LaBelle Heritage Museum Presents: Caren Neile “The Sweetheart State: Great Romances in Florida”

(Submitted photo/Joseph Thomas) Phoenix Hopper held by her mother Danika, Caren Neile, Diane Horsman & Sue Spencer at LaBelle Heritage Museum’s Special Speaker program featuring renowned storyteller Caren Neile on February 13th.

LaBelle Heritage Museum’s February Special Speaker program featured the founding director of the South Florida Storytelling Project and 2005 National Storytelling Network Oracle Award winner Caren Neile. Dr. Neile cohosts a weekly segment on South Florida public radio WLRN 91.3 FM. She has also written several books, including Florida Lore: The Barefoot Mailman, Cowboy Bone Mizell, the Tallahassee Witch and Other Tales. She shared stories from this book, to a captivated audience, last Valentine’s Day, at the Dallas B. Townsend Agricultural Center.

Neile was a delightfully captivating storyteller who had the audience in the palm of her hand, hanging on to every word. Each story she told was full of romance and intrigue. She even told everyone about the time she had seen a tourist had mistakenly trying to sit on an animatronic alligator for a photo op, and quickly realizing the giant reptile was alive and real. The audience joined in, telling a few stories and jokes of their own. Lastly, she shared the story of Florida’s own Pocahontas, Millie Francis, the daughter of a Creek chief who at the age of 15, saved an American soldier who had come to make war on her own people. Neile was able to make a somewhat serious and potentially tragic story, light and comedic. The audience applauded and cheered for Neile, at the end of the evening. Door prized were raffled off, and the author stayed to sign her books and chat with everyone who purchased them.

LaBelle Heritage Museum’s Special Speaker Program has been made possible by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council. The public is invited to attend this free monthly program. For more information call (863)674-0034 go to LaBelle Heritage Museum’s website:

Danika can be reached at

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