Community celebration to honor Oakland’s heritage, wildlife

The annual festival will feature music, art, historic tours, boat rides and something new.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Folks attending this year’s Oakland Heritage and Wildlife Festival can visit the traditional exhibits, but they also can expect some new experiences. The festival is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Speer Park, 331 N. Tubb St., in Oakland.

Emma Dietrich, from Florida Public Archaeology Network, will be at the “Ask an Archaeologist” booth, and guests can take their collections and get them identified. Tildenville Elementary School is participating in the children’s art display, and the school choruses will perform in the afternoon. Other new booths include Florida Skunk Rescue, Candy’s Cats and Kona Ice.

Jennifer Hunt, director of the Oakland Nature Preserve, said “fan favorites” Serenity Hills Llama Ranch, American Mountain Men, Native American re-enactor Hawkwood and Lil’ Moo Moo’s Ice Cream are returning this year.

The town of Oakland is setting up a rock-painting station for children from 10 a.m. to noon and will have a preview of the exhibits that will coming to the West Orange Healthcare District Arts & Heritage Center at Oakland.

A face painter and balloon artist will be at the festival, too.

Support the Oakland Nature Preserve by participating in a chance drawing for a specialized pitch mountain bike. Tickets are $1 per ticket or six for $5. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. and ticketholders do not have to be present to win. Tickets are available at Oakland Town Hall, ONP and

The bike has been donated by Friends of Lake Apopka and Winter Garden Wheel Works.

The community celebration also features a silent auction with many different items and experiences offered, live musical entertainment, food tents, boat excursions on Lake Apopka and hay ride history tours of Oakland.

The area housed several Indian trading posts and villages around the 1850s but officially was established as the town of Oakland in 1887 when a meeting was called to incorporate the town with a list of 31 qualified voters. James Gamble Speer is credited for being the first real settler. Peter A. Demens was the first mayor.

Oakland was on an upswing until an 1895 freeze wiped out all the citrus and a late-1890s fire gutted the town’s downtown area. It has maintained its rural roots for decades.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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