The project started in Polk County to create interest in the rich history of the citrus industry and offer folks an opportunity to visit different parts of the county. For many years crate labels were attached to ‘boxes’ of fresh citrus that were sent to markets; many were auctions where the seller needed to get the attention of the buyer. These crate labels were ‘billboards’ used to market citrus. The colorful labels have become popular with collectors and others interested in their historic and unique beauty. Each has an interesting history.
The Lake County Historical Society in conjunction with the many historical organizations throughout the county joins the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame to tell the story of Lake County citrus through a Citrus Label Tour.
What is the Citrus Label Tour?
Large (4’ by 4’) signs depicting a crate label are placed at various locations in the county where folks can visit them. These sites all have public access and vary considerably. Many are located on city or county facilities (parks, civic centers, courthouse, city hall, etc.). A number are placed at Historical Society office/museum. A map is available showing the location of each crate label sign allowing folks to spend time driving around the county to visit them.
As the Polk County flyer says “explore part of the historic marketing portion of citrus through the artistic labels that once adorned the old wooden crates used to ship the fresh fruit off to northern markets in the early 1900s. Marketing labels were used to distinguish citrus brands from others when selling
them in markets. These artistic labels displayed various depictions of Floridian heritage, flora and fauna, historical sites, military and animals. The citrus labels were popular during the early 1900s and thrived until the end of World War II. After the war, there was a serious shortage of wood and metal, which brought about the switch to shipping citrus in cardboard boxes with preprinted labels, putting an end to the creative crate labels for which Polk (and Lake) was known.” The label signs are displayed at various sites along the tour trail. The tour can be an adventure to explore the rich history of Lake County citrus and enjoy visiting the many towns and rural countryside.
Travelers can see old Lake County through the crate label signs as they visit locations that once had citrus packinghouses from one end of the county to the other. At one time there were more than fifty (50) fresh fruit packing facilities in Lake County.
The Citrus Label Tour gives folks the opportunity to hit the road and see Lake County up close. To experience small towns, enjoy rural drives, venture into new venues, dine at a variety of restaurants and get a true feel for this magnificent area that once was dominated by citrus groves, juice plants, packinghouses and all the support industries to keep the citrus giant going. Along with the tour, travelers can learn as much as they want about the citrus industry via the website. A wealth of information can be found there; download the map
and information for your first day’s drive (once on the road for one day, you will be anxious to complete the adventure – it may take several days depending on how long you linger to shop and dine!). The Citrus Label Tour offers day trips full of history and adventure that your family can enjoy; whether it is just you or a couple or an SUV full of exuberant travelers.