Latest Area News

Buzzworthy events from June 19-25

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:38am

Want a few suggestions for what to do, where to go and who to see? You’ll find them here each week. Look for details and more ideas throughout Showcase.

Blue Marlin Classic: The 2015 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic is underway June 17-21 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The fishermen aboard a fleet of more than 80 sport-fishing yachts will be trolling for giant blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo while vying for prize money. On Friday and Saturday nights the Baytowne Marina is filled with spectators as the prize-winning fish are weighed in. The nightly weigh-ins are open to the public. The boats start fishing June 18 at 3 p.m. and continue until lines out late June 20. The weigh scales are open Friday 4-9 p.m. and Saturday 4-10 p.m. at the Baytowne Marina at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Visit

Ballet under the stars: The Northwest Florida Ballet will stage its annual free community performance series featuring a mixed repertoire of classic and modern works this summer at Rosemary Beach and Grand Boulevard. The first performance, Starlight Ballet, will be at Rosemary Beach on June 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Owners’ Pavilion at the St. Augustine Green. The second performance, Ballet at Twilight, will take place in Grand Boulevard at San-destin on June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

SUNday event: The NorthWest Florida Astronomy Association will hold an International SUNday event on June 21. Several telescopes will be set up to safely view the Sun. This year, International SUNday coincides with the summer solstice with the Sun as high in the sky as it will get all year. The event will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Destin, from 10 a.m. until sunset. Visit or call 678-6483 before SUNday.

Sailing camp: Emerald Coast Sailing Association ( non-profit ) is conducting summer sailing lessons camp for ages 8-80-year-olds. The two-week camps start dates are June 22 and July 6. The first two camps are at the Fort Walton Yacht Club and the third at Bluewater Bay Marina. Morning class starts at 9 a.m., and afternoon class starts at 1 p.m. The cost is $250. Registration can be done at or call George Goodall at 862-7276

’Nunsense’ auditions: “Nunsense” is a musical comedy that became a Stage Crafters classic in 1996. Now they’re giving a fresh retake. Auditions: Five talented women of varying ages are needed to fill this cast. Be prepared to sing selections from the musical and read dialogue at 7 p.m. June 22 and 23. Scripts available at 6:30 p.m. at the Rehearsal Hall, 40 Robinwood Drive S.W., Fort Walton Beach. Directed by Don Goodrum , show dates are Aug. 14-16 and 21-23.

ADSO luncheon: Charlotte Arnold, award winning portrait painter, plein air, and watercolor artist, illustrator, and teacher, to name a few of her areas of interest, will be the speaker at the ADSO Luncheon on June 24 at the Art Center Gallery, 17 First St., Fort Walton Beach. The luncheon, which is open to the public, will begin at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $12. Reservations must be made no later than June 22. Send reservation requests to: or call 376-3901.

Cym Lowell: Come to the Walton County Coastal Library 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. June 25 for a discussion and book-signing with Cym Lowell who will talk about his book “Jaspar’s War.” Lowell is a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam and a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Call 267-2809. Coastal Branch Library is at 437 Greenway Trail.

Dancing with Desire fundraising for The Arc of the Emerald Coast

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:06am

Editor's note: Noah Galloway has canceled his performance June 18. Actress Willow Shields will perform as well as Mark Ballas. 

The 10th annual Dancing with Desire will bring “Dancing with the Stars” and local celebrities to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center stage tonight at 7.

There will also be a special performance by the winners of the local talent contest, singers Christopher Gaines and Jacklyn Henley.

The event is presented by the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Proceeds from the event benefit a non-profit. For the past two years, it has benefited The Arc of the Emerald Coast (formerly Horizons).

“It’s just heartwarming to know all these people are performing on our behalf,” said Donna Tashik, who does community development with The Arc of the Emerald Coast Foundation.

The $10,000 raised last year helped the non-profit with its goal to provide services to children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syn-drome, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. It has more than 450 clients.

The money likely went into day-to-day operations as well as remodeling two group homes in the last year, Tashik said.

“The needs of The Arc are ongoing,” she said. “When we can get funds that we can put into our general use, that is huge.”

Last year’s event was stunning, Tashik said. The dancers from Fred Astaire alone are amazing, she said.

Tashik expects nothing less this year.

“The atmosphere is elegance, fluid motion,” she said. “Just talent, plain talent.”

Want to go? Tickets at the door cost $50 for general admission, $35 for a military/senior discount in balcony seats, and $100 for VIP, which includes a meet-and-greet with the stars after the show. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville.

Here are the dancers participating in this year’s event:

Senior Master Sgt. Christian Hendrick: An active-duty airman who has been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Commendation Medal and Army Commendation Medal. 

Danny Wuerffel: A former professional quarterback and Heisman Trophy recipient. He was a star athlete at Fort Walton Beach High School, where he graduated from in 1992 before going on to the University of Florida.

Tony Dovolani: A professional ballroom dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” for 19 seasons. He and Melissa Rycroft won the Season 15 competition. He’s been a frequent participant in Dancing with Desire.

Mark Ballas: A professional dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” for 16 seasons. He won Season Six and Eight with Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson, re-spectively.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy: A professional ballroom dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” for 14 seasons. He won Season 18 with Meryl Davis.

Ye Olde Brothers Brewery catching on in Navarre (PHOTOS)

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:00am

There’s something satisfying about sitting in a rocking chair with a cold beer in your hand.

Only a few months after their opening, Ye Olde Brothers Brewery in Navarre was packed during our visit, so we waited on their front porch for our table.

It was easy to see why there were so many people at the restaurant after our meal.

See more photos of the meal. >>

The food
The brewery hasn’t started selling its own beers yet, but it has a revolving selection of craft beers from local spots like Pensacola Bay Brewery and Grayton Beer Co.

Unfortunately, just after we dined there, their menu changed. According to a Facebook post, certain dishes were property of a manger who has left.

A new menu hasn’t been posted online yet. I won’t be listing items in their old menu, but I will talk about what we tried.

We started off with the bacon-wrapped scallops, which are served with garlic butter, parmesan cheese, and “secret spices.” Dunking the savory-sweet bacon-wrapped scallop into the warm, melted butter was the highlight of the meal.

My guest’s entree came with a loaf of brown bread and honey butter and a tossed salad with lettuce, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese and tomato as well.

Other appetizers include stuffed mushrooms, chicken wings and a garlic loaf.

I noticed a number of people carrying out pizza boxes, so I opted for one of the brewery’s brick oven pizzas for my entree. The “Marquis Lafayette Cajun Shrimp Pie” (all of the specialty pizzas are named after Revolutionary War-time figures) is topped with onions, sausage, green peppers, sliced tomato, shrimp, green onions, “secret spices” and double cheese.

The pizza was tasty — imagine succulent shrimp, crispy-yet-tender roasted vegetables and brown, bubbly cheese.

My guest ordered the Original Navarre Orleans Shrimp Fettuccine. It was rich, creamy and spicy — the slow burn in the back of your throat kind of spicy.

The atmosphere
The brewery has a comfortable and cozy feel to it. The front porch is well stocked with rocking chairs, tabletops and benches for waiting patrons.

Inside, there’s a bar area as well as booths, tables and tabletops. Old photos, kitchen gear like cast iron pans, and more hang on the walls.

The service
We waited to be seated for about 30 minutes on the front porch. A cocktail waitress circulated the porch taking drink orders.

The kitchen was backed up due to a large party as well, so it took some time for our food to come out.

Our waitress was friendly, funny and cheerful. She did her best to refill our drinks and deliver our food in a timely manner.

A final taste
With its casual atmosphere and delicious food, Ye Olde Brothers Brewery is sure to be a Navarre mainstay. I can’t wait for it to start brewing its own beers!


Location: 4458 Highway 87 N. in Navarre

Phone: 684-1495

Mondays through Thursdays, 3 - 9 p.m.
Fridays through Saturdays, 3 - 11 p.m.

Handicap accessibility

Price range


Dinner entrees



Children's Menu

Specialty Pizza

Major credit cards

Chenoweth to star in Sinfonia’s 10th anniversary gala

MIRAMAR BEACH — Keeping tempo on the Emerald Coast cultural scene since 2005, Sinfonia Gulf Coast will mark its milestone 10th season by offering a stellar lineup of concerts and educational initiatives featuring the orchestra, world-renowned guest artists and a gala event headlined by an award-winning singer and actress.

The season was announced Wednesday during a special lunch at the Sandestin Beach Hilton Golf Resort & Spa.

Maintaining the nonprofit’s tradition of “symphony redefined,” the Sinfonia 10th Anniversary Gala Event, to be held on Nov. 13 at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, will feature the star of stage, screen and TV, Kristin Chenoweth.

Winner of the 2009 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the ABC series “Pushing Daisies,” and a 2010 and 2011 Emmy and a 2011 People’s Choice Award nominee for her role as the quirky former songstress April Rhodes on Fox’s hit comedy, “Glee,” Chenoweth has become a star in her own right on television.

However, theater lovers may best remember her for her 2003 Tony Award-nominated role of Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked,” and 1999 Tony-winning performance in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Sinfonia will likewise start its season on a high note Sept. 24 with an intimate cabaret-style performance by Nikki Yanofsky at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood at the Sandestin Hilton Beach.

Yanofsky released her album “Little Secrets” last year, which was executive produced by entertainment legend Quincy Jones.

The event, the sixth in an annual series with Seagar’s, will feature a special wine dinner created by award-winning executive chef Dan Vargo.

With its continued commitment to education and emerging guest artists, Sinfonia will present two winners of New York City’s Young Concert Artists, who were also awarded the related Sinfonia Gulf Coast Prize.

French clarinetist Raphaël Sévère, winner of the 2013 Sinfonia Gulf Coast Prize, will be the featured soloist performing W.A. Mozart’s “Concerto for Clarinet & Orchestra” during the Nov. 7 Classical Connections concert at Grace Lutheran Church in Destin.

The 2012 Sinfonia Gulf Coast Prize winner, vocalist Julia Bullock, will take the Sinfonia stage on Jan. 29 at Destiny Worship Center when she will perform selections by George Gershwin, Josephine Baker and Leonard Bernstein.

Sinfonia’s annual holiday concert on Dec. 11 at Destiny Worship Center, will feature orchestral arrangements of several seasonal classics and the return of Broadway singer and actress Morgan James.

Also at Destiny Worship Center, Jamie Bernstein will return on Jan. 29, 2016, to host two morning performances for Okaloosa and Walton County’s third through eighth grade students. The program, titled “Cowboys, Caballeros and Copland,” explores the music of American composer Aaron Copland.

Bernstein will also join Sinfonia during an evening performance as featured narrator for Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.”

The annual Sinfonia chamber music weekend returns to the intimate setting of Rosemary Beach Town Hall on Feb. 12 and 13 featuring the world-renowned Miró Quartet.

The season comes to a festive finale on April 9, when Sinfonia lets the good times roll with the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

Season tickets, which feature preferred seating for all five concerts, are available for $195 per person. Single tickets for the 10th Anniversary Gala range from $49.50 to $500 each and tables of 10 are available. Tickets for the Seagar’s cabaret and wine dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m., are $225 each.

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the gala, which begins at 8 p.m.

For more information or to purchase tickets starting July 1, go to or call 269-7129.

Cultural Arts Alliance launches Summertime Tour of Homes

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 10:42am

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Building upon the success of its annual Valentine Tour of Homes each February, the Cultural Arts Alliance rolls out a Summertime Tour of Homes sure to delight vacationers and locals alike who are looking to beat the heat in the steamy afternoons while touring five spectacular homes in South Walton. The tour runs June 25 through June 27 from 1-5 p.m. each day.

From a Gulf front house in Blue Mountain Beach just recently decorated by designer Erica Powell, to homes in Alys Beach, WaterSound Origins and Eastern Lake, all of these homes are some of South Walton’s most beautiful and unique and are currently on the market.

The Blue Mountain Beach Gulf front is stunning with its updated interior design, three floors offering sweeping views of the Gulf and outdoor terraces. The Alys Beach courtyard house is a modern stunner located in Arboleda Park just steps from the Caliza Pool, and is designed by architect Darrell Russell of Boheme Designs. It has a heated pool that doubles as a water feature with a waterfall running down a rock wall, an outdoor shower and a doggy shower. The Eastern Lake house features sweeping views of the lake and Gulf Views. Located in a golf community, the WaterSound Origins home was custom built by John Giles and Matt Parenzan and designed by architect T.S. Adams.

Not only will ticket holders be able to view award winning architecture and design, they will also see their favorite South Walton artists work on display and for sale at each home.

General admission tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at or at Smith’s Antiques in Destin, Fusion Art and Glass at Grand Boulevard, Sundog Books in Seaside and the Bayou Art Center in Santa Rosa Beach (CAA office.)

A daily $60 VIP shuttle package is also available and will include a one-day tour ticket, free parking and an air-conditioned shuttle ride to each of the homes.

Tickets must be purchased in advance at by June 19 and redeemed for wristbands inside Emerald Coast Wine and Spirits at WaterColor Crossings between noon and 1 p.m. the day of the tour. Shuttle parking is located on the green lot south of the WaterColor Crossing Publix building. The VIP shuttle tour will last four hours with dedicated time to tour each house. Emerald Coast Wine and Spirits will have wine packages available for shuttle passengers to purchase and enjoy on the tour.

All proceeds from the tour go to benefit the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County to fulfill its vision of making Walton County a destination for artistic and cultural excellence through which lives are enriched, economy is stimulated and community is strengthened.

About the Homes on Tour
288 Blue Mountain Road, Blue Mountain Beach listed by Erin Oden of Coastal Luxury Properties

422 Eastern Lake Road, Seagrove

60 Spice Berry Alley, Alys Beach listed by Rita Montgomery of Pelican Real Estate

731 Breakers Street, Watersound Origins listed by Will Palmer of Coast Properties

MKAF announces Bluegrass at the Beach

DESTIN — As part of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation 20th Anniversary celebration, MKAF and ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Real Estate will present the first Bluegrass at the Beach one-day music festival at the MKAF Cultural Arts Village on Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

This family-friendly celebration of music and culture will feature seven award-winning bluegrass bands, youth crafts and music in the Kid’s Art Village with an interactive Pickin’ & Paintin’ area, and a diverse array of food and beverage offerings. 

Tickets are on sale now. 

“We are excited to introduce the first Bluegrass Festival to the Emerald Coast,” said MKAF CEO Marcia Hull. “It is fitting tribute to connect with our roots for our big 20th Anniversary event. Local band Dread Clampitt was among MKAF’s early performances, and now they will be part of our first annual Bluegrass festival and join us in welcoming regional and national bluegrass artists to Destin.”

Bluegrass at the Beach will feature nationally acclaimed artists as well as regional and local bands. The line-up includes headliner, Blue Highway, along with The Hillbenders, Run Boy Run, Willie Sugarcapps, Moore Brothers Band, Dread Clampitt and Dismal Creek. 

In addition, rising star, Danielle Yother, a 16-year-old singer, songwriter and musician who was recently featured in Flatpicking Guitar magazine will make a special appearance. Young bluegrass fans can visit “Pickin & Paintin” to create and explore the artistry of music making, painting and more. 

“As an extension of MKAF’s All Kinds of Art initiative, which connects children with cultural experiences, education director, Melanie Moore, has incorporated engaging art and music projects that will be fun and educational for children of all ages” said Donna Fox, 2015 Bluegrass at the Beach event chair. 

Coolers and outside food and drink will not be permitted for this special one-day event. 

Tickets for the one-day festival are $45/MKAF members, $55/general admission. VIP tables will be sold for $750 each. They include premium seating for eight and 16 drink tickets. Tickets are available for purchase online at

Doors open at 10 a.m. Parking is available on-site as well as at convenient satellite parking areas with free shuttle service. 

Self-Portrait: Colby Detwiler

Staring at a unique piece of art, you can’t help but wonder at the mind that envisioned and created it. 

In its semi-regular feature “Self-Portrait,” the Daily News “picks the brains” of local artists about their development, their medium and more.

This week, we learn more about Colby Detwiler.

The Sketch

Name: Colby Detwiler

Homebase: Niceville

Primary medium: Acrylic


The Canvas

How did you discover your artistic ability?
My earliest memory involves myself at 4 or 5 years old drawing Batman for the very first time with a pack of Crayola colored pencils. I was a huge Batman fan when I was younger and still am. I wanted to emulate the cartoons and comics I saw, so I grabbed a pencil one day and haven’t stopped creating since. Eventually, as I matured, I began creating my own characters and stories for them. I think that helped to direct me to majoring in Illustration right now. I’ve always had a love for character development.

Describe your artwork.
Grunge Rock and ’90s cartoons. Honestly, I don’t know any better way of putting it. My work is often intense and controversial. Mirroring the movements of the grunge scene and the looseness of censorship involved with cartoons of the ’90s. It’s my own satirical commentary of the world around me. Even though my subject matter can be taboo, the playfulness it exudes helps to bring the underlying points across. In layman’s terms, you could say I’m more of an abstractive/street artist, with a dash of surrealism.

What are your influences?
I’d say my main influences boil down to two very important people in my life: my grandfather and my high school art teacher. Upon my junior year of high school, I was just starting to truly bud artistically. I spent most of my time at my grandparents house growing up and was extremely close to my grandfather. He began to notice that my art was more than just a hobby that I had picked up as a kid and could see it was becoming my passion. He encouraged me to go as far as I could with it. Much to my heartache, he passed away unexpectedly during my second semester that year. My high school art teacher had always pushed me to keep improving and growing as an artist. She helped me pick up the pieces after I thought my whole world had shattered once he passed. I began to devote myself entirely to the arts by this point, and she was right by my side to support me and watch me grow. I’ve been out of high school for a couple years now, but she continues to push me to succeed and support my endeavors. I know I’ll never be able to thank her enough for how great she treated me, and all her stu-dents for that matter. Aside from them I would say the greatest of my inspiration comes from music. I mainly listen to electronic music when I create. I find the lack of lyrical input in most songs allows me to get lost in the artistry behind the chord progression. When I close my eyes, I see a movement of color and patterns just yearning to be expressed on a blank canvas.

What drew you to your primary medium?
Probably the fact that acrylic dries so quickly. My creative process is very chaotic and I’m always working on at least three things at a time. So while one piece is drying, I can pick up where I left off on another. It’s funny really, my original medium of choice was Prismacolor Pencils. I have a knack for wanting to be a jack of all trades. I’m starting to work more with watercolor. I apply it more like an ink than the traditional manner because I’m infatuated with intense colors. I’ll probably produce a series of work or two in it then move on to something else. I’m quite interested in, serigraphy so I think that may just be my next venture.

Describe the place where you create.
I spend most of my time creating in my studio. Well, I call it my studio. To the normal eye, it would be considered a bedroom, but consider-ing that I spend most of my time working at my art desk, and I hardly ever sleep due to chronic insomnia, it’s a studio. What else can you expect from a 20-year-old college student?

What do you hope people who see your art experience?
My main goal is to make people think. I believe art is a question mark. I don’t think it should ever be an answer. Whenever someone asks me what my art means, the piece itself is my answer. I want my viewer to create their own meaning for what they’re looking at. I want them to have a reaction. Whether it be happy, sad, disgusted or confused. The only time I will see myself having failed as an artist is if I can’t make my viewer feel something.

Whose artwork is in your home?
Mine mostly. But it’s more so stuff I’m still working on rather than actually displaying proudly on a wall. I have quite a few pieces that I was fortunate enough to gather from fellow peers throughout the past couple of years. I have a handful of sketches a friend would make sim-ply because she was inspired by my “wacky” ideas. And a mesmerizing portrait another friend of mine, Stefanie Prinsloo, took of me. It was incredibly fun to pose for, and it’s one of my prized possessions. I think when I become more financially able to purchase others work, I’ll make a point to focus on up and coming artists. I’m a major supporter of the arts, and it’s only fair that (I) return the favor to the younger kids after me.

How much of your own artwork have you kept?
I have quite a few pieces from earlier years that are lying around in various portfolios. I try to make it my primary objective though, that whatever I produce, I make sure I sell. There are those exceptions where I just connect with a piece on such a level that I decide to hold on to it. Maybe as time goes on, and they begin to collect, I’ll feature them in a show or something. I have a ton of ideas for gallery showings.

Do you have anything you'd like to share (upcoming showings, etc)?
My last major showing was at ArtsQuest in Sandestin. It was an incredible turn out and I’m still honored to have been a part of it. I’d love to pass on my gratitude to the folks who run it as well as to all the people who came out and partook in the festivities. Currently, I don’t have many exhibits going on. It’s kind of a quiet/working period for me at the moment. There are a couple prospective galleries in Pensacola that I’m interested in showing in. Outside of those, I’ll more than likely feature in ADSO a few more times since I’m a fellow member with them. My main objective right now though is to get back up to the School of Visual Arts in New York to continue my education in the arts. I’ve had some issues regarding financial aid matters, and I’m working diligently to return.

The Unveiling

Want to participate? Readers can nominate an artist, or artists can participate by contacting Features Reporter Lauren Delgado at 850-315-4406 or

Buzzworthy events for June 12-18


Fiction book club
GULF BREEZE — Join the Page Turners Book Club at 10:30 a.m. June 12 in the Gulf Breeze Library study room. For this month's meeting, participants will choose a book written by Martha Grimes. There is a limit of 20 participants, so call the library or drop by to sign up. The Gulf Breeze Library is at1060 Shoreline Dr.


Rec center opening
FORT WALTON BEACH — On Saturday at 10 a.m., the City of Fort Walton Beach will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Fort Walton Beach Recreation Center. After the ceremony, guests are invited to tour the building and enjoy light refreshments. The event is free and open to the public and the building will be open until 1 p.m. The new Fort Walton Beach Recreation Center is at 132 Jet Drive NW. Call 833-9576.

Marina Day
BLUEWATER BAY — The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College and Bluewater Bay Marina to host the second annual National Marina Day celebration on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with fun activities that highlight Choctawhatchee Bay. All ages can enjoy fish-printing, touch-tanks with local aquatic life, paddle board tours, a volunteer oyster reef build, and more. National Marina Day’s theme is “Welcome to the Water- Dis-cover Boating.” Contact Sarah Davis at 585-7926 or


Meet the author
GULF BREEZE — Meet Kathleen Logan, author of “Second Blooming for Women: Growing a Life That Matters After Fifty,” as she discusses issues every woman faces at 12:30 p.m. June 16. Bring a brown bag lunch to the Gulf Breeze Library and the Friends of the Gulf Breeze Library will supply dessert and coffee. No sign up is required. The program is free and open to the public. Logan will have books available for purchase and autographs. The Gulf Breeze Library is at 1060 Shoreline Dr .


Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Join Sinfonia Gulf Coast for a special lunch as they announce their 10th anniversary season of symphony redefined at 11:30 a.m. June 17 at the Sandestin Beach Hilton Golf Resort and Spa Coastal Ballroom. Tickets are $45 per person; $500 per table of 10. Call 269-7129 or visit


Dancing with Desire
NICEVILLE — Dancing with Desire, presented by Fred Astaire Dance Studios FWB, is back for its 10th anniversary at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College on June 18. Doors open at 6; show starts at 7. Included in the performance this year are “Dancing with the Stars” finalist and military hero Noah Galloway, also his partner Sharna, Tony Dovalani, Mark Ballas and Maks. Tickets are $100 VIP, which includes a star meet-and-greet after the show, General Admission $50 and military/senior discount in balcony $35. All proceeds benefit The Arc of the Emerald Coast (formerly Horizons). Get tickets on line on the events page at, go by the Fred Astaire Studios at 11 Yacht Club Dr S.E., Fort Walton Beach, or call 376-1037.

Latin Salsa Festival to spice up FWB

FORT WALTON BEACH — Platefuls of ethnic food, earfuls of music and a park full of fun can be found June 13 at the 8th Annual Latin Salsa Festival. 

The festival will take over Fort Walton Landing Park at 139 Brooks St. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It was originally started in 2008 by Jose Garcia, president and founder of the co-sponsor of the festival, the Northwest Florida Boricuas Ausentes, Inc. He wanted an event that those of Hispanic or Latino descent could enjoy and share their culture with others.

Everyone comes together for the festival, Garcia said.

“It’s doing what I envisioned it would do,” he said. “Bringing people together.”

Here’s what you need to bring to the festival:

Your kids
There will be plenty of fun activities like rides and games to keep your children entertained if the dancing or the treats don’t do the trick.

Also, none of the vendors at the festival sell alcohol, Garcia said. He wants to keep the festival family friendly.

“This year we would like to gather all children present at the festival and (create) a ‘Portrait of Our World: The Future Starts Today,’” Garcia announced on Monday

To be included in the picture, kids are asked to come dressed in their national colors. More details will be available at the event.

An empty stomach
A number of cuisines will be represented at the festival.

“It’s a smorgasbord,” Garcia said.

Try food from the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and more.

“The event is like going on a Caribbean cruise but not leaving the Emerald Coast,” Garcia said.

Garcia described some of the dishes that can be found:

 Arroz con gandules: Rice and pigeon peas, often cooked with pork.

- Pernil: Pork roast.

- Papas rellenas: Potato balls filled with beef or other meats.

- Empanadas: Bread or pastry stuffed with meat.

- Morcilla: Similar to blood sausage.

For the less adventurous eaters, there will be the American staples of hamburgers, hot dogs and corndogs.

About 1/3 of the vendors are nonprofits fundraising for their organizations, Garcia said. Depending on whom you patronize, you could be helping out a cause while you feast.

Sense of fun
The festival is like a family reunion for many locals, Garcia said.

They all gather together to celebrate their heritage, their city or their own families.

“The fun is contagious,” Garcia said.

Dancing shoes
There will be plenty of live entertainment filling the park with music all day.

Breeze Entertainment LLC, a co-sponsor of the event, has organized a full lineup.

You’ll be entertained by Kno Y Su Orquesta, Ricky Luis, La Morenta Del Swing, Pietri El Fantasticos, Julio Iglesia Latin’s Sound, Jose L. Rodriguez, Tallahassee Salsa Dancers, Simply Panama, Salsa A Fuego, DJ Style, Dj El Poeta, and Bomba y Plena.

The Boricuas Ausentes’ Folkloric Dancers will close the festival.

“We send off everyone happy with that,” Garcia said.

Folding chairs and/or picnic blankets
You’re going to want a seat whether you’re scarfing down some pastelitos (pastries) or resting your feet from dancing.

Although the park has some seating, you’ll have better luck finding somewhere to sit with your own supplies.

Pepito’s now serves its popular food in FWB (PHOTOS)

FORT WALTON BEACH — For some years Pepito’s has been making customers who visit their Destin location happy.

Now diners can enjoy the restaurant’s offerings in Fort Walton Beach, too.

See photos of the meal. >>

The food
As with most restaurants specializing in Mexican cuisine, Pepito’s menu presents several pages of choices.

A complimentary basket of warm, crisp tortilla chips was brought to our table along with salsa in a small carafe and a bowl for serving it.

The carafe was an unexpected nice touch.

We added a small order of cheese dip to enjoy as well for our appetizer. It was tasty but a bit runny and difficult to keep on the chips.

Other appetizers include guacamole, bean and chorizo dips, Pepito’s Wings, colima hot dogs, and several kinds of nachos.

Pepito’s has a selection of soups, stews and salads, including chicken stew, soup of the sea and shrimp salad.

Entrees are divided into categories such as Favorites, Specialties, Seafood, Taqueria, Chicken Dishes, Vegetarian Platters, Enchiladas, and lunch (served 11 a.m.-2 p.m.)

There’s no way I can list all of the possibilities but they look and sound tempting! You can see most of the menu online at

There’s also a section “Just for Kids” with a variety of items priced at $3.99.

My guest and I both decided to take advantage of a section of the menu that promises 20 percent off your entree if you combine three or more items.

I chose a ground beef chimichanga, a chicken quesadilla and a shredded beef flauta.

My guest also had a beef chimi, a beef quesadilla and a beef burrito.

Both of our plates were brimming with goodness when they arrived.

One of the reasons I chose the flauta was because it came with guacamole and sour cream. Both added zest to the dish.

My guest and I both thoroughly enjoyed each item of our entrees. Mexican cuisine is one of our favorites.

Dessert selections at Pepito’s are chocolate cake, flan, sopapillas, chimi-cheese burrito, fried ice cream and vanilla ice cream.

I initially eyed the sopapillas but opted instead for the fried ice cream. My guest chose the chimi-cheese burrito.

Both were delicious with the burrito edging out the ice cream.

Pepito’s serves Coca-Cola products, iced tea and has a full bar menu.

The atmosphere
Pepito’s took over the location previously occupied by Coach-N-Four restaurant.

It had been a long time since I was in the building last, so I’m not entirely sure how many changes were made.

All of the inside seating we saw was booths. The bar was located behind us but I didn’t notice whether seating was available at it.

There is an outdoor patio that looks more like a waiting area than a dining option.

A cornhole game was set up on the southwest side of the building the day of our visit, and the late afternoon sun was beating down on it.

The service
Service was pleasant although a little erratic.

The restaurant was not busy when we arrived and, yet, we had to wait at the hostess stand a couple of minutes for someone to notice us.

After we were seated, it took a few more minutes for our server to arrive.

The meal progressed smoothly after that until we needed drink refills, which the hostess eventually noticed and provided.

None of those things seriously detracted from the meal. However, I was disappointed to notice that the promised 20 percent discount on our entrees was not applied to the bill especially since it is advertised not only in the menu but also right outside the front door.

Perhaps if I’d asked, that would have been corrected, but that shouldn’t be necessary; it should be automatic.

Final taste
Pepito’s serves good Mexican food with so much variety that everyone is sure to find something they like.


Location: 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. in Fort Walton Beach

Telephone: 226-4147

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Reservations: Not necessary

Handicap accessibility

Children's menu
Yes, $3.99

Price range:


Soups and salads

Side items

Favorites and Specialties



Credit cards accepted

Cultural Data Project, bumper crop of grant applications on horizon

The future of the Florida Touring Program still hangs in the balance, and a new initiative could make some tasks easier for state arts organizations.

Those are just two of the topics the Florida Council on Arts and Culture tackled during its second-quarter teleconference meeting bright and early June 2.

Division of Cultural Affairs Director Sandy Shaughnessy surprised the Northwest Florida contingent — three from Pensacola and myself — by sharing she had just visited Pensacola. She was invited to a reception welcoming the Spanish tall ship that was there a few weeks ago.

“I felt like I was in ‘Top Gun,’” she said with a laugh.

During the meeting, Shaughnessy also delivered the Fast Track Panel Meeting Report and Recommendations from May 12. The panel reviewed 26 eligible applications and 12 were recommended for funding. None was from here.

A continuing concern — the Florida Touring Program, which the council discussed at length earlier this year in Tallahassee — was brought before the council again by member and Council Secretary Kathryn Townsend of Seminole County.

The Division of Cultural Affairs put the program on hiatus this year after the governor cut it from the $43 million in arts and cultural funding that was approved last year.

Remember, this is the program state lawmakers are mandated by statute to fund. It traditionally costs about $200,000. For many years, the Division kept it going with federal funds.

There has been no change in the status since March. However, the Division hopes to revitalize it in such a way that its funding is more likely, perhaps by making it part of the education mission.

The idea of a private donor funding the program was suggested. Shaughnessy said while that would possible, “most people don’t like giving money to government.”

So, for now, the touring program’s best hope lies in the capable hands of Division staff, who, I assure you, care deeply about it.

On a more exciting note, the council was asked to give its blessing to funding awards for the 2015-16 National Endowment for the Arts Partnership Agreement Special Projects.

The NEA asks state arts agencies to use Partnership Agreement dollars “to support projects that provide access and services to the arts and cultural organizations in the state.”

For the upcoming year, the Division is also addressing recommendations from the new strategic plan.

There are six projects. Look for details in the meeting minutes when they are posted on the Division’s website, (Sometimes that can take a while.)

The one that got everyone talking is the Cultural Data Project. It would create a streamlined statewide data collection process for hundreds of arts and culture groups.

After setting up Data Profiles, groups would be able to track financials, audience participation, attendance and other activity.

“This is a national program,” said Gaylen Phillips, arts administrator. “Many states’ arts organizations are members.” She noted Maryland, Rhode Island and Arizona among states who use the Cultural Data Project, which is based in Philadelphia.

“It’s been around for more than a decade,” Phillips said. “It will take some effort to input the data, but once they do, organizations can use it so many ways.”

The project will provide reliable and consistent data to measure cultural activities, capacity and trends – all invaluable to marketing, advocacy, development – the possibilities are endless. The Council was pleased to give its support.

If all goes well and the project is approved, the Division wants to implement it in June 2016.

And, finally, the application deadline for Cultural Facilities grant applications is June 15.

As of last week, 74 applications had been received. In 2014, there were 55; in 2013, 29.

Looks as if arts and culture are flourishing again in the Sunshine State. 

Review: 'Jurassic World' bites into the modern blockbuster

Northwest Florida Daily News - Entertainment - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 12:39pm

Along the scaly spine of the Tyrannosaurus Rex runs the evolution of Hollywood blockbustering.

Twenty-two years ago, Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" set the standard for the kind of movie the industry has, ever since, bred like test-tube dinos. Their genes are genetically modified for the requisite computer-generated effects, merchandising tie-ins and theme park-style attractions.

While it's easy to lament the kind of films born out of Spielberg's box office record-setter, "Jurassic Park" was — and still is — a kind of pop perfection that has since been endlessly copied but rarely equaled.

"Jurassic World," the latest incarnation of the franchise, is lacking the deft sense of wonderment, wit and suspense that guided the original. Director Colin Trevorrow, who ended his first and only other feature, "Safety Not Guaranteed," with a Spielbergian magical twist, has instead made a more biting thriller hung up on the corporate mandates of post-"Jurassic Park" Hollywood.

What was once a charmingly hokey, if fatally misguided island resort off Costa Rica created by a wealthy, wide-eyed carnival showman has grown into a sprawling, monorail-traversed theme park worth billions. Jurassic World is a Dino Disney World, complete with long lines, bored teens and no shade to speak of. For better or worse, "Jurassic World" has done a very good job of recreating the theme park experience.

The feat of bringing dinosaurs back from extinction is no longer enough of a draw for the park, an obvious parallel to the pressure on Trevorrow to amplify entertainment and maintain franchise profit. New species of dinosaurs have been genetically created to satisfy the masses streaming through the gates. Some even get outfitted with electronic headsets, bringing us ever closer to the cinema of Dr. Evil: "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads."

"Bigger, louder, more teeth" is the demand of the park's corporate overlords, which includes the serene CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan). But the real face of the new Jurassic World is operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), a business suit-clad executive who calls the dinosaurs "assets" and describes the park in terms of revenue, not awe.

When her two nephews, a brooding teenager named Zach (Nick Robinson) and his younger, more excited brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) arrive for a visit, Claire still spends most of her time in the NASA-like control room or hosting potential sponsors.

The only one who seems to understand the dinosaurs is Chris Pratt's Owen Grady, a kind of Velociraptor Whisperer. He's trained a foursome of Raptors, each sporting their own nickname, by clicking sounds. He shouts commands ("Stand down, Blue!") that would sound more fitting for an over-friendly Russell Terrier than a resurrected Raptor.

When the dinosaurs' intelligence is again underestimated, chaos returns to the park, courtesy of a wily, ferocious hybrid of mysterious genetic makeup called the Indominus Rex. He's part T-Rex, part frog and all business when it comes to the chompy-chompy — none of that tenderness of the Tyrannosaurus. He's a focus group-tested product for maximum appeal — again, just like "Jurassic World."

The corporate commentary in the screenplay, by Trevorrow, Rick Jaff, Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly, comes across as heavy handed partly because it's not smoothed by humor. If the modern blockbuster could use anything, it's a rework by a few talented comedy writers. As a control room techie, Jake Johnson lands the only real laugh.

The 3-D "Jurassic World" is also an ugly, over-saturated movie; CGI has run amok here as much as dinosaurs. After nods to John Williams' classic original, Michael Giacchino's unremarkable new score punctuates the action, as the characters gradually come together from locations across the park. Vincent d'Onofrio's opportunistic military contractor is also lurking.

Pratt, the Harrison Ford heir apparent, slides perfectly into the film. But it's Howard who makes the biggest impact as a corporate cog whose controlled world is imploding. It's not a subtle portrait — she keeps her heels throughout — but her transformation is the most convincing one in a film full of dubious evolutions.

"Jurassic World," a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril." Running time: 124 minutes. Two stars out of four.


MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. 

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