When the Dade City Garden Club began selling an annual holiday ornament to raise money for the club, the decoration was simple: a two-dimensional square.
That didn’t matter.
The ornament’s theme — the Historic Pasco County Courthouse — touched a chord among area residents and quickly sold out, recalled Pat Carver, who was involved in getting the ornament sales off the ground.
When people bought the ornament, they would say things like, “This was the room where I got married,” or, “this was where my mother was a secretary,” Carver recalled.
The garden club didn’t originate the fundraising idea, but it recognized its potential, Carver said. Jackie Preedom, a fellow garden club member, heard about it when she attended a convention. Since then, the ornaments have been popular with the community.
“There are people who anxiously look forward to what the next ornament is going to be,” Carver said.
That’s because Dade City is a place where people still feel a connection with each other, and with the town’s landmarks and institutions.
“We love our community,” Carver said.
Apparently, the idea of selling an annual ornament to raise money for the club has had staying power – the tradition has been going on for two decades now.
Proceeds help pay expenses to maintain the garden club’s building, grounds and botanical garden to support club projects, according to club member Sally Redden. Those projects include floral, horticultural and environmental programs, flower shows, garden tours, and civic beautification projects.
The entire garden club votes on what the ornament should feature. Each is accompanied by a card stamped with a picture of the ornament on the front and contains a brief historic account on the back.
This year the garden chose to pay homage to the Pasco County Fair. Like the garden club, the fair has deep roots in the county. Both got their start in 1947.
Fairs in Dade City date back to 1915, but there hadn’t been any for a long time. The Pasco County Fair evolved from the Pasco’s participation in the Florida State Fair, according to the ornament’s fact sheet, and was designed to showcase county resources.
Rancher D. E. Cannon led the efforts, with the help of Jimmy Higgins, George Nikolai, Bob Williams and Joe Collura. They found a 40-acre tract along State Road 52 and raised $3,500 to purchase the site.
The Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce were instrumental in helping raise the money from local businesses and the community.
The first documented Pasco County Fair began on Jan. 20, 1948.
Ornaments are available for purchase through garden club members and at the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, 14112 Eighth St., in Dade City.
The ornaments are $22 each, and checks should be made payable to the Dade City Garden Club.
Here are some of the ornaments the Dade City Garden Club has sold over the years:
1994: Pasco County Courthouse
1995: Dade City Grammar School (Cox Elementary)
1996: Dade City Garden Center
1997: First Presbyterian Church of Dade City
1998: Historic Pasco County Courthouse
1999: Dade City Woman’s Club
2000: Pioneer Florida Museum
2002: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
2003: St. Leo Abbey Church
2004: First United Methodist Church of Dade City
2005: National Guard Armory
2006: Atlantic Coastline Railroad Depot
2007: First Baptist Church of Dade City
2008: Williams/Lunch on Limoges
2009: Pasco High School
2010: Lacoochee School House at the Pioneer Museum
2011: Pasco Packing Plant
2012: Pasco County World War II Memorial
2013: 1913 Pasco High School
2014: Pasco County Fair
Published October 22, 2014
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