A tradition some 40 years in the making, the Orange Blossom Revue brings barbeque, craft beer, and an impressive line-up of music to the shores of Lake Wailes on December 6 and 7. Get lost in that sunshine state-of-mind as you jam out to musical acts from here to Nashville and indulge in authentic southern barbeque at this FREE event. “We’re paying homage to our Florida roots and towards living in the highlands,” said co-chair Rusty Ingley – and you’re invited!
We spoke with Ingley and co-chair Reid Hardman about what’s in store for the biggest party in Lake Wales. “This is the continuation of an about 40-year tradition,” said Hardman. What started as simply a Rotary Club of Lake Wales barbeque fundraiser has evolved into something pretty cool over the years.
Ingley has fond memories of going to the Rotary Club barbeque as a kid with families gathered by the lake enjoying good barbeque and good company. “We both have a very nostalgic take on Lake Wales and what it used to be. We saw some things growing up that no longer exist, so they’re part of our fabric and part of what we remember,” said Ingley.
When he and Hardman took over as co-chairs about ten years ago, it was held at a church and members of the Rotary Club of Lake Wales did all the barbequing for people to pick up and take with them. Every year, the two thought up ways they could up the ante of the event. They added music and a raffle and one year had the idea to host a barbeque competition and put a bigger focus on live entertainment by bringing in a stage. In 2014, the Orange Blossom Revue was born as an expansion of that long-standing Rotary tradition. They turned it into a Friday-night, all day Saturday festival.
A mainstay of the event is, of course, the music. “The bands that we have this year are a cut above and I’m really excited to share that music,” said Ingley. The 2019, nine-band line up has some familiar favorites like Hubo Bentley and Jill’s Cashbox and a mix of artists from St. Augustine to Charleston, NC. The Friday-night headliner is a young group out of Nashville called The New Respects. The band, Hardman described as having somewhat of a contemporary, pop, Sly and the Family Stone-type sound that “defies classification.”
Also on Friday evening, OBR will host a 5-K “Jingle Jog” in which participants can dress in their favorite festive attire complete with lights and glow sticks or whatever you’d like to light up the night. Pricing, sign-up, and more information can be found on their website.
Competing teams will throw down on the grill in BBQ, Backyard, Steak, and Kidsque competitions. As an attendee to the event, you will see a massive setup of up to 60 different barbeque teams with everything from a Weber grill to a 50-foot trailer. Most are there solely to compete (and party, joked Hardman) and won’t be vending to attendees. Festival-goers will have access to around ten food vendors, some of which will be serving up delectable BBQ. Tasty craft beer will be served up by Grove Roots along with other beer selections to be announced.
If you want to taste the competition barbeque for yourself, you’ll need to snag a VIP ticket. “The VIP’s get to taste all of the chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket that is being professionally cooked,” said Hardman. VIP tickets also include access to an exclusive lounge area, $2 beers and cocktails, an air-conditioned restroom, and other perks, according to Ingley.
Under the Lake Wales Rotary Club umbrella, Orange Blossom Revue was able to make two sizable donations with more to come. A recent $5K donation was made to the Lake Wales Arts Center and another $5K to Lake Wales Little League. “Our push has always been about engaging young people with arts and culture and that includes athletics,” said Hardman. Ingley added, “That’s where our heart is – to be able to take that money and put it back into these programs and make them more affordable in the form of scholarships, in the form of whatever they need to help get kids – especially disadvantaged kids in this area – an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”
“This is all because we love Lake Wales and we love this event,” said Hardman. The pair love seeing people have fun and soak in the dynamic of an old-Florida lakeside location, killer bands and barbeque.
A Few OBR Pro-Tips:
- Bringing lawn chairs is highly-encouraged
- Coolers are not allowed
- As long as they’re on a leash, your four-legged pals are welcome to jam out too
The Orange Blossom Revue 2019
When: December 6 & 7
Where: Lake Wailes Park