Ocoee to host Founder's Day Festival starting Friday

Ocoee’s 23rd annual Founders’ Day Festival will feature none other than the four-time Grammy winner Pat Benatar.

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  • | 10:45 a.m. November 4, 2016
Powerhouse rock duo Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are headlining Friday night’s concert. (Courtesy Photo)
Powerhouse rock duo Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are headlining Friday night’s concert. (Courtesy Photo)
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This weekend, it’s Ocoee’s time to shine as it hosts its 23rd annual Founders’ Day celebration for the community to enjoy.

Founders’ Day kicks off Friday, Nov. 4, in the evening with a concert from artists such as Spayed Koolie and headliners Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. On Saturday, Nov. 5, the day begins bright and early with the city’s Chick-fil-A 5K and Kids Fun Run. 

Each year, attendees get to enjoy myriad family-friendly events as they go back in time and learn about the city’s roots.

“Previously sponsored by the Lions Club, the city took over Founders’ Day in 1993 and it has grown to be one of Central Florida’s premier festivals,” Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson said.

Participants can cruise down to Bluford Avenue to see a Classic Car Show in historic downtown Ocoee, visit the oldest church in Florida, test their luck during the Ocoee Police Department’s poker tournament or head down to Starke Lake and compete for the biggest catch of the day.

Arts and crafts vendors line Bluford Avenue Saturday, and prizes go to the best vendors in four categories: best of show, award of excellence, award of merit and award of distinction. Last year, Gemini Woodcrafting took home best of show for a manatee carved from cedar wood. Crafts from Handy Creations, Honey Caramels and crafter Kathy Wear all won awards.

Throughout the day, tours of Ocoee Christian Church and Withers Maguire House and Museum — both listed on the National Register of Historic Places — will be offered to those interested in seeing integral pieces of the city’s history. And if you reel in the biggest fish at the Fab Five Family Fishing Tournament, you’ll be rewarded by Reel M’ In and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with ribbons and prizes.

New this year is a cornhole tournament, and the poker tournament takes the place of previous years’ poker run prior to Founders’ Day. For the kids, festivities include free face painting, carnival rides, contests, a Bike Fest and arts and crafts.

“Having lived in Ocoee for almost 60 years, I believe the best way to respect its history is to plan for the future,” Johnson said. “I’m proud to see that it has grown into this amazing city that hosts such a spectacular festival each year.”


This country duo — best known for hit singles “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” “Fake I.D.” and “Holy Water” — is composed of Kenny “Big Kenny” Alphin and NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” winner John Rich. The multiplatinum artists have been nominated for Country Music, Academy of Country Music and Country Music Television awards and released five albums.

Before the two met, Rich was a founding member of the band Lonestar and Alphin was signed to Hollywood Records, where he recorded a rock album called “Live a Little.” Rich and Alphin met at a club and soon after began writing songs together, with the first collaboration being “I Pray For You.”


Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].