Lake Placid is an interesting small town proud of its chief product, brilliantly colored caladiums
Florida has plenty of small-town festivals built around local products – strawberries, every type of seafood, even swamp cabbage.
But Lake Placid has a product you might not know about – caladiums – and the charming Central Florida town celebrates the colorful landscaping plant the annual Lake Placid Caladium Festival.
The 2023 festival will be the 32nd annual festival and it will be July 28 to 29, 2023. It’s free.
The Lake Placid Caladium Festival will offer arts and crafts, a beer garden, food booths, entertainment and an antique and classic car and bike show. There is a schedule of entertainment that includes cloggers, country bands, classic rock, blue grass and local favorites.
But the caladiums are the star of the festival. You can buy them and the town will be full of them — local grower Happiness Farms donated 100,000 caladium bulbs to decorate the city.
There’s a new attraction this year: A 1920s steam locomotive, The Sugar Express, will offer one-hour rides on a vintage train during both days of the festival. (Even with an additional run added, the Caladium Flyer, as it has been dubbed, is sold out.)
If you’re a gardener in South Florida, you know caladiums as those summer plants with vividly colored leaves in shades of red, white and pink. The big leaves come in various shapes and add color to gardens when it’s too hot to grow much much else. There are more than 40 varieties of caladiums, which are in the jack-in-the-pulpit family.
Going to Lake Placid? Read: Lake Placid charms with clowns & caladiums, good eatin’ & great yarns from Florida Rambler to learn more.
Lake Placid calls itself the Caladium Capital of the World because it grows 90 percent of the world’s supply of caladiums. There are 14 farming families with 1,200 acres of the plants and they’ve been growing caladiums in Lake Placid since the 1940s.
Folks in Lake Placid compare the vast fields of bright colors in summer to Holland’s tulip fields in spring.
Lake Placid has fewer than 2,000 residents. It’s located on US 27 an hour east of Sarasota and two hours south of Orlando in a scenic region with hills, lakes and rural vistas.
Plan your visit to Lake Placid Caladium Festival
Admission and parking is free.
Festival hours are 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
For more information go to the website www.caladiumfestival.org
If you visit Lake Placid for the Caladium Festival, be sure to tour the community’s 40 murals, another point of great local pride.
Other things to do in the Lake Placid area:
- Visiting charming Lake Placid.
- Scenic drive along the Cracker Trail
- Sugar Sand Distillery is a 10-acre sugar-cane farm in Lake Placid that opened a distillery last year making their own rum, vodka, whiskey and moonshine. Tours with tastings are $7.50 per person and available on Saturdays.
- Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery makes wine from muscadine and scuppernong grapes grown here. This funky country winery with free range chickens offers tastings and wine for sale at its country store.
- Highland Hammocks State Park is a beauty. The park and rural roads around it are popular with bicyclists.
- Paynes Creek Historic State Park
- Accommodations near Lake Placid
There’s a moderately priced historic hotel in nearby Avon Park, the Jacaranda Hotel, which has a fascinating history and comfortable lodging.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.