Celebrating 113 years, “From Sea to Shining Sea” is the theme of GeorgeFest 2015
EUSTIS – This year marks the 113th consecutive annual celebration of GeorgeFest, the second oldest festival celebrating George Washington's Birthday in the nation and the longest running festival of any kind in Florida. Sponsored by the Lake Eustis Chamber of Commerce and the City of Eustis, the festival is an important piece of living, local history. The theme of this year’s festival is “From Sea to Shining Sea” and is scheduled for Feb. 27 – March 1, 2015.
Courtesy of Photography by Dale Ramey
No other city in Florida has as long-standing a tradition of a patriotic celebration in honor of America’s founding father, George Washington, during his birthday.
While the format for the annual celebration, held on the day of George Washington’s birthday in 1732, has changed over the years, several things have remained the same. First, the festival always attracted a crowd. People from neighboring villages and towns would make the trip into town for the festivities. From a simple parade of bicycles and Model T’s, decorated with red, white and blue bunting, and a few other units on unpaved roads, the festival has grown in size and scope.
GeorgeFest has gone from a one-day event to one that has spanned several weeks in the recent past. Attendance has grown from the original handful of locals to thousands of eager and patriotic fun-seekers. The main theme has never changed over the 113 years since its inception.
GeorgeFest 2015 promises to be full of fun and family entertainment, as it has been for the last 112 years. Organizer invite visitors to come and take part with pride in a triumphant celebration of American heroes and heritage.
In the weeks leading to the festival, several activities will be offered, including:
- Feb. 7 - Dueling Pianos
- Feb. 21 - Inaugural GeorgeFest 5k
- Food, and craft vendors
- Live entertainment
- Annual Georgefest Chamber Breakfast
- Queen and King Coronation
- Hot dog eating contest
- Patriotic storefront contest
- Button drawing
It all began rather inconspicuously and centered on the Ocklawaha House, the oldest hotel in the area, which was built in 1876.
Constructed by A.S. Pendry, the hotel quickly became a major attraction to tourists and was expanded between 1902 and 1907. Residents decided to show their appreciation for their visitors by hosting a holiday on Feb. 22, 1902, some dressed as early pioneers, while others as local native tribesman, to produce a pageant of the state’s early history.
George Washington was a man of his time: a farmer and a soldier. Named commander-in-chief of the American Continental army, he led the colonies to victory over England, securing independence for an infant nation. His political leadership led to his election as president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Once the states ratified the Constitution, he was elected the first President of the United States, completing two terms.
Everything about George Washington was entwined with the evolution of a young nation. His name was associated with virtue, honesty, strength, courage, and patriarchal leadership. Schools, bridges, towns, the national capital, and even a state were named in his honor.
The federal holiday, Washington's Birthday, honors the accomplishments of the man who has been referred to, for over two centuries, as "The Father of his Country." Celebrated for his leadership in the founding of the nation, he was the Electoral College's unanimous choice to become the first President; he was seen as a unifying force for the new republic and set an example for future holders of the office.
The holiday also pays tribute to the general who created the first military badge of merit for the common soldier. Revived on Washington's 200th birthday in 1932, the Purple Heart recognizes injuries received in battle. Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Washington's Birthday weekend offers another opportunity to honor the country's veterans.
For more information, visit www.eustischamber.org/GeorgeFest/Index.asp or contact Christie Bobbitt at 352-357-3434 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.