Baseball has Fenway Park. Football has Lambeau Field. For water skiers, no single location is as storied as Winter Haven’s Cypress Gardens on the banks of Lake Eloise.
While water skiing may have been invented by Ralph Samuelson in 1922 on Lake Pepin in Minnesota, Dick Pope, Sr.’s Cypress Gardens and Central Florida’s Polk County transformed it into a global sport and entertainment phenomenon. No other destination on the planet has the history, inventions, world firsts, world records and visibility than Florida’s first theme park, Cypress Gardens, and Polk County. It is why we’re know the world over as the Water Ski Capital of the World.
Thus, it seems only fitting that Polk County play a key role in celebrating the sports centennial.
From water ski tournaments to the July 3 Water Ski Fireworks Birthday Centennial and culminating in the 2022 International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation World Water Ski Show Tournament on Oct. 22-23, Winter Haven’s Lake Silver will be the epicenter of the water skiing world.
“Our celebration of everything water sports will start with next year’s USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame event and culminate with the 2022 International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation’s World Water Ski Show Tournament,” said Mark Jackson, the director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing. “The October tournament features the best show water skiers in the world, right here in Winter Haven – where it should be.”
PCTSM has already formed a committee comprised of community leaders, water ski stakeholders and civic organizations so as to maximize the impact the year-long celebration will have on Polk County’s tourism industry.
Polk County is already home to the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Hall of Fame, located at the Visitor Information Center in Davenport. Featuring items from all nine disciplines, the museum features everything from a pair of the sport’s first water skis to a hydrofoil from long-time fan favorite Banana George and various tools of the trade.
The museum is inside of the Central Florida Visitor Information Center, 101 Adventure Court, Davenport.