Woodville Holds Annual Founders Day
By Keytron Hill
What initially appeared to be a celebration in Woodville on Feb. 28 ended up being far more.
The city of Woodville held its annual founders day, which turned out to be a festival of enlightenment and historical knowledge as the community celebrated at the J. Lewis Hall, Sr. Park and The Woodville Branch Library.
“Woodville is a significantly historical part of North Florida,” said Verna Brock, branch manager of the Woodville Library and organizer of the festival. “As a librarian and a person who loves history, I thought this would be a good way to celebrate the history of Woodville, help educate people and bring a lot of really interesting performers and re-enactors together.”
The festival kicked off with vendors and activities such as a butter making showcase and musical performances from Theatre with a mission. Despite the rainy weather, the civilians of Woodville didn’t let Mother Nature rain on their parade.
As the weather worsened, festivities were moved inside the library. The library was transformed into what seemed to be an early 1900s museum. There were books made especially for the festival that showcased men and women that lived in Woodville in 1910. Many families that occupy Woodville today are descendants of the many faces seen in the book.
In addition to the book of Woodville families, there were glass cases of early 1900 Civil War items that were accompanied by the Leon riffles, a confederate re-enactment group. Brock wanted to educate not only the children of Woodville on the history of the war and the role Woodville played in the Capital of Florida ‘s development, but she wanted to educate the adults as well.
“I feel like they needed something to come around as a community, and a lot of this stuff is something that a lot of people didn’t know,” she said.
The teaching continued as songwriter and musician Ernest Toole and his granddaughter Sara Toole, set up their guitar stands and sang duets. Their songs depicted real life stories that revolve around Florida’s history such as the old Tallahassee community of Smokey Hollow and the story of The Dozier School for Boys located in Marianna. Before starting each tune, Toole explained the song and gave a brief description of the songs history.
“This is apart of our history and its some of the oldest history in this country, we have such an interesting history, the Spanish, the native Americans who were here, Blacks that came down and joined them. Our history is some of the best there is. Don’t take it too personal, you got to address it and you have to talk about it,” said Toole.
Bruce Ballister, a book writer and attendee of the festival, confessed what founders day meant to him as a member of the community.
“A lot of people will just live in a spot and think that nothing ever happened here and don’t realize the historical significance of their own location. Every place has its story and founders day helps bring this community closer to its story,” said Ballister.