Contributed by Tara Bush
Have you ever wished that you could experience all of your passions in one day? Mine are cars, gardening, good food and occasionally shopping I found that such day. At the end of every July is the Caladium Festival in the little city of Lake Placid, which is south of Clermont on Route 27. We headed out early in my 1967 Acadian (which has a/c), teamed up with a street rodder friend, and made the breakfast stop at Niko’s Egg City in Haines City on Route 27. Not much to look at on the outside but has the WOW factor inside. The interior was decked all out in the 1950’s décor and not the old greasy spoon type either. The food was fantastic and the service was even better. I saw the old car guys from my trip last year having their usual Saturday morning breakfast with their old cars out front. Same crew, same place, same time. A bit later we arrived at the large grassy park in downtown Lake Placid. The car show was around the center gazebo and the festival was just a short walk away among the many quaint shops of the downtown area. There were booths of food, crafts, art, jewelry, plants, plants and more plants. Lake Placid was awarded the title by Reader’s Digest as America’s Most Interesting Town in 2012 and is considered the Caladium Capital of the World. 98% of all caladium bulbs are grown here. The deals are abundant on caladium bulbs, fresh right from the growers.
I was hard pressed to see and do everything. The varieties of cars were numerous and the spectators were substantial, but the heat was unbearable. We ducked into a few shops and browsed the knick-knacks before shopping at the outside booths once again. Arriving back at the car show just in time for the awards to be announced and to my surprise the judges felt that my car was worthy of a third place. My street rod friend took top honors, well deserved.
After another stop at the gas station, we headed for a late lunch at Manny’s Original Chophouse. The name does not do this place justice. It is wall to wall car themed; from Route 66 tables, to car upholstered seats, to tin signs and neon lights. It is impossible to see everything. After waiting for the roads to dry, we all headed home, sort of. I couldn’t pass up the most famous Saturday night cruise in, even though the clouds threatened, we made a last minute decision to stop at Old Town to enjoy more car talk before heading home. Cars, plants and food, all in one day, I’m a happy girl.