Pioneer Days

Next Pioneer Days is October 28-30, 2016

Pioneer Day first began in 1977 as an annual event held on the last Saturday in October or the first Saturday in November to celebrate the community's history and its earliest pioneer settlers.

As part of the Pioneer Day celebration, traditional crafts are demonstrated and sold. There is also plenty of entertainment, with everything from the Highlander marching band to carriage tours and antique car parades.

Special highlights of the celebration are the remembrance of The Pioneer Years, which is the period from 1853 (when the region was first surveyed) to 1925 (when Lake Wales officially became a city), and the naming of Pioneer of the Year.
Pioneer Hour
Hosted by Mimi Reid Hardman, Executive Director of the Depot Museum and founder of the Historic Lake Wales Society, Pioneer Hour opens with the traditional ringing of the Tillman Bell and features the naming of the Pioneer of the Year. The recipient of this award is determined through a highly secret selection process, and the award has been given annually since 1978 to a person who has been employed in an occupation or engaged in civic pursuits that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the greater Lake Wales community.
Recipients of the Pioneer of the Year Award
  • 1978: Morris Jones
  • 1979: Janyce Ahl
  • 1980: Bessie Snyder
  • 1981: R.L. Johnson
  • 1982: W.D. Crews
  • 1983: Kenneth Rhodes
  • 1984: Sam Keen
  • 1985: Henry F. and Douglas Bullard
  • 1986: Myra Curtis Chandley
  • 1987: Marie Kirch
  • 1988: Mr. and Mrs. H.G. McClendon
  • 1989: Juanita Wetmore
  • 1990: Mada Fraser Babcock
  • 1991: Jeresa Austin
  • 1992: Lee Roy Horton
  • 1993: Miss Margaret Smith
  • 1994: Tom Campbell
  • 1995: Thalia Johnson and Stapleton Gooch
  • 1996: Mildred Kingsbury

  • 1997: Roger Cain
  • 1998: Mary L. Zipprer
  • 1999: Ola Belle Tillman
  • 2000: Robert E. Lasseter, Jr.
  • 2001: Constance Van Hook
  • 2002: Vita Hinshaw
  • 2003: George Whitehurst and Martha White
  • 2004: George Edwin Albritton and Mollie Albritton Cooper
  • 2005: Frank Hunt
  • 2006: Hazel Mary Grace Alexander
  • 2007: Horace Herndon
  • 2008: Joe Martin
  • 2009: William M. Hardman
  • 2010: The Jahna Family
  • 2011: G. Ellis Hunt
  • 2012: Edwin Friedlander
  • 2013: Clinton Horne
  • 2014: Jim Maggard
  • 2015: Linda Kimbrough