LAKE PLACID - "We are ready to go," declared Eileen May, as Lake Placid's signature three-day event, the 23rd Caladium Festival, opens today, making its July debut.
Last year, organizers decided to move the festival from August to July to dodge the peak hurricane season after a close call with Tropical Storm Isaac last year.
The response to the change has been good, organizers said.
The vendor booths are sold out, said May, who is the executive director of the Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce and festival sponsor, and "we are expecting great weather."
Today and Saturday's hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sunday, the festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Visitors to the 23rd festival will see some new events: An airboat and swamp and buggy show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in DeVane Park, and a beer garden the Lake Placid Jaycees are sponsoring at their booth in Stuart Park.
Henscratch Farms will also offer wine tastings all three days, and its tent will be near the entertainment pavilion near Stuart Park.
May said there are still seats open for the caladium fields bus tours. Cost is $10 a person and the tours will leave from the Lake Placid Woman's club, located at 10 N. Main Ave., Lake Placid, several times a day.
There will be plenty of caladium bulbs and plants to purchase, and this year, visitors can watch artist Keith Goodson paint Lake Placid's newest mural on the wall of the Walgreens pharmacy in Lake Placid, weather permitting.
Store manager Joyce Shell said Goodson will be painting the 48-foot-by-18-foot mural "celebrating Lake Placid" all three days, weather permitting.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Walgreens also set up a tent outside and offers free health screenings and offer giveaways, Shell said.
There will be plenty of food and crafts booths and the 17th annual Caladium Festival Car and Bike Show will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at DeVane Park. Several entertainers will perform through the festival.
Friday, the Lake Placid branch office of the Highlands County Tax Collector will be closed. Those who need to use the services can go to the Sebring and Avon Park offices.
"Historically on that Friday my Lake Placid branch office has been somewhat inaccessible due to its location in the middle of the event," said Tax Collector Eric Zwayer. "Also in years past, our parking lot gets used primarily for the event and road closures have made it more difficult for our customers and event patrons alike. Our transaction numbers also reflect this as they are extremely low on that particular day. "
The tax collector's office will assist the festival Friday and reopen Monday.