Oakland Heritage Day Returns

OAKLAND — The town of Oakland in west Orange County has a special birthday coming up: the town’s 135 anniversary is in January. To make sure everyone gets in on the celebration, the town is hosting a special party.

Oakland Heritage Day returns this month to commemorate the town’s history and legacy, noted Elisha Pappacoda,the town’s administrative services and communications director.

“The time-honored festival will be revitalized with fresh, new experiences tailored for both longtime and new residents alike,” she noted.

The celebration is on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Historic downtown Oakland, and is being sponsored by Orlando Health, Healthy West Orange and the Oakland Nature Preserve.

What is Happening at Heritage Day?

“The festival celebrates Oakland’s small-town charm, unique history, nature, wellness and the arts with a family-friendly day of live music, food trucks, fine arts and crafts, quality vendors, interactive kids’ activities, and more,” Pappicoda noted.

Some of the events will be at Speer Park, 331 N. Tubb St., including:

  • The Gerry Williams Band, a funk, soul, and R&B act, which headlines the festival;
  • Additional performances by soloist Kelly Jarrard and Handpicked, a banjo trio
  • Food trucks that will include Burger Fi, Smoking Soul BBQ, Razzo’s Pizzeria, and Hot Dog Therapy; sweet treats and beer and wine garden are by West Orange Creamery
  • A “Historic Florida” section is sponsored by Oakland Nature Preserve featuring animal ambassadors and a silent auction benefiting the Nature Preserve
  • Gatorland’s live show features alligators, snakes, and exotic reptile encounters
  • Orange Blossom Market offers boutique vendors.

At the Healthy West Orange Arts & Heritage Center, 126 W Petris Ave., the activities will include:

  • Westly’s 6th Annual Virtual 5K In-Person Event kicks off from the Center at 9 a.m. and continues to the Healthy West Orange Fresh Start Zone at Speer Park. Register here: HWOEvents.org.
  • The Orlando Youth Chamber Ensemble, presented by HAPCO, performs from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • The Center’s art and history exhibit “Hold Fast to Dreams” celebrates Black heritage.
  • Participate in a History Harvest by bringing historic items relating to Oakland to be donated, loaned or scanned.
  • Soul Haven Ranch offers historic horse-drawn carriage tours beginning on Petris Avenue outside the Center. Register here: www.soulhavenranch.com/historic-carriage-tour.

To learn more about Oakland Heritage Day, visit oaklandfl.gov/999/Community-Events or follow the Town on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oaktownusa.  

Where is Oakland, Florida?

Established in 1887, Oakland is one of the oldest municipalities in Orange County and celebrated its 130th Anniversary in 2017. Their downtown once had an opera house, although a deadly fire decimated much of the downtown that never got rebuilt. Still, their historic City Hall dates back to 1911.

Oakland is also known for its parks and trails, which provide enormous recreational activities for area residents and visitors alike, who enjoy the beauty and natural wonder of parks such as Pollard Park, Speer Park, and VanderLey Park.

The Heritage Center has permanent exhibits, including the historic Oakland Presbyterian Church’s illuminated stained-glass window that dates back to the 1919 brick structure, and a video presentation on the continuing historic preservation of Oakland’s Historic African-American Cemetery.

The Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 4th Fridays of the month during the summer and on select Saturdays.

The mission of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center is preserving Oakland’s past, present and future. The Center supports the mission of Healthy West Orange, a grassroots movement to inspire west Orange County to become the healthiest community in the nation.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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