Rod Lewis/News-Sun Crowds gather to purchase caladium bulbs during the first day of the Caladium Festival on Friday.
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published: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott attends Caladium Festival opening
By ROD LEWIS
LAKE PLACID --The Caladium Capital of the World is living up to its name this weekend as the 37th annual Caladium Festival takes over the streets. This year, it drew a VIP to its opening day.
Gov. Rick Scott came to the festival on Friday, mingling with the crowd and making an appearance at the entertainer's pavilion.
"I love Lake Placid and I love caladiums," Scott said. "I am going to get one and take it back to my wife."
Lake Placid Mayor John Holbrook was ready to take things in stride when it comes to Mother Nature's plans for the weekend. The festival continues until 3 p.m. today
"Either it is going to rain or it is not," Holbrook said just as the festivities began. "Most of the storms have been coming in the afternoon or at night, so it looks like we will have at least a couple of hours of good weather."
The festival began with the Lake Placid High School ROTC presenting the colors and a splendid rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" by the day's Master of Ceremony, Mari Capodiferro. In addition to being the emcee for the entertainment, Capodiferro also serenaded the audience with an eclectic mix of music from the '60s to the opera stage.
She was just one of the day's many entertainers at Stuart Park.
"Everyone was just sitting there chilling and when I started singing everybody just turned and looked at me," said 16-year-old Kaeli Spurlock, who sang Friday morning. "This is my third year at the Caladium Festival, but I also sing at the country fair and all the Relay for Life events. That is what I love doing because it is getting out there and singing for a good cause."
"The weather was holding, the bus tours were filling up, and attendance was good," Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce President Eileen M. May said Friday.
There are over 100 vendors at the festival. There are other booths of interest, as well. Highlands County Citrus Growers Association representative Ray Royce was working at a booth that gave away free orange juice.
"We have had a lot of business and seems like everyone liked the free juice. We will be giving the juice away all weekend," Royce said. "We are here for education purposes as well. Thirteen percent of all juice consumed in the United States comes from Highland County."
"We just found a booth that sells dog collars!" exclaimed Karen Forsyth, who is in charge of the information booth at the Festival. "We can help find things that are here. We have information about the booths, about the entertainment, about special food. Whatever you are looking for, we can help you find it."
She also noted that the Florida Hospital booth is next door in case first-aid is needed.
"There is also a cool water mister that is next to the information booth in order to cool off when needed."
Forsyth also said that caladium tee shirts are for sale. Local artists submit ideas for use for the next year's festival.
"Next year's art is available for viewing at the Caladium Arts And Crafts Co-op," she said. "There is also a children's category that showcases the art of elementary students. Anyone in elementary school can submit caladium themed art, and the winner will be showcased at the next festival."
The Caladium Festival is not just limited to Stuart Park. There are activities in Devane Park and throughout the streets of Lake Placid throughout the weekend. The airboat and swamp buggy show will be held today.
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