, which ranges from $95 for two-day adult admission, but on $5 for children 12 and under.

The pair said that last year, when the event happened across from a high school football regional championship game, that small-town atmosphere only added to the uniqueness of the concert.

The festival has drawn the attention of major music-industry publications, including Rolling Stone, Wide Open Country, and Music Fest News.

Each year, a portion of ticket proceeds from Orange Blossom Revue helps to support its nonprofit beneficiary, Blossom Charitable Foundation. The organization was established in 2021 to help promoting arts and culture in Lake Wales. The foundation has provided grants to numerous local organizations including Lake Wales Charter Schools, Lake Wales Pram Fleet, Lake Wales Arts Council, Warner University, and others.

 

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