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The Annual Caladium Festival


A Painting of "Caladium Balloons" at the Caladium Festival.

A Painting of “Caladium Balloons” at the Caladium Festival.

For the past few years, Indian River County Master Gardeners have attended the Caladium Festival in Lake Placid, Florida. The Caladium Festival is a plant and “Small Town Americana” culture lover’s dream. It is held annually in Stuart Park. There are arts and crafts booths, a beer garden, car and bike show, wine tasting, festival food vendors, a 5k race, and a caladium themed flora arrangement and poster competition. Visitors are impressed and transported to yesteryear by the beautiful murals that cover many of the large wall spaces in the surrounding area. The whole festival can be enjoyed in a few short hours including a one-hour educational bus tour.

Master gardeners at one of the caladium home stops on the bus tour. From right, Linda W, Fran R, Julia D, Kathy H

Master gardeners at one of the caladium home stops on the bus tour. From right, Linda W, Fran R, Julia D, Kathy H

Caladiums originated in the Amazon rainforests. They grow well in the mucky soil found in the narrow strip of the Florida ridge. In this high elevation area, it is supposed that the land was never submerged and that the rich soil is from decomposed vegetation. Lake Placid is the caladium capital of the world. During the tour caladium production was explained in detail and it was stressed how important competition is to the survival of the caladium business. A company would have a very hard time meeting the consumer demand for caladium without healthy business rivals co-producing the popular plant.

Just one of the caladium festivals’ unique and engaging vendors in Stuart Park.

This year, the Master Gardener group started out early on Saturday, 28th July 2018 arriving shortly before 9:00 am. The festival was already well underway. Vendors were set up and people were walking about. The group spent time admiring plants and wares being sold by vendors. Purchases were stowed away in the vehicles and then lunch was had at a café along the main street. Lunch ended at 12:30 pm, in time to head over to enjoy the 1:00 pm bus tour. After the bus tour, the group headed home back to Vero Beach.