Festival returns to the days of 1923
Welcome to 2023.
Warm wishes to you for a terrific year ahead.
If you know our magazine, then you know that Treasure Coast history is our franchise.
One of our sections, called Living History, is intended to bring history alive by connecting past events to how they have shaped the present.
We also try to bring history alive through the annual Treasure Coast History Festival, which we began six years ago.
This year’s festival takes place Saturday, Jan. 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Second Street in front of the Sunrise Theatre, 117 S. Second St., in downtown Fort Pierce. Besides historical exhibitions along Second Street, the festival also features in the theater three significant presentations, all tied to events that began 100 years ago in 1923.
Access to all festival events is free, compliments of our company, Indian River Media Group, and our presenting sponsor, St. Lucie Battery and Tire, with assistance from Main Street Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County Historical Society and the Sunrise Theatre. As the host of the presentations, I look forward to seeing you at the festival.
The first presentation begins at 9 a.m. and celebrates the centennial of the school that became Lincoln Park Academy. In 1923, few black students were able to attend high school — there were no black high schools south of Palatka — so local parents got together to begin a high school in Fort Pierce that would provide an education for black teenagers. The presentation features eight panelists deeply connected to the school, including former school board member Samuel Gaines, who has written a history on the school.
The second presentation at 10:30 a.m. celebrates the Sunrise Theatre, which opened as a vaudeville theater in 1923, the fulfillment of the vision of impresario R.N. “Pop” Koblegard. Two of Koblegard’s granddaughters, Wendy Bishop and Mary Ann Bryan, will help us recall the theater’s early days and its transition to a movie theater. Other panelists will share how the theater was restored and reopened to its current splendor in 2006.
The final presentation is at 12:30 p.m. and features a Cow Creek reunion, bringing people together who are featured in our five-part series, concluding in this issue, titled the Cow Creek Chronicles. The series follows the lives of C.F. Raulerson, who founded what would become the Cow Creek Ranch in 1923, and his descendants.
Scheduled guests on the panel include Debra Sloan, great-granddaughter of C.F. Raulerson, and children of the Cow Creek cowboys, many of whom continue to follow the cattle-ranching tradition of their fathers. The presentation will give an insiders’ view on the world of Florida cattle ranching while also sharing the folk ways many cowboy families practice today.
I hope you’ll join us Jan. 14 and I look forward to seeing you at the festival.
Reach Gregory Enns or 772.940.9005.