History Festival to be celebrated in Fort Pierce, Vero Beach



An all-day festival featuring historical re-enactors, ghost tours, historical trolley rides and sessions on historical topics will highlight this year’s Treasure Coast History Festival in downtown Fort Pierce on Saturday, Jan. 13.

black box theatre


The free festival will also feature historical presentations in the Sunrise Theatre Black Box. The first session, on the history of the Adams Ranch, begins at 10:30 a.m. and features brothers Lee, Mike and Robbie Adams. They will talk about the ranch beginning with its purchase by their grandfather in 1937 leading up to present day.

Adams brothers


At 12:30 p.m., students from Indian River Charter High School will present excerpts from “American Jazz,’’ a musical based on the discovery of recent letters between Waldo Sexton and author Zora Neale Hurston. A session at 1:30 p.m. features experts who will address the establishment of Fort Pierce as a military base in 1848 during the Second Seminole War.

In addition to the all-day celebration in Fort Pierce, the Treasure Coast History Festival has also expanded to an evening session in Vero Beach on Thursday, Jan. 11. That session, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. at the Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave., and will focus on the legacy of Vero Beach visionary Waldo Sexton, who created Vero Beach landmarks such as McKee Botanical Gardens, the Driftwood Inn, the Ocean Grill, Patio Restaurant and Szechuan Palace Restaurant.


Featured for the evening will be Sexton grandchildren Sean Sexton, Mark Tripson, Jenz Tripson, Bonnie Schwey, Randy Sexton and many others. The evening promises a fast-paced discussion sharing up-close insights of their legendary grandfather. The presentation will also reveal the many and creative entrepreneurial paths the Sexton family has taken in art, agriculture, real estate, and historical preservation.

Both the presentation at The Emerson Center and festival in downtown Fort Pierce are free and open to the public as part of an annual celebration of Treasure Coast history produced by Indian River Magazine Inc. The festival is cosponsored by CenterState Bank, Southern Eagle Distributing, East Coast Lumber & Supply Co., Main Street Fort Pierce, the Sunrise Theatre and the Emerson Center.

“The History Festival is intended to highlight significant events and personalities along the Treasure Coast,’’ said Indian River Magazine Publisher Gregory Enns, who is also chairman of the festival. “We want newcomers to learn more about their community and old-timers to help us reconnect with the past.’’

The festival in downtown Fort Pierce on Saturday also features a fish fry hosted by the Summerlin Family, the first family of fishing on the Treasure Coast. The fish fry, which begins at 11 a.m., is $12 per plate and includes fish, cole slaw, baked beans and hush puppies. An outdoor session on the Summerlin family’s fishing history begins at noon.

Throughout the day beginning at 9 a.m. downtown will come alive with historical re-enactors ranging from early settlers to Seminole War soldiers who will depict life on the Treasure Coast in the 1800s. An early cow camp set up by seventh-generation cattleman Rick Modine and his aunt, Joyce Teague, will also be on display.

Trolley tours that take participants to significantly important historical sites in Fort Pierce are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. For required reservations for the trolley tours call 772.466.3880.

ghost tour


Free historical ghost tours led by paranormal investigator Larry Lawson will also be held throughout the day. Registration for those tours are taken on the day of the festival.

Additional outdoor exhibitions feature a history of treasure hunting the on the Treasure Coast, local railway history, a history of the St. Lucie County Fair, the history of Port St. Lucie, a history of the architecture of William Hatcher, and a display on the Florida Heritage Trail, which highlights significant historical sites in the state.

An Authors Alley will also be set up featuring local authors Allen Balough, Rick Crary, Terry Howard, Erin Lomax, O.C. Peterson, Dana Philips and Jean Ellen Wilson. Books on Treasure Coast history will also be available from the Florida Classics Library and books on A.E. Backus and the Highwaymen will be available from the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery.

During the Jan. 13 celebration, Enns promises to announce a new project to help preserve history along the Treasure Coast. Last year, the magazine purchased a monument to mark the unmarked grave at Riverview Memorial Park of celebrated circus performer Lucia Zora.

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