By KIM MOODY
LAKE PLACID – For 30 years the Caladium Festival has been as dependable as a summer afternoon shower in Florida. It all started when local caladium growers Carolyn Phypers and Dot Bates decided to raise awareness of their colorful plants and bulbs and celebrated a mini-festival in the parking lot of Happiness Farms on County Road 621.
Since then, the Caladium Festival has rarely had to be canceled or moved and if so, it is usually due to a tropical storm brewing. Then, in 2020, COVID-19 ushered in a pandemic and the Caladium Festival and the annual Car & Bike Show, as well as the Dr. Tom McDonald fundraiser run, were all canceled for the weekend of July 24-26.
Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Bush said the board of directors has gone ahead and rescheduled the Caladium Festival for next year for July 23-25, 2021.
“We will continue to monitor and meet leading up to next year’s festival,” Bush said. “We have had a lot of calls for that weekend. Everyone has been supportive even though they are heartbroken. We have to do this for the health of all the volunteers and everyone in the community.”
Even though the festival is primarily outdoors, it would be hard to have social distancing with the tens of thousands of people who normally attend. Vendors that already paid have been refunded.
All former festival-goers know that artwork plays a major part in the festival. There are adult and child competitions for promotional posters and T-shirts. Bush was pleased to say the posters have not been canceled.
“We are using the winner’s art for the 2021 festival and then will proceed as usual,” she said.
Despite the cancellation of the festival, Lake Placid still identifies with the colorful plants.
“We are still the Caladium Capital of the World because of the production from our local growers that ship their products worldwide,” Bush said. “We use social media to promote. Look for us on Instagram and at caladiumfestival.org for more information.”
The board of directors will be using the canceled season to brainstorm ideas for new additions to next year’s festival. The chamber office will be closed this weekend but Bush said there are directories in a box outside the office and a list of businesses that have mural books for sale. The office hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Ring the doorbell for service and please wear a mask. The Mural Gallery is closed for now.
The Caladium Arts & Crafts Cooperative will be open the weekend of July 24-26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will have art demonstrations and, of course, plenty of opportunities to shop for unique gifts. They will not be serving snacks this year. A mask is necessary to enter the store and staff asks that patrons practice social distancing.
Caladium plants and bulbs are available locally by growers. For more information call:
- Bates Sons & Daughters, 863-465-3274
- Happiness Farms, 863-465-2313
- Classic Caladiums, 863-453-0014
- Florida Boys Caladiums, 863-699-9198