Culture & Events

graphicA LIFETIME OF EXPERIENCES

The Lake Wales Arts Council offers rotating exhibitions, concerts, workshops, a film series and Family Days. It also sponsors the Lake Wales Art Show, a juried fine arts festival, on the shores of Lake Wales each March. The Lake Wales Arts Center building is the former Holy Spirit Catholic Church, built in 1927 and one of the best examples of Spanish mission style architecture in the state. In November 2001, a $1.6M wing was opened and features a piano lab, educational classrooms, a kiln for ceramics classes, and a state-of-the-art museum gallery that can accommodate premier collections.

A copy of the Arts Council schedule of activities and events is available for the asking. In addition to the Arts Center, there are galleries located downtown that carry works by local as well as worldwide artists. Here you will find painting, glassware, handmade jewelry, antique jewelry, pottery and sculpture.

The city operates the Depot Museum complex, which consists of four buildings along Scenic Highway. The largest, which houses the main office an exhibit hall, is the large pink depot which was built in 1928 and donated to the city by the Seaboard Coastline Railroad. A tin-roofed freight depot was built in 1916 and now houses the Lake Wales Model Railroad Club HO-scale model railroad layout of the East Coast, from the Carolinas to Central Florida. A white cottage that once served as the Woman's Club was built in 1920. This is the children's museum and is the meeting palce for the Girl Scouts and the University of South Florida classes.

The fourth building is the Stuart-Dunn-Oliver Historic House Museum, which is a white bungalow built in 1920. It is furnished with period furniture. Three railroad cars are located on the south side of the pink Depot. They are a renovated 1926 Seaboard Airline red caboose, a 1944 diesel engine and a 1916 Pullman car. The museum has vaious exhibits throughout the year, as well as examples of the award-winning art form the Lake Wales Art Show. A gift shop offers unique gifts at reasonable prices. The Depot Museum and Cultural Center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed Sunday and on national holidays.

graphicThe Lake Wales Library is also operated by the city, but it was originally a project of the Women's Club as a bookshelf in their clubhouse. Later is was moved to the Dixie Walesbilt Hotel and then to City Hall. The Lake Wales Library Association was formed in 1957. A red brick building was built on the shores of beautiful Crystal lake in 1960 and it was remodeled in 1991, which quadrupled its size. A large photgraphic history of Lake Wales covers one long hallway wall, and a historical mural is in the lobby.

The library serves the community by offering both traditional and high-tech services. Along with a quality book colleciton of 57,000 volumes, the library offers homework assistance, reference services, shut-in book delivery, Internet access and a variety of programs for adults and children. The Lake Wales Library is a member of the Polk County Library Cooperative and services are available to all residents of Polk County.

The Lake Wales Little Theatre has provided, for the past 25 years, the only source of live theatrical performances available in the community of Lake Wales. The Lake Wales Little Theatre, Inc., provides high-quality theatrical entertainment and a creative outlet for the many interested and talented people who live in the Lake Wales area. Participation in theater activities on stage, backstage and in the audiences is open to all interested individuals.

Bok Tower Gardens brings music to Lake Wales, from its historic bell tower carillon to the Imperial Symphony Orchestra Pops Concert in May. The special events throughout the year include moonlight recitals, the International Carillon Festival, daily carillon recitals, Easter Sunrise service, many Christmas programs, lectures and workshops. The magnificent gardens and visitor center bring one to a place of peace and beauty.

From the "Window on the Pond" nature observatory to the panoramic view from the peninsula's highest point on Iron Maountain, visitors enjoy nature at her best. A short drive away is mysterious and baffling Spook Hill. Here vehicles seem to roll uphill by themselves, defying all logic. Legend has it that a large bull alligator moved into the lake near a Seminole Indian village at that spot and began to raid the village. The chief, Cufcowellax, set out to find and destroy the reptile and save his people. After a lengthy and great battle, the chief emerged from the lake the victor. The unusual phenomenon is attributed to this legend. No one has been able to explain the mystery of Spook Hill. To get there from downtown Lake Wales take Central Ave east to Scenic Highway. Turn north to the traffic light at North Avenue and turn east. Follow the signs to Spook Hill. There is no admission charge.

graphicSome of the local bed and breakfast inns offer murder mystery weekends, fashion shows, antique road shows and other tours and events. Contact the Chamber for a list of these events. There is a wealth of things to do here in Lake Wales. Various golf tournaments are scheduled, and one can either participate in the sky-diving at the airport or watch the daring jumpers from a safe spot on the ground. Join in on some ofthe free classes offered by the city, including line dancing , guitar lessons and computer classes. Other events throughout the year include bass tournaments, parades, bike rides, street parties, celebrations and live music on area restaurants and lounges.

One of the most colorful and unusual celebrations is the annual Mardi Gras parade and Music Festival in the city's downtown French Quarter. Now in its 17th year, this has become a major social and tourist event, attracting over 60,000 people to a family-friendly celebration. Special events take place beginning with the King Cake Party on January 6. The krewes host balls and parties leading up to parade day and culminating with the krewe of Rx, Prince of Wales Grand coronation Ball on Fat Tuesday. Parade day activites begin with the Chalet Suzanne Mardi Gras Breakfast, a Festival of Vendors all day downtown, the inton E. Davis Music Festival from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. downtown, post-parade parties an music into the evening hours. For a schedule of events log on to the official web site at www.lakewalesmardigras.com.

Other events include the night time Christmas Parade which lights up the kids faces, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, the Martin Luther King Parade and Celebration, the Polk Senior Games bicyclists, the Big Nasty Bass Tournament, the Fourth of July Family Fest and Splash Bash, the model train show and swap meet, the annual elementary schools softball tournament, Pioneer Days which celebrates the history of Lake Wales, and the Classic Car Cruise the first Satruday of the month in the downtown area.

For a complete list of events, information on attractions and what is happening in Lake Wales, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 863-676-3445 or log on to the web site and check out the events calendar at www.lakewaleschamber.com or email us at info@lakewaleschamber.com

 

LAKE WALES CULTURAL RESOURCES
Lake Wales Arts Center
1099 State Road 60 East, Lake Wales
676-8426
Lake Wales Depot Museum
325 S. Scenic Highway, Lake Wales
678-4209
Lake Wales Little Theatre
411 North Third Street, Lake Wales
676-1266
Other Local Cultural Resources
Lakeland Civic Center
700 West Lemon, Lakeland
834-8111
Polk Community College, Art Gallery
Polk Community College, Winter Haven
297-1050
Polk Museum of Art
800 East Palmetto, Lakeland
688-7743
Ridge Art Association
210 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven
291-5661
Sun 'n Fun Aviation Museum
4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland
644-2431
*All telephone numbers are area code 863
Driving Distances to Attractions and Florida Cities
Bartow 16
Busch Gardens 60
Clearwater 77
Cypress Gardens 10
Daytona Beach 119
Disney World 33
Fort Lauderdale 183
Fort Myers 102
Jacksonville 190
Kennedy Space Center 104
Miami 197
Orlando Airport 58
Sarasota 94
Sea World 50
Sebring 33
St. Augustine 158
St. Petersburg 57
Tampa 57
West Palm Beach 153

 

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