New Executive Director at the St. Augustine Historical Society

The Board of Trustees of the Historical Society has selected Magen Wilson to be its executive director. Ms. Wilson has been a member of the Society’s staff since 2011. During that time she has created exhibits and presentations, served as manager of the Oldest House and Museum Store and currently oversees the operations of the properties, staff and programs. She will begin her duties as executive director in the middle of September 2016.


New St. Augustine Historical Society Marker to be Placed

The Saint Augustine Historical Society invites you to attend the unveiling of the historic marker “ST AUGUSTINE ON ANASTASIA ISLAND” on September 8, 2016, at 11:00 A.M. in the open field (overflow parking lot) just north of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm (999 Anastasia Boulevard).

Through the generosity of the Alligator Farm and Mr. David Drysdale, the Society is able to place this marker in a highly visible and easily accessed location.


St. Augustine, the oldest European-settled city in the United States, was located on Anastasia Island from 1566 until 1572. Spanish settlers had founded the city on the west shore of the Matanzas River on Sept. 8, 1565. They built homes and a fort. The fort and the supplies inside burned. On May 18, 1566, a council voted to relocate the city to the barrier island across from the first location. St. Augustine moved to the barrier island for protection from hostile Native Americans and European enemies entering the port. Documents describe in detail the city’s 6-year presence on the island–two forts, government buildings, barracks, a jail, homes, wells and fields for crops. No physical evidence has yet been found. Quarrying in the 17th and 18th centuries and erosion probably destroyed the remnants of the city on the island. Sixteenth-century reports note that the island city was two leagues (5-6 miles) from a strong house on San Julian Creek, placing the city in this general area of high ground and near the 16th-century inlet. The relentless ocean eroded the town’s location. In 1572 St. Augustine returned to the mainland.

LSU Press Fall 2016 Catalog Available Online

The fall 2016 book catalog from LSU Press is now available online. Click here to review it.

Several interesting titles caught my eye including:

Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier

The Battle of New Orleans in History and Memory

Devil’s-a-Walkin’: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s

Lt. Spalding in Civil War Louisiana: A Union Officer’s Humor, Privilege, and Ambition

Occupied Vicksburg (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)

Schooling in the Antebellum South: The Rise of Public and Private Education in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama

The Slaveholding Crisis: Fear of Insurrection and the Coming of the Civil War (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)

Stepdaughters of History: Southern Women and the American Civil War (Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History)

Wendell Phillips, Social Justice, and the Power of the Past (Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World)

The Resistance, 1940: An Anthology of Writings from the French Underground

The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War

Click on any of the Amazon links above to see the book and get more information or to order a copy. Happy Reading!

2016 New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest Cancelled

Financial Challenges Ground Balloon & Sky Fest

NEW SMYRNA BEACH – After seven successful years, financial challenges have grounded the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest, causing the cancellation of the 2016 event scheduled for April 1-3.

The Board of Directors of the Balloon& Sky Fest Foundation, organizers and operators of the event, voted Monday at its monthly meeting to call a halt to the popular festival, which annually featured night and day air shows, hot-air balloons, live entertainment, a carnival, and many other attractions, and focused on inspiring young people.  The Foundation’s charities each year included the Boys & Girls Clubs and other area youth organizations.

“This was a very emotional decision,” said Board Chairman Dr. Arlen Stauffer, one of the founders of the event. “There is a very dedicated group of people who poured their hearts and souls into Sky Fest, and it’s painful for it to end this way.” Stauffer said the event has perennially struggled to find enough sponsors and donors to make it financially sustainable, and the Board of Directors finally decided that it would be unwise to continue into next year, as that would create a significant risk of being unable to fulfill the obligations to the 2016 performers, vendors, and suppliers.

“By suspending Balloon & Sky Fest now, we are able to exit without owing any person, business, or organization any money,” Stauffer added.  “That is very important to us.”

The Board’s decision to cancel the event comes less than two weeks after the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority Board of Directors proposed to cut the event’s funding for out-of-county advertising in half, from $30,000 in 2015 to $15,000 for 2016. “The decision by the SVAA board was a huge blow to us….kind of a final straw,” Stauffer said. “Our annual patron surveys consistently showed that 40% of attendees came from outside Volusia County, and we needed to continue to attract those people for Sky Fest to have the best chance to survive.”

Theresa Perry, Executive Director of the Foundation, said the SVAA decision was just the latest of several threats to the long-term future of Sky Fest. She said the search for sponsors and donors was a constant challenge. “Balloon & Sky Fest was a huge event attracting national attention, but it was held in a small town. As the event grew, it became harder and harder to find sufficient regional and national sponsorship to keep it going.”

Perry said her biggest disappointment is for the volunteer Sky Fest Committee that spent countless hours each year organizing the event, and for the local community that supported the festival. “We had fantastic local support,” she said. “The City of New Smyrna Beach – local leaders, businesses, the public – all loved this event, and Airport Manager Rhonda Walker was fantastic. But the fact of the matter is that it just could not continue financially without more regional and national support.”

The New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest began on a Friday night in 2009 when ten hot-air balloons gathered at the city airport and drew a large crowd. During the next six years the event grew to be one of the largest annual festivals in East Central Florida.

Terri Perry

Executive Director

New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest

April 1-3, 2016


Balloon & Sky Fest Foundation, Inc.

1982 State Road 44, Suite 324

New Smyrna Beach, FL