Thursday, April 22, 2010

Follow us on Facebook!

In an effort to get the word out about the revival of Pine Castle Pioneer Days, we have established a new group on Facebook.

So, if you utilize that site for social networking, consider joining us in posting notes, articles, and photos about the festival and our community's history!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Now accepting "snail mail"

If email or blog posts don't suit you, please drop us a line by-old fashioned U.S. mail addressed to our new post office box:

Pine Castle Pioneer Days
P.O. Box 593175
Orlando, FL 32859-3175

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A call for volunteers

Between now and our next board meeting (5/5), I'd like to issue a call to everyone interested in reviving Pine Castle Pioneer Days to consider volunteering to chair or serve on one of these important committees:

FINANCE - To oversee the budget, donor/vendor relations, and advertising revenue.

HISTORY - To oversee history displays and re-enactors.

PARADE - To oversee route and participant coordination.

PUBLICATIONS - To oversee media relations, event program, and web presence.

SECURITY - To oversee safety during both during the parade and at event site.

SITE - To oversee grounds and amenities, including restoration of the iconic gazebo.

Please email any interest to or post a reply here!

Thanks in advance!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rising to the occasion is a Pine Castle tradition

An oldtimer once told me that Pine Castle is more of a state of mind than an actual place.
I suppose that's because it's so hard to define in terms of physical or geographic boundaries.

The original Pine Castle was a private residence, erected by a fellow named Will Harney who came to this little corner of heaven from Kentucky in the years immediately following the Civil War.

Harney was a poet by nature and training, and composed many tributes to the idyllic virtues of the Central Florida frontier. In truth, though, he endured all of the many hardships that our pioneer settlers encountered in those days. Even worse, he lost his young wife very soon after staking claim to land on Lake Conway south of Orlando. Deeply saddened, but undeterred, this single father tamed his homestead lands and erected a castle using the native pine trees. Dubbing the structure his "Pine Castle," he used it in the by-lines of the various articles he wrote as a correspondent for northern newspapers interested in the area.

Within a matter of just a few years, the name of "Pine Castle" wasn't just being applied to Mr. Harney's home, but to the entire neighborhood. (It was, after all, the most striking landmark between Orlando and Kissimmee!) Basically, that encompassed the modern cities of Edgewood and Belle Isle, and all the pockets of unincorporated Orange County that surround the Conway chain of lakes.

The people who settled the area around the original Pine Castle were a neighborly lot. They came together to work for the common good. Republican and Democrat. Baptist and Methodist. Yankee and Cracker. It didn't matter. The classic example of this community spirit was the old Union Church, erected in 1900. Just about EVERYBODY in Pine Castle had a hand in its construction, and it was used by all congregations.

Many years later, in 1974 to be exact, an annual festival sprang-up in Pine Castle to celebrate that pioneer spirit.

Sadly, the event had to be cancelled last year, and looked like it was going to be cancelled again this year due to financial difficulties of the former sponsor.

But, I am pleased to report that Pine Castle's pioneer spirit is still alive and well. An organizational meeting was held recently, and it was agreed to incorporate Pine Castle Pioneer Days as a non-profit organization. And, a date was even set (the last weekend in February, instead of the traditional October timeframe).

That means we've got less than a year until Pioneer Days comes back to Pine Castle. (Feburary 26 & 27th, to be exact!) So, once again, the folks in this little corner of heaven are faced with a challenge.

If history is any guide, the people of Pine Castle will rise to the occasion!

Pine Castle Pioneer Days Revived!!!

How exciting to know Pine Castle Pioneer Days will be held next February after not having one for a couple of years. This is a great opportunity to the community to come together and make this annual event the hallmark event of the Pine Castle community. The City of Belle Isle is pleased to support this unifying event. We look forward to focusing on the living history and heritage of the area through educational hisitoric demonstrations, displays, and special activities.

All volunteers are welcomed and encouraged to join the committee to participate in the planning and operations of the event. Please contact with your information so you can be included in the planning of this event.


Mark your calendars!

At our recent organizational meeting, the new board of Pine Castle Pioneer Days set the dates for the next festival: February 26 & 27, 2011.

Between now and that date, we will be holding regular meetings at the Belle Isle City Hall (1600 Nela Avenue) every first Wednesday of the month at 3pm.

Next meeting: Wednesday, May 5, 2010.