Wings & Wildflowers Festival Announces keynote speakers and event

Janisse Ray and Eric Draper are the keynote speakers for the Wings & Wildflowers Festival.
Janisse Ray and Eric Draper are the keynote speakers for the Wings & Wildflowers Festival.

LEESBURG—The 5th Annual Wings and Wildflowers Festival, to be held Oct. 14-16 at Venetian Gardens in Leesburg, is bringing some the nation’s top nature experts to the area.

The three-day festival, hosted by Lake County and the city of Leesburg, will feature keynote speakers Eric Draper, executive Director of Audubon Florida, and naturalist Janisse Ray.

Draper is executive Director of Audubon Florida, the state program of National Audubon Society. A Florida native and career conservationist, Draper was previously National Audubon’s Sr. Vice President for Policy, staff director for the Florida House of Representatives Majority Office, and government relations director for The Nature Conservancy’s Florida program, where he led efforts to fund Florida’s $3 billion Preservation 2000 program and eleven local land conservation measures.

Ray, a naturalist and activist, is also the author of six books, her most recent “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food,” published in 2012. She has received many honors including a Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry, the Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award. She lectures widely on nature, community and agriculture. Ray holds an MFA from the University of Montana and attempts to live a simple, sustainable life on a farm in Georgia with her family.

The pair will host a keynote dinner from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15 at festival host hotel Lakeside Inn, located at 100 N. Alexander St., Mount Dora. The $37 ticket includes dinner, dessert and entry to the Meet the Experts event.

For more information about the 5th Annual Wings & Wildflowers Festival, or to purchase a ticket to the keynote dinner, call 352-742-3918 or visit For up-to-date details on the event, follow the festival at or


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