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TBFinancialGroup.com TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters.
MARCH 2018 // VOL.14 NO. 5 // F e a t u r e s
36 Near & far
A taste of Mount Dora is on the menu Catch the Pig on the Pond in Clermont I always feel like Google’s watchin’ me!
Whether it's a three-hour tour, a day away, or a long weekend, there's plenty to do and lots to see in the Sunshine State. STORIES: LEIGH NEELY, JAMES COMBS, MARY ANN DESANTIS, THERESA CAMPBELL, CHRIS GERBASI
On the covers
Special Adve rtising Section
Back to basics Though Liz Cornell is concentrating on growth and restructuring TB Financial Group, she doesn’t let it get in the way of client needs or the professionalism they expect.
LAKE & SUMTER STYLE PHOTOSHOP: JASON FUGATE VILLAGES EDITION PHOTOGRAPHY: FRED LOPEZ MODEL: LIZ CORNELL
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Think outside the beach he mere mention of Florida
automatically conjures up two images in our minds: People lying on sandy beaches sipping a cool cocktail, and smiling tourists enjoying a white-knuckle thrill ride at one of the state’s many theme parks. I love Mickey and friends as much as the next person. And the smell of sunscreen, the sand between my toes, and waves crashing ashore make the beach an enjoyable destination. However, there are hidden gems scattered across our area and region, and with a little gas in the tank, you can enjoy them in one day. To help unearth some of these hidden gems, our editorial team hit the road and traveled to some fascinating destinations in recent weeks. Staff writer Chris Gerbasi was left breathless after venturing into the underwater world of mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Managing editor Leigh Neely’s mind was blown away after receiving a reading from one of Cassadaga’s resident psychics. Staff writer James Combs felt a little giddy-up in his mood after seeing the beautiful Gypsy vanner horses at Gypsy Gold in Ocala. And staff writer Theresa Campbell made waves after writing about Jack Travers Water Ski School and World Wakeboard Center, both located in South Lake County. We highlight plenty of other fun-filled destinations: The Plantation on Crystal River, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, Sarasota, Showcase of Citrus, the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, the Florida Citrus Tower, and Jones Brothers & Co. Air and Seaplane Adventures. We hope this month’s feature encourages readers to explore one or more of these enticing places. Who knows? You might find them to be every bit as magical as Disney. Until next month,
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Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2018 by Akers Media. All rights reserved. Lake & Sumter Style is a registered trademark of Akers Media. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For back issues or billing information, call 352.787.4112. Return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts and artwork if they are to be returned. Manuscripts are welcomed, but no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. “Paid Promotional Feature” and “Special Promotional Feature” denotes a paid advertising feature. Publisher is not responsible for claims or contents of advertisements. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of Akers Media.
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harmonyunitedhc.com March 2018
BACK TO BASICS Though Liz Cornell is concentrating on growth and restructuring TB Financial Group, she doesn’t let it get in the way of client needs or the professionalism they expect. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
ince TB Financial Group opened in 2013, owner Liz Cornell has graced the pages of Forbes magazine, established a business model and a workshop formula envied by other financial planners, and turned her company into one of the fastest-growing insurance agencies in the country by doubling its business four straight years. Whoa, Liz! Slow down. Take a breath. That’s exactly what the 31-year-old plans to do in 2018. She’s taking a fresh look at TB Financial Group to make sure all that growth
doesn’t get in the way of her clients’ needs or her original vision: to succeed through honesty, integrity, and professionalism. TB Financial Group is a retirement planning company specializing in annuities and life insurance products. Liz, a certified annuity specialist, has built her 12-year career on annuities, including fixed annuities and index annuities. Advantages of annuities include taxdeferred growth, guaranteed income, principal protection, and access to your funds should you need them. TB Financial Group also is fully
independent and may work with any insurance carrier. Liz credits much of the company’s success to the staff and mentors around her. But as the client base and staff grew exponentially, she decided to pull back on the reins of the galloping growth. “We grew really quickly and we needed to restructure some things and reorganize,” Liz says. “The challenges we have now are very different than what they were four and five years ago.” TB Financial Group, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in August, is now a well-established
I’m spending this year getting the high-quality staff in place to take the business to the next level. —LIZ CORNELL
and trusted advisor. But serving more clients means the company is adapting to changes, such as an increase in policy renewals and client reviews, while updating and upgrading its processes, and identifying untapped markets like young consumers who don’t have retirement plans. “I want to learn. I understand that you can’t know everything, that it’s constantly changing and constantly evolving,” Liz says. “I want my staff to be constantly learning and challenging themselves and growing. We have a great staff, and I’m really committed to having the best.” Liz is fine-tuning TB Financial Group and getting “back to basics” after a
whirlwind ride with a high trajectory. “I’m spending this year getting the high-quality staff in place to take the business to the next level,” she says. “We have a high level of service and a high level of expectation. I take very seriously that our clients entrust us with their retirement savings, and if a client calls, it’s a big deal for them because they don’t do this for a living. We wanted to get some fresh faces and reset the bar, reset the tone.” From the outset, Liz’s goal was to set new standards of excellence in the financial services industry while providing superior client service and technical analysis. Liz says she was fortunate to have a voice in recent years in regulatory
changes in the financial services industry. “I ultimately got into this business because I want to change how business is conducted,” she says. “With most advisors and agents, when it comes to working with their clients on investments, there’s always been this underlying tone of ‘Tell them as little as possible.’ Get people to trust you because your kids are cute and you drive a nice car, and if you seem nice, they’ll give you their money. I could never do business with someone that way.” One of the pillars of TB Financial Group is education. Liz’s workshops to educate consumers about annuities and life insurance products have been tremendously successful and well-attended. Visit
We have a high level of service and a high level of expectation. I take very seriously that our clients entrust us with their retirement savings. —LIZ CORNELL
tbfinancialgroup.com for workshop dates. She also plans to write a financial book this year, ideally something educational and easy to understand. “My philosophy is you educate people as much as possible and let them make their own decisions. At the end of the day, it’s their money and their future,” she says. “Most people don’t give themselves enough credit and think, ‘Oh, it’s so complicated.’ It’s not.” Liz and her clients are on a journey together, building lasting and meaningful relationships. These days, she wants to reach out to a new category of clients: younger
people who have inherited retirement money. The future of Social Security is tenuous, pensions are disappearing, and many people in their 20s and 30s don’t have a grasp of retirement plans or taxes or 401(k) plans, she says. “It’s an underserved market,” Liz says. “I want to work with younger folks on how to navigate through that while putting themselves in a really good financial position.” Liz says she is still learning about being a business owner, but her goals remain the same. She wants TB Financial Group to attract customers from all over the country while remaining the go-to hometown financial planner. “It’s still about providing the best level of service and, ultimately, to be the national player for annuity products,” she says. “It’s a big undertaking and not something I can do by myself. It’s a long journey to get there.” As the company approaches five years in business, Leesburg native Liz remains firmly entrenched and involved in the community, raising
This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. TB Financial Group, Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life insurance, health insurance, fixed annuities and fixed indexed annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. We are not attorneys. We will not provide investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult your investment advisor, tax preparer, CPA or legal professional for these matters.
her 5-year-old son, Payton, in the same area where she was raised and where her family has resided for many years. Her father, Jim Cornell, served at First Baptist Church Leesburg and now is chaplain at Lake County Jail. With those deep roots, Liz and TB Financial Group plan to serve their clients for the long haul. “The most important thing to me in the world is doing the right thing for people,” Liz says. “If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.”
F INANCIAL G ROUP I NC . 3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F2, Fruitland Park 352.350.1161 tbfinancialgroup.com
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SEE STORY on PG 28
T H I S ‘ N ’ T H AT
In the Know
James Presley is creating a positive RAAAP at the Sumter PREP.
* #I TnR ETNhD eI N GK n o w
A place to SHINE
J o s h Ta k e s O n :
AN ADMITTEDLY ASKEW POINT OF VIEW FROM THE MIND OF ILLUSTRATOR JOSH CLARK
If you’re a senior and in need of help with information about Medicare, Medicaid, or other health insurance questions, you can find it at the Leesburg Public Library. On Tuesday, March 6, from 9:30-11:30am, representatives from Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, will be available to answer questions, help you get information, and maybe take some of the confusion out of these important matters. Please bring your Social Security card, a bank account statement (checking, savings, certificates of deposit), any kind of investment statements (IRAs, stocks, bonds, savings bonds, mutual funds), tax returns, payroll slips, and your most recent Social Security benefits awards letter (or statements from railroad retirement benefits, veterans’ benefits, pensions and annuities). If you don’t have these documents, provide the best estimate you can to ascertain whether you can quality for Medicare Extra Help with your prescription drug costs. Volunteers will help you with documents. You must submit them to the Social Security Administration.
Showcasing fine art More than 100 fine artists and craftsmen from all over the country will display their work along Main Street in downtown Leesburg in a juried show March 10-11, as part of the 41st annual Leesburg Fine Arts Festival. This popular show begins 10am both days and will feature festival foods, kids’ art zone, local authors signing their books, and student exhibits.
As lovely as a tree Knowing how valuable trees are, The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation didn’t want to harm one that happened to be on land needed for additional parking for Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe, 106 W. Lady Lake Blvd. Roy Smith, who is a member of the foundation board, thought the tree might be special. According to an auxiliary spokesperson, an arborist was hired and found the tree could be as many as 250 years old and is healthy enough to be around for many more years. As a tribute to the more than 900 members of The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary, the tree was dedicated to them at a recent ceremony. You can visit the tree, which is near the store, and maybe do some shopping to aid the auxiliary while you’re there.
Time to bracket up, college basketball fans! Pick your favorites, pick your longshots, and put your money into the office pool for the NCAA tournament. Oh, sure, the law generally indicates that most office pools are illegal, but that never stopped enterprising Americans before. And 81 percent of human resources professionals say their companies have no policies on March Madness pools, according to wallethub.com. You’ll be one of the distracted employees that cost businesses about $4 billion each year during the tournament. More than $9 billion will be wagered, mostly illegally. But you’ve got to like the odds for filling out a perfect bracket: one in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s quintillion). In other words, someone has a better chance of winning back-toback Mega Millions lotteries, buying one ticket each time, than picking a perfect bracket, wallethub.com says. C’mon, Stony Brook!
will be wagered in office pools
* #I TnR ETNhD eI N GK n o w
Ja m e s C o m b s’
A Leesburg man won $5 million after purchasing a lottery scratch-off ticket. I just hope the payment plan isn’t $5 a year for the next million years. Florida legislators in Tallahassee are trying to pass a new law to allow law enforcement officers to pull over motorists who are texting or emailing. Let me say this loud and clear: I CANNOT STAND PEOPLE WHO TEXT AND DRIVE. In fact, when I see other drivers texting, I roll down my window and throw my beer at them. A bicyclist who was pulled over by a Leesburg police officer for not having a working taillight fired his gun and hit the patrol car windshield. Shooting at a police officer during a routine traffic stop? I’d say this guy is a true cycle-path.
A Tavares man was arrested after drowning a raccoon he deemed a nuisance. Yes, I can understand his frustration when the animal entered his home, but was it really a matter of life and breath?
A rising country music star was charged with driving under the influence after he allegedly rear-ended someone at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Eustis. That should give him great material for an upcoming song. After all, alcohol is the main subject in 99 percent of country songs.
A bill sponsored by a state senator who represents South Lake to allow concealed guns at churches on private school campuses was “shot” down by the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee. Could you imagine if it had passed? I can just hear the pastor after giving announcements and talking about upcoming events. “Oh, don’t forget that next Sunday we’re going to begin offering weekly target practice after our 11am service.”
The Stagger Mud Run Paddling Adventure will be a big attraction in Astor beginning at 9am March 24. Launching from Powell’s Campground, 25716 Powell Drive, the guided trip will take paddlers into Lake Dexter and Stagger Mud Lake. The Lake County Water Authority notes the shorelines offer scenic vistas and opportunities for wetland animal species observation for paddlers. For more information, call LCWA at 352.324.6141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking senior safety to the next level The Lake County Sheriff’s Office offers services for seniors to keep them safe. If you live alone, you may want to join the Lock Box Program, which gives police, fire, and emergency medical services access to your home if you can’t open the door. The box has an access code that only these emergency responders know. To qualify, you must be 55 or older or disabled and pay a one-time $18 fee for the cost of the lock. Participants receive a spare key so they can access the lock box. Senior Watch is designed for those who live alone or have medical problems that should be monitored daily. It is free, and when you join you receive a special identification number. If you don’t call the Senior Watch telephone operators every morning, they will contact a neighbor or relative to check on you. If that cannot be done in a timely manner, a deputy sheriff is dispatched to your home. Call the sheriff’s office to join by providing your name, address, and telephone number and a few details about yourself. For information on these and other senior safety programs, call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 352.343.2101.
Did ancestors serve in Revolutionary War?
All the village is a stage The Sharon Performing Arts Academy is offering acting classes for adults and teenagers. The classes, set for three hours a week for six weeks, are designed for actors at any level, from beginners to seasoned professionals. Instructor Trevin Cooper will lead Acting Level 1, Basics for the Actor, and instructor Whitney Morse will teach Acting Level 2, Voice and Body. Both classes are scheduled for 6-9pm Mondays from May 21-June 25 at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center, 1051 Main St., Spanish Springs Town Square, The Villages. The cost of each course is $250. For more information and registration, visit the Sharon box office or thesharon.com/academy, or call 352.751.7799.
Are you curious about whether you are a descendant of Revolutionary War soldiers or civilians who helped in the establishment of the United States during the war years of 1775-1783? Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution will offer free Monday sessions at 9:30am March 12, 19, and 26, at the second-floor Genealogy Room of Cooper Memorial Library, 2525 Oakley Seaver Dr., Clermont, where they will answer questions. Participants are encouraged to bring a list of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, if possible. Those unable to attend may call Dotty Dill at 352.242.9805 or 352.205.3800 to make an appointment for another time, or email email@example.com.
* PIEnR STOhN eO FKI NnToE w REST
How do you define “alternative education” at Sumter PREP? Alternative ed-
Born in Leesburg and reared in Wildwood. Earned B.A. at Flagler College and master’s in education leadership from Troy University. Married to Yolanda with two children, Shakinah and Malachi. PREP stands for Positive Response Education Program.
ucation is providing nontraditional instruction in a nontraditional environment to meet the needs of nontraditional students. We are allocated for 100 students, grades 3rd- 12th.
What is your PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and support) system? It’s called “Creating a positive RAAAP!” It’s built on five school-wide expectations: Be Respectful, Accountable, Attentive, Active, and Positive. It’s built on the concept that students should have an opportunity for three positive conducts to every one negative conduct weekly, and that parents should have an opportunity for three positive phone calls to one negative phone call weekly. PBIS celebrations are offered every Friday to recognize students who met the expectations for the week. Weekly PBIS phone calls are made to the parents of the students who made it to the celebration. There is a PBIS
transition plan with seven expectations that all students are striving for in order to return to their zoned school.
What are your success stories? Ninety-three percent of the students who transition back to their zoned schools do not return to Sumter PREP Academy; we have a nationally and internationally recognized PBIS program; Dr. Anna Winneker, of the Florida PBIS Project and the University of South Florida, recognized our program; 35 administrators from the Netherlands visited our program on Valentine’s Day 2017; I became a PBIS mentor to schools of Sumter, Lake, Seminole, Pasco, Hernando, Indian River and Columbia, and Dade counties; and I was invited to speak at the BER (Bureau of Education & Research) Conference at Orlando and the Stay Woke Conference at Philadelphia.
What are your future plans? We are in the process of implementing a community
investment program called “training and trades.” We have a commitment with T&D Concrete, Galaxy Home Solutions, Carpet Depot & More, and Cuttin Up Barber Shop to train and hire students of Sumter PREP Academy to work for their businesses. Career Source will also offer paid summer internships to students who work for the companies in the summer.
Your best and worst subjects in college? Best: business management; Worst: oral communications.
Favorite movie about school? “Lean on Me.” Favorite meal at the school cafeteria? Pizza on Fridays. Pet peeve: Tardiness. I do not like to be tardy or people who are consistently late.
Photos: Fred Lopez
V I TA L
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Cyrus Rug Gallery Downtown Ocala on the Square
* OI UnT TS ThA NeDKI NnGoS w TUDENT
V I TA L
Age: 19 // YA L E U N I V ER S I T Y ST U D EN T
2017 Wildwood High School graduate. Offered full scholarship at Yale University.
My life since Wildwood High School: I’d say my life’s been
Has double major in linguistics and physics. Grandmother Phyllis Green has been his guardian while growing up.
pretty good overall. I actually have more free time than I know what to do with. I struggle more with what to do in my downtime than how to do my schoolwork.
One word to describe me: Nonchalant. What I do for fun: I prefer relaxation over fun. One time my suite had a mini pizza party and I decided to go to sleep instead, and then cleaned our suite when I woke up. This is a recurring pattern. Not that I particularly mind, as cleaning is kind of relaxing.
Favorite Yale dining food: Tres leches cake. I remember reading about it in 11th grade Spanish 1, and I had it for the first time over the summer at Yale. There is not a cake in existence that is so moist, soft, and sweet.
What I miss from home: Being relatively warm year-round. Florida is called the Sunshine State for a reason.
My passions: Draw, and study languages. I always feel like I’ve accomplished something after a good session of drawing a portrait or learning some vocabulary.
If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead, it would be: This is an obscure figure, but I would choose Benjamin Jowett (1817-
1893). He is most known for his translations and commentaries of “Plato’s Dialogues.” I remember finding an old online copy of “Plato’s Republic” thinking I’d read it, but I ended up devouring Jowett’s commentary instead. HIs writings were intelligent, open-minded, and sincere. I couldn’t detect anything frivolous or hateful in anything he said.
Favorite movie: I’ve always liked the movie “Happy Feet.” I remember watching as a kid and loving the singing and tap dancing. And it’s all a part of the plot, so it never feels forced or extraneous. Personal philosophy: I try not to be get overly excited, angered, or saddened by anything. Keeping everything leveled is just a pleasant experience overall.
Favorite quote: “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses, especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”—Leonardo da Vinci.
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Keep your lenses in for Boom Boom LaTrec Eyes a popping for the stripper. STORY: FRED HILTON
hat’s the most important invention of all time? You could make a pretty good case for a number of things, including the wheel, canned beer, sliced bread, Mr. Potato Head, and the internet. The Fidget and Brussels sprouts definitely are out. One overlooked item that belongs on top of the list is the contact lens. That little chunk of circular plastic brightened the lives of many pudgy kids with Coke bottle bottom lenses in their glasses.
Contacts are a huge business today with hundreds of millions of people wearing them. That number likely would be more had not Lasik and cataract surgery been developed to correct eyesight. Attempts to make a contact lens go back to Leonardo da Vinci in the 1500s. Da Vinci had the bright idea of altering vision by submerging the head in a bowl of water or wearing a water-filled glass hemisphere over the eye. Needless to say, this idea fizzled, so Leo turned to painting, where he did very well.
Another oldie-but-goodie, René Descartes, dabbled with the idea of placing a glass tube filled with water in front of the eye. From that flop of an idea, René learned that philosophizing pays better than inventing. The first successful contact lens was invented in the late 19th century using blown glass and could be worn for only brief periods of time. In the 1930s, plastics were used. Lenses have evolved into today’s contacts, which can be worn around the clock. Wearing contacts before the soft lenses were perfected was a challenge. After years of wearing thick glasses, I got a pair of hard plastic contacts in my 20s. They hurt. You could wear them only a couple of hours at a time until you got used to them. Initially, your eyes bugged out like a cartoon character with springs to push his eyes forward a foot or so out of his head. The biggest drawback to hard contact lenses was they popped out and went flying into space for no good reason at all. I spent lots of time down on my hands and knees, rummaging through nasty floors looking for a transparent piece of plastic. Through bitter experience, I learned that the worst
possible place to have a contact pop out is on an ice skating rink. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe that I ever ice skated and it makes my ankles hurt just to think about it. Anyway, be assured that no one will ever, ever find a lens that dropped on ice. Clearly, the most horrid loss of a contact lens occurred for me on the Great Excursion to See the Stripper. Remember, this took place a lot of years ago and we lived in the middle of the Bible Belt. Strippers, along with liquor by the drink, were severe no-no’s in those days. The laws began to slowly liberalize and, before long, both booze and strippers were legal in a few places around the state. We had gone to Virginia Beach with some friends for a mini-vacation. While there, we read that a strip-tease artist was performing at one of the night clubs. Off we went. It was a full house, but we were lucky enough to get a table near the stage. We settled in and ordered some adult beverages while anxiously awaiting the performance of the stripper, who, as I recall, was named Boom Boom LaTrec. Finally, the show began. The crowd went crazy as Boom Boom bounced onstage.
She may have looked a bit like she’d been rode hard and put away wet, but what do you expect from someone named “Boom Boom”? There was considerable whooping and hollering from the crowd, which included a predominance of sailors from ships in nearby Norfolk. Boom Boom began her boom-booming routine, shedding one piece of clothing after another. The sailors went crazy. Then, the unthinkable happened. One of my contacts popped out and I couldn’t see Boom Boom. I got down on my hands and knees, groveling through the beer-coated, stinky floor. I didn’t bother to ask for help because my wife was laughing at me so hard she spilled her adult beverage on my head. The folks at nearby tables had a hard time deciding which was more entertaining, me or Boom Boom. Finally, I found the errant lens. It’s a miracle I wasn’t blinded by the crud on the lens, but I got it back in my eye—just in time to see Boom Boom strutting off the stage. I heard a rumor that Boom Boom retired and moved to The Villages, where she line dances at Spanish Springs. Keep your eye out for her.
Clearly, the most horrid loss of a contact lens occurred for me on the Great Excursion to See the Stripper.
Fred Hilton Fred Hilton spent 36 years as the chief public relations off icer/spokesman for James Madison University in Virginia and 10 years prior as a reporter and editor for The Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia. He is now happily retired in The Villages with his interior designer wife, Leta, their Cadillac Escalade golf cart, and their dog, Paris. (Yes, that makes her Paris Hilton).
So much more than assisted living! Meet Gary, Osprey Lodge’s bus driver –voted one of our top employees by residents and associates! From driving the bus for resident appointments and trips, to playing a round of pool, or performing an impromptu ballroom dance, Gary is a big part of “Lodge Life.” He makes our residents feel special every day! Come get a taste of lodge lifestyle yourself. Schedule your tour today and receive an Osprey Lodge signature gift as our way of saying “thanks for getting to know us.” Call Ruth Cantillon at 352.253.5100
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F e at u r i n g
8 From the bubble to the globe Villagers know how to pack and go for great travel!
2 Luck of the Irish Wearing of the Green.
14 ‘The Orphan Master’s Son’ A timely book for today’s world.
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St. Patrick’s Day Festival events in The Villages March 14 Lake Sumter Landing Market Square: Sounds of Scotland, 4:45pm; The Villages Cheerleaders, 5:15pm; Rathkeltair, 5:30-9pm; The Villages Twirlers Show Team & Drum Corps, 6pm; The Villages Gem Stone Dancers, 6:45pm; Prime Time Twirlers, 7pm; Mystic Jewels, 7:45pm at Pavilion; Marcille Wallis & Friends, 5-9pm at Lake Shore Drive stage; Perseverance Brass Band, 5-9pm near RJ Gator’s; Sunshine Strollers, 5:45pm near Lake Shore Drive Stage. March 16 Spanish Springs Town Square: Sounds of Scotland, 4:45-5:15pm; The Villages Cheerleaders, 5:15pm; The Empty Hats, 5:30-9pm; The Villages Twirlers Show Team & Drum Corps, 6pm; Aloha O’ Ka Hula Dance Troupe, 6:45pm at the Gazebo; Marcille Wallis & Friends, 5-9pm at Del Mar Stage; Perseverance Brass Band, 5-9pm on Alverez Avenue; Sunshine Strollers, 5:15pm between TooJay’s and Katie Belle’s.
Luck of the Irish Villager leads Irish American Claddagh Club to new heights. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
he future of the Irish American Claddagh Club of The Villages was recently up in the air after the death of the club founder/president. The grieving vice president didn’t want to take over, yet Villager Dottie Hockey believed the group needed to continue—just like the late Patricia Ross would have wanted. Dottie volunteered as president by telling the members: “If you’ll help me, I’ll do it because Pat would not want our club to die.” Founded in 2007, the club is one of four IrishAmerican groups that began as a social opportunity for Villagers with Irish heritage. The club meets at 6:30pm the second Wednesday of the month from SeptemberMay at Colony Cottage Recreation Center, 510 Colony Blvd. “We are starting golf, bocce, bowling social groups within the club and planning a possible trip to Ireland in 2019,” Dottie says, adding her group will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 14 with a catered corned beef dinner and Irish pub-style entertainment by Patrick Hagerman. “It will be a club atmosphere of allnight singing and dancing,” says Dottie, a 16-year Villager from Buffalo, New York. She’s 65 percent Irish and her late husband, Marty, also had Irish roots. After the one-year anniversary of his death, Dottie learn she had breast cancer. “I said, ‘OK. It’s here, let’s get it [the surgery] done, because there are things I have to do,” she says, recalling the staff at Moffitt Cancer Center was impressed by her can-do spirit. “At Moffitt, they were saying, ‘We wish everybody came in here like you.’” Dottie strives to live each day to the max, and she aspires to see the Irish American Claddagh Club grow. “Yesterday is gone. Today is now and there is no promise for tomorrow, so live it and be up,” she says. “It’s good to wake up every day; I’m living my bucket list.”
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Respect for military burns brightly Pride in service to country is evident. STORY: JOE ANGIONE
Villagers are honored to have served their country, and it’s very satisfying to see how active military visiting The Villages are treated.
ne of the largest concentrations of retired and former U.S. military personnel resides in The Villages. You can see them proudly wearing shirts and caps denoting their branch of service, the wars in which they saw combat, and former naval personnel display the ship they served aboard. Many cars have license plates with military themes. Villagers are honored to have served their country, and it’s very satisfying to see how active military visiting The Villages are treated. If you show up in uniform, you will be thanked for your service, bought a meal, or a drink at a Villages club or restaurant. I’m proud to see the respect for our military that burns so brightly here is spreading across the nation, particularly now when threats from new and old enemies are more terrifying than ever. With a grandson newly graduated from Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, I hear stories from him about the surprisingly frequent instances when strangers approach him, thank him for his service, and offer to assist him in some special way. When traveling here for Christmas last year, he said wherever he stopped someone wanted to buy breakfast or lunch. And when returning to Fort Leonard Wood after Christmas, while sitting in the Orlando airport, a little boy, maybe 4 or 5, stood nearby with his father and kept looking over at my grandson. After a few minutes, the father brought the child over to say hello and immediately the little boy jumped on his lap and gave him a big hug. There were lots of smiles and a few tears on the faces of those who saw this. Reactions like these to our young people in uniform are happening everywhere, except perhaps on college and university campuses, where it hasn’t sunk in yet that getting an excellent education in a secure environment is a right and a privilege preserved for them by those who serve and protect “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We must do everything we can to honor military personnel and to ensure our government provides what they need to do their jobs well. Not only do our men and women in uniform protect us, without them there would be no freedom anywhere on Earth. In this regard, they are the world’s most precious resource.
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From the bubble to the globe Well-traveled Villagers have seen all parts of the world. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI
VILLAGES SCUBA CLU B
ubai? Check. Machu Picchu? Yes, of course. New Zealand? Been there, done that. When Villagers gather to swap travel tales, they cover the globe. Just ask Robert Paluszak, leader of the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club in The Villages. Robert and his wife, Marilyn, once went around the world in 400 days with 155 different stops. They’ve journeyed to about 40 countries overall—and they’re one of the least-traveled couples in the club, he says. “It’s humbling. My family thinks I’m a big adventurous person. But there isn’t a place on the planet that somebody in our group hasn’t been to,” Robert says. Like all Villages clubs, the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club is a social venue for people with similar interests.
The club meets at 4pm the first and third Thursdays of each month at Laurel Manor Recreation Center, 1985 Laurel Manor Drive. Everyone is welcome, and meetings attract anywhere from 40 to 120 people. About 450 Villagers are on the club’s mailing list. Robert has taken over leadership of the club in recent years from Charlie Jacobson, who founded the club in 2008 to encourage Villagers to explore different countries and cultures and to provide a forum for travelers. “The club is all about sharing stories, experiences, and your adventures of traveling overseas,” Robert says. Each meeting features a travelogue from a member who presents information, photos, and memorabilia
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E D I W D L WOR B U L C L E V TRA
from a foreign trip. These destinations are everywhere and anywhere around the world. For example, Charlie and his wife, Diane, gave a presentation on the Trans-Siberian Railway through Mongolia and Russia. Member Dianne Zalewski spoke about her month-long cruise to Australia by way of the South Pacific with stops at Fiji and New Caledonia. France, India, and “the five Stans”—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan—also have been highlighted in recent travelogues. In short, the club’s agenda reads like an atlas. The meetings also have segments such as “Where in the World?” in which photos are shown and members identify the location and relate any travel stories connected to the photo, as well as travel quotes, travel tips, and travel humor. But Robert and Marilyn particularly enjoy what comes after the meetings: dinner with up to 16 fellow
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club members where the conversation is like their travel—all over the place. A mention of the Suez Canal may lead to memories of the Panama Canal, and so on, as the friends share anecdotes about trips. “It’s a fascinating group of people,” Robert says. Ask Robert about his favorite place in the world and he likens it to picking a favorite child. His favorite depends on what he’s looking for in a vacation, from the beaches of Cook Islands in the South Pacific, to a mountain resort in Queenstown, New Zealand, to the food of Germany. Shirley Bevan also gets asked that question a lot. “My favorite place is the place I’ve never been to,” says the globe-trotting founder of the Traveling Villagers. Shirley unwittingly kick-started the club in 2017 when she asked neighbors if they enjoyed traveling as much as she did, and soon a club was born. Now it has
about 220 members who meet at 6pm the second Monday of each month, except July and August, at Moyer Recreation Center, 3000 Moyer Loop. Members with similar travel interests get together to plan trips. For example, some members recently went to Australia and New Zealand, and another group is heading to national parks. “It’s a social club where people who like to travel meet other people who like to travel,” Shirley says. “We have the perfect venue, because if you want to travel with another person, you can go to lunch or go golfing and spend time with each other before going on a trip with each other.” Shirley curbed her club duties this year because, naturally, she’s too busy traveling. Earlier this year, she and about 500 other Villagers took a Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Epic—where Shirley won a dance competition—and she’s booked trips to Arizona, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Spain, Africa, and other locales. Last year, she went with fellow club member Ellen Cora on an Asian cruise that included stops in Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. “I would’ve never done that if I hadn’t met her,” Shirley says. Shirley’s traveling increased four years ago after she and her husband, James, retired to The Villages. Now a widow, she’s found an easy way to fund her fun. During The Villages’ peak season, she rents out her villa—which nets a pretty peso—and hits the road. “I rent my villa for an absurd amount of money,” she says. “I pack up my stuff and take off for five months on their money. It doesn’t get any better than this.” When she’s visiting another country, Shirley likes to immerse herself in the culture by taking public transportation, shopping where the locals shop, and dining at neighborhood restaurants. “I love meeting people and I love to see how other people live,” she says. For many Villagers, the fun is less in the journey and more in the destination, such as locales for outdoor adventures.
This year’s itinerary for The Villages Scuba Club includes a Caribbean cruise with dives off the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao; the Rainbow Reef Diving Center in Key Largo; the Jupiter Dive Center; Cayman Brac, one of the Cayman Islands; as well as the Mexican island of Cozumel for scuba diving and whale shark snorkeling. The club has 166 members, some of whom, like Madeline Helbock, never dived until they retired to The Villages. She was one of the original members when the club formed in 2002 and now is copresident. The sport provides exercise, and the club provides camaraderie, she says. “We have great people, we go to great places, and everybody likes everybody,” says Madeline, speaking by phone from a boat after a dive off Key Largo. Villagers obviously don’t need to travel far to enjoy other worlds. On water and on land, clubs cover the state of Florida. The Deep Sea Fishing Club offers monthly saltwater fishing charters that include Atlantic and Gulf deep sea fishing and flats fishing on the Gulf, while the Freshwater Fishing Club organizes eight fishing and picnic outings a year. Both The Villages Goldwing Club and The Villages Nomads schedule extended motorcycle road trips throughout the year to cities around the state. The Barefoot Beachcombers Club travels to beaches within one to three hours’ travel time of The Villages, and occasionally to farther spots for overnight trips. This year, Homasassa Springs and Crystal River, New Smyrna Beach, and St. Pete Beach are on the agenda. Reef Rovers, a beach travel club, enables Villagers to enjoy sand and surf while forming new friendships, according to its website. Among this year’s destinations are Nokomis Beach and Treasure Island. The Reef Rovers’ motto extends good wishes to Villagers no matter where they may travel across the globe: “May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.”
Each meeting features a travelogue from a member who presents information, photos, and memorabilia from a foreign trip. These destinations are everywhere and anywhere around the world.
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‘The Orphan Master’s Son’ By Adam Johnson. A frightening look into the totalitarian country of North Korea. STORY: DIANE DEAN
Because so little is known about the real North Korea today, it is difficult to sort out what might be ﬁction and what is actually factual.
he Bookworm Book Club selected a timely book for this discussion: “The Orphan Master’s Son,” by Adam Johnson, takes place in North Korea. Our facilitator, Beth Hicks, lived in South Korea in the early 1990s. While much has changed since then, her examples of culture, lifestyle, and values of the Korean Peninsula were enlightening. Beth stressed the value Koreans place on respect for and care of the elders in their society. She noted the most important thing to them is to “save face,” to not be insulted or demeaned, to appear less than someone else. The book reflects other cultural factors, including indoctrination to an attitude of hatred and distrust of the United States. The characters develop an inability to make decisions easily because they are told what to do rather than make their own choices. There is no personal freedom, and the entire family of a defector is likely to be killed or put in prison. The fear of stepping out of line or doing something that could be construed as disrespectful to the “Dear Leader” orchestrates the path of their existence. Beth noted this is “normal” for the Koreans. Some readers wondered, “Who are we to define ‘normal’ for another country’s people?” The DMZ—demilitarized zone—exists today still under a “truce,” not a peace treaty. The North and South sides meet each week to talk about this. The meetings have gone on
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Fiction Bestsellers for decades. This year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, opened a window for talent from the North to participate. The main character’s name is Jun Do. The similarity to our American name of John Doe was not lost on readers. We read of his growth and experiences, first as a sailor, then a prisoner, then an imposter and husband to a woman he idolized. Yet throughout, Jun Do is loyal to the regime of Kim, the “true orphan
master.” The story is told with multiple voices and has a complexity some found confusing. Because so little is known about the real North Korea today, it is difficult to sort out what might be fiction and what is actually factual. The author stated, “I feel my book is a very accurate portrayal of how the tenets of totalitarianism eat away at the things that make us human: freedom, art, choice, identity, expression, love.”
As of February 16
1 The Great
BY KRISTIN HANNAH
2 The Woman
in the Window BY A. J. FINN
3 An American
About the author Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. He also wrote “Fortune Smiles,” “Emporium,” and “Parasites Like Us.” “The Orphan Master’s Son” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013.
BY TAYARI JONES
4 Still Me BY JOJO MOYES
Member comments: I want my grandsons to read this book just so they will gain some appreciation for the country where they live. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time. —Pat Gable, Glenbrook Yes, this is a diﬀicult read and I often had to put it down. However, we should not turn a blind eye to the horrific events that this book depicts. It certainly is akin to reading about other horrific events in history such as the Holocaust and the genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. North Korea systematically and without impunity kills, imprisons, and tortures its own citizens for often imagined slights to the “Dear Leader.” Perhaps this book will shed some light on why it is so diﬀicult to open a dialogue with North Korea. —Kathy Porter, Rio Ponderosa I found the novel interesting but hard to read. It was depressing reading about the cruelty and degradation the lead
character had to deal with. I was glad I read it, however, because it gave me a better understanding of what is going on in North Korea. —Brenda Bobay, Hemingway
5 Dark in
Loved it. Like a nightmare you can never wake up from and full of wonderful dark humor, but with a protagonist you find yourself rooting for until the end. —Judy Whiton, Dunedin
6 Look for Me
“The Orphan Master’s Son” was a big disappointment to me. I read the first third of the novel and kept wondering, “How did this ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction?” Usually I finish a book for our book club discussion, but this was one that I couldn’t. —Mary Jo Johnson, Ashland This book is a depiction of a country that brutalizes its people and seems to be able to suﬀer the consequences without care. It’s important for us to see that these conditions really do exist. —Nancy Vaas, Hacienda
BY J. D. ROBB
BY LISA GARDNER
7 Little Fires
Everywhere BY CELESTE NG
8 City of
Endless Night BY DOUGLAS PRESTON, LINCOLN CHILD
9 Origin BY DAN BROWN
10 End Game
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WATER SKI AND WAKEBOARD IN SOUTH LAKE Moving on the water. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL
roveland and Clermont-area lakes attract enthusiasts who enjoy wakeboarding, slaloming, jumping, barefoot, and trick skiing on the water. Interested in learning to water ski or wakeboard? Specialized instructions are available at several South Lake County facilities, including Jack Travers Water Ski School, 20225 County Road 33, Groveland. The family-owned, 110-acre site with slalom and jump courses on three lakes—Sunset Lakes—was designed by Jack and Lelani Travers. “We take beginners just getting up on skis or wakeboard to the elite tournament skier,” Lelani says. “Our youngest person to learn to ski was 18 months and our oldest is 80.” The ski school’s goal is to help people have fun on
the water while they are led by USA water ski-certified coaches. Summer camp sessions are offered for youths during two-week blocks between June 1 and Aug. 31. Youths experience a camp-style setting during summer camp; the school also has villas and suites for adults. The Travers couple host up to six tournaments a year, along with the Travers Grand Prix, geared for professionals and amateurs interested in competitive skiing. “It’s a great out-of-the-box pro-am event,” says Lelani, adding the top 20 men and women and top 10 juniors compete for a place at the Nautique U.S. Masters in Callaway Gardens, Georgia. “Waterskiing is more than just buoy count and rankings for most of us,” according to traversgrandprix.com. “It is about family, fun and community; the Travers Grand Prix exists to bring those back into the forefront of the sport.” World Wakeboard Center, 19022 Orange Ave.,
Groveland, has been in existence for more than 24 years and offers the longest-running wakeboard camp geared for beginners to those experienced in higher-level riding, according to its website. In addition to a full-time wakeboard, wake skate, and wake surf program, the center also offers weekly sessions year-round for wakeboarders of all ages and skill levels. Customers commend the center’s coaches and lakefront facilities for being “the best in the industry,” the website states. Swiss Ski School, 13114 Skiing Paradise Blvd., Clermont, sits on 450 acres with Swiss Vacation Houses, four manmade lakes, one large natural lake, five slalom courses, and two jump ramps. Owner and manager Katty Parent says guests come from many countries to relax on vacation and enjoy water sports. The water ski school on the property provides customized lessons for water skiers of all levels.
/ M T.D O TAVARE S
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY Lovers of the great outdoors can ﬁnd attractions in Tavares, Mount Dora, and Leesburg. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI
y land, water, and air, residents and visitors can enjoy all the staples of outdoor life along the LeesburgTavares-Mount Dora corridor. Jones Brothers & Co. Air and Seaplane Adventures takes off from Lake Dora in both Tavares and Mount Dora, offering 15 sightseeing rides and daytrips. The choices include the “Splash and Dash” 15-minute tour of the Harris Chain of Lakes, breakfast and swimming at St. Johns River and De Leon Springs, lunch at Eaton’s Beach on Lake Weir, a romantic dinner at Hillstone Restaurant on Lake Killarney, or a party at lakefront bars on the Harris Chain Bar Hop. The seaplane tours attract visitors from near and far, owner Rob Galloway says.
Indoors, the house at 1195 W. Magnolia St. offers self-guided tours and is home to the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce. As a visitor center, the Mote-Morris House presents the perfect first impression of Leesburg, chamber Executive Director Sandi Moore says. “People who are moving here, the first thing they say is, ‘What a nice little town,’” she says. “It’s really nice because we want to show that we’re a homey small town with big-town amenities.”
PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
“We get a lot of international people, the people who come to the Orlando attractions and want to get out of there for real Florida stuff,” Rob says. “And we do a lot of local business, too, like residents who want to show their friends and family the area.” Jones Brothers offers combo packages with boat tours on the Dora Canal. Mount Dora is home to several tour companies, such as Cat Boat Tours, where guests pilot their own CraigCat powerboats up to 35 mph, guide Todd Voss says. The two-hour journey goes around Lake Dora, through the cypress tree-lined canal, out to Lake Eustis and back, with stops along points of interest. On Lake Eustis, visitors can find Get Wet WaterSports, which rents boats, kayaks, and personal watercraft. The business caters to customers’ every need so they can spend quality time with their family, owner Vinnie Vittoria says. “Literally, we do everything for them,” he says. “They don’t do anything but enjoy themselves.” From Get Wet, visitors can reach any downtown area by water, or fish in some of the best locales in the world. One Cast Away, a professional guide service based in Leesburg, helps anglers fish for bass like the pros. On land, Leesburg is known for outdoor event spots such as Venetian Gardens, Towne Square, and the Mote-Morris House. The historic Victorian-style house, built in 1892, hosts weddings, family reunions, and parties on its shaded lawn, which includes a picturesque gazebo.
A SMALL CITY WITH LOTS TO DO
Clermont continues to work on its master plan, but there’s always something going on in this great waterfront city. STORY: LEIGH NEELY
lermont is a place that has lush rolling hills. Add the Clermont Chain of Lakes, and it’s no wonder athletes are attracted to it. People enjoy riding bicycles, running, hiking, and even preparing for the Olympics in the welcoming culture of Clermont. One of the most unusual places athletes are attracted to is the famous 10-mile clay loop. People around the world know of this
great place to run, says Tracy Jacim, director of communications for the city. Remote and quiet, it’s not very appealing to the typical Florida tourist, but the soft clay road is great for runners, and the quiet countryside makes it even better. There may be vehicular traffic but not much. The beauty of it for runners is the up-anddown effort of the hills, which is what some of the professional runners prefer, Tracy says. They think of it as a training trail. It’s at 8928-9290 N. Bradshaw Road. Waterfront Park, 100 3rd St., along the edge of Lake Minneola is the site of many of the city’s activities. Clermont is host to a variety of festivals, including the Champions Dragon Boat Festival, Leader of the Lake Regatta, and the famous Pig on the Pond Festival, an annual event that features
PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
carnival rides, fireworks, great food, and more. “At Waterfront Park, you can fish off the pier, use the swimming beach, and have fun in the splash park and the nearby playground,” Tracy says. There’s also a fitness trail that is part of a 30mile system that eventually will be part of a coast-tocoast trail crossing Florida. This year, the city hosted its second Great Campout, which was limited to 60 families, and sold out quickly. “For those who are novices to camping, it’s a great way to find out if you like it,” Tracy says. “They put up their tents and try camping in an environment where they’re safe and can enjoy activities together.” Tracy says the city is especially proud of the new
Disc Golf Championship Course at Lake Hiawatha Preserve, 450 N. 12th St. This fairly new sport has become very popular in Lake County, and Robert Chandler, executive director of Lake Economic Development and Tourism, feels there’s a great future here. Plans are underway to make this area a stop for national tournaments. The popular park also has two dog parks and is considered a “passive park,” which means it will remain a natural habitat for the study of Florida’s native plants and animals. If entertainment is your niche, you’ll find what you enjoy at the Clermont Performing Arts Center, 3700 S. U.S. Highway 27. This great venue features everything from Broadway
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shows to a cabaret series, comics, and great entertainers like Chubby Checker and Nashville Music on Tour. Box office hours are 1-5pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Take a step back in time with Clermont’s Historic Village at the corner of West Avenue and Osceola Street. The village came about through a cooperative effort of the South Lake County Historical Society and the city of Clermont. It includes the Townsend House, which was built around 1895 and was the home of James and Sallie Townsend, the first African-American couple to make their home in Clermont. The second house is the Kern House, originally owned by Alexander and Eleonora Kern, who were farmers in New Jersey. It’s unique because Alexander built a water tank in the backyard to hand-pump water from Crystal Lake that supplied
his entire home, which was built around 1885. There’s also a World War II Quonset Hut that houses the WWII museum, and the original Cooper Memorial Library Building, circa 1914, which was moved to the Historic Village in 2009. And if it’s old-fashioned Florida attractions you enjoy, don’t miss the Presidents Hall of Fame, where you can see some of the gowns worn by first ladies to inaugural balls and a replica of Mount Rushmore. It’s informational, educational, and most of all, entertaining. Built in 1956, the Florida Citrus Tower once overlooked an amazing array of orange groves as the highest observation point in Florida. Now you can view the changing landscape of South Lake County and still enjoy the view from the top after visiting the gift shop.
PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ
Clermont has a little bit of everything for the local visitor or Florida tourists. The city’s master plan, which continues to change the growing city’s landscape and shape its future, was approved in 2015. In 2017, Clermont was among the top 10 percent of U.S. cities in which to start a business, according to WalletHub, a personal finance website. In addition, the quaint shops and restaurants that line Main Street and the waterfront make this an ideal stop for a day of fun or a vacation away from the mainstream tourist destinations.
HISTORY COMES TO LIFE IN SUMTER COUNTY The past is all around us. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL
ade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell, brings history books to life with a variety of events and reenactments, including the World War II Commemorative Weekend set for 10am-5pm March 3-4. More than 1,000 visitors are expected to watch Allied and German forces reenactors engage in battle, hosted at 2pm both days. Authentic camps, equipment, military vehicles, weapons demonstrations, and food vendors are featured. The cost is $3 per person, and free for World War II veterans and youths ages 6 and younger. “People like the big events, like the World War II commemoration,” says Kristin Wood, parks service specialist, who notes the park’s historically accurate Dade’s Battle hosted every January depicts the beginning of the Second Seminole War in late December 1835, when 108 U.S. troops and officers marched from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to reinforce Fort King (Ocala). “We also do a variety of craft classes, and people love that because it’s hands-on and they get to learn new skills that they can’t find elsewhere,” Kristin says. Visit floridastateparks.org/ park-events/dade-battlefield to view the park’s activities or call 352.793.4781. Another striking historical landmark in Sumter County is the Baker House, 6106 County Road
44A, Wildwood, which was built around 1886 by Sen. David H. Baker. The two-story house with Victorian and Second Roman Empire architectural touches was occupied by six generations of the Baker family before it was donated to the city in September 2012. It is being restored by members of the Wildwood Area Historical Association.
Gidget Gibson, facilities coordinator, says the Baker House hosts a variety of activities for the community to enjoy, including a Heritage Festival set to take place March 24, along with murder mystery events and holiday tours, all of which bring about 2,000 visitors. “We are looking forward to doing more of those later in the year,” Gidget says of the popular murder mystery events. All proceeds from the fundraisers go toward exterior and interior restoration projects of the house. “It is hard to find another house like this anywhere else,” Gidget says, adding one future goal is to see the Baker House listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “We are working toward getting that done.” The house also is available as a rental location for afternoon teas, and bridal and baby showers. For more information or to schedule a private tour, call 352.461.1140.
RNER FOUR CO
VISIT VINTAGE FLORIDA Tour a working citrus farm, explore a Florida swamp, and see four counties. STORY: LEIGH NEELY
howcase of Citrus is a place where you can tour a 2,500-acre working citrus and cattle ranch on the world’s largest ATV. Open since 1961 on Highway 27 near Clermont, the Showcase of Citrus offers 100 percent “pure Florida fun” with the highly modified giant trucks designed for safe rides through native woodlands, pastureland, swamps, and groves. Things to do include picking Florida citrus fruits, feeding farm animals, doing a little fishing (as long as you catch
and release and bring your own pole), picnicking on the waterfront, shopping in the country store, and even wine tasting. During the tour, your guide will be giving you Florida history and entertaining facts about this great state. Tours are available 365 days a year, and the Showcase of Citrus is a licensed wildlife exhibitor. For information on tours and ticket prices, see showcaseofcitrus.com. The Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is a place where visitors can enjoy natural Florida. It’s a favorite of master birders and those who enjoy exploring the rich plants and trees native to Florida. You’ll find sandhills, flatwoods, oak hammocks, river swamp. and cypress ponds, which can be found only in Central Florida. Because it’s an intact ecosystem, wildlife is abundant, including mammals, amphibians,
reptiles, butterflies, and beautiful tropical birds. Green Swamp Preserve includes Colt Creek State Park (5,067 acres), East Tract (51,149 acres), Hampton Tract (11,052 acres), Little Withlacoochee Tract (4,446 acres), and West Tract (37,350 acres). Almost 36 miles of Withlacoochee River waters are protected as “Outstanding Florida
Water” in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Visitors can hike a huge network of roads or along the Florida National Scenic Trail that bisects the area. Please note that certain areas are off-limits during hunting season. See swfwmd.state.fl.us for information.
PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ
WHAT TO DO?
Fishing, riding horses, leisurely boat tours—Lake and Sumter counties have it all!
HORSEBACK RIDING BOAT TOURS Blue Moon Ranch 4605 County Road 134, Wildwood 352.578.4947 bluemoonranchfl.com Cypress House Ranch Bed and Breakfast 5175 County Road 631, Bushnell 352.568.0909 floridahorseranch.com DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue 10639 Toad Road, Clermont 407.702.8332 dreamcatcherhorses.com Lake Louisa Trail Rides 7305 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont 352.241.2046 lakelouisastatepark.com Rock Springs Run Trail Rides 31700 County Road 433, Sorrento 352.266.9326 rockspringsruntrailrides.com Southern Cross Stables 14910 Lost Lake Road, Clermont 407.758.7346 southerncrossstables.com
BOAT AND JET SKI RENTALS
Clermont Waterfront Park 330 3rd St., Clermont Premier Boat Tours 100 Alexander St., Mount Dora Get Wet WaterSports 352.394.3500 clermontfl.gov 352.434.8040 1000 W. Burleigh Blvd., Tavares doracanaltour.com 352.253.0585 World Wakeboard watersportsrentals.com Center Rusty Anchor 19022 Orange Ave., Groveland 400 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora Gator Bay Marina 352.429.3574 352.383.3933 10320 County Road 44, worldwakeboardcenter.com rustyanchormountdora.com Leesburg 352.365.2177 Jack Travers CraigCat Tours Waterski School 311 S. Tremain St., Mount Dora Palm Gardens 20225 State Road 33, 352.816.9339 Restaurant Groveland catboattours.com and Marina 352.429.9027 1661 Palm Garden St., Tavares jacktravers.com Justin’s Jungle 352.343.2024 Airboat Rides palmgardensmarina.com Lake Eustis 19400 SE Highway 42, Umatilla Sailing Club 352.636.4060 Mount Dora Boating 1310 County Road 452, Eustis justins-jungle.com Center and Marina 352.589.5417 148 Charles Ave., Mount Dora lescfl.com Captain Ernie’s St. 352.383.3150 Johns River Tours mtdoraboats.com Mount Dora (Departs at Blackwater Inn) Yacht Club 55716 Front St., Astor Cypress Cove Marina 351 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora 866.349.0674 10233 Cypress Cove Lane, 352.383.5414 stjohnsrivertours.com Clermont mountdorayachtclub.com 352.636.2643 Bartholomew’s cypresscovemarina.com Swiss Waterski Yesteryear Boat Resort Cruises Lake Harris Lodge 13114 Skiing Paradise Blvd., 12121 Canal St., Tavares 11924 Lane Park Road, Tavares Clermont 352.343.7047 352.343.4111 352.429.2178 lakeharrislodge.com swisswaterskiresort.com
HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDES
Florida Balloon Adventures 407.414.7451 floridaballoonadventures.com
Clermont Boathouse 1050 Victory Way, Clermont 352.227.6997 rowlcra.org
Venetian Gardens 201 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg 352.787.8018 leesburgflorida.gov
FISHING GUIDES One Cast Away 837 Lock Road, Leesburg 321.722.3134 onecastaway.com Largemouth Central 5405 Bettys Court, Tavares 518.578.9273 largemouthcentral.com Gdawgbass Fishing LLC 352.536.0855 firstname.lastname@example.org centralfloridabasscharters.com Revolution Off Road 400 State Road 33, Clermont 352.400.1322 revolutionoffroad.com
ALLIGATOR VIEWING GatorWorld Parks of Florida 492 W. Highway 44, Wildwood 352.462.9500 gatorworldparks.com
Clermont Balloon Rides 407.761.5964 clermontballoonrides.com
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Sarasota has many attractions but a worldrenowned art collection at the Ringling Museum of Art is among its most notable treasures. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
ention the Ringling Estates in Sarasota, and people automatically think of the circus. After all, John Ringling and his brothers operated “The Greatest Show on Earth,” and during the 1920s he became one of the wealthiest men on earth. Ringling began collecting art while traveling through Europe as he scouted for new circus acts. Today, his priceless collection of paintings and art objects—highlighted with works by Old World Masters including Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, and Velazquez—is housed in a 21-gallery museum
on the south corner of the Ringling Estates that was modeled after the famed Uffizi Gallery in Italy. Ringling and his wife, Mable, began spending winters in Sarasota in 1912 on their 20-acre waterfront property. The couple had such love for Italy that their home was built like a Venetian palazzo with Sarasota Bay as their Grand Canal. Even the name of their 36,000-square-foot mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, is the Venetian dialect for “House of John.” A stroll through Ringling Estates, with its beautiful gardens and Italianate-style buildings, can certainly remind visitors of Italy and the opulent lifestyles of the Roaring ’20s. However, if it’s circus history you want to see, visit the Ringling Circus Museum on the north side
of the estates behind the Visitors Pavilion. Ironically, Ringling’s generation believed it was ostentatious to bring attention to the source of wealth, so the circus museum was established in 1948, well after his 1936 death. Today, visitors can see performers’ wardrobes, props, parade wagons, the cannon that shot performers across the Big Top, and even the luxurious private railway car the Ringlings used. But the best display may be the 44,000-piece miniature circus inside the Circus Museum Tibbals Learning Center. Handcrafted by Sarasota philanthropist and lifelong circus lover Howard Tibbals, the detailed model stretches across 3,800 square feet and is a re-creation of the
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus combined shows from 1919-1938. Tibbals worked on the miniature circus for more than 60 years, beginning the carvings as a teenager. Lovers of art, architecture, exquisite gardens, and all things circus-related can easily find themselves running out of time trying to see everything the Ringling has to offer. Admission prices vary depending on what you want to see, but the best deal is the three-day pass. For $35 for adults, and $10 for children ages 6-17, the pass is valid for three consecutive days, giving you enough time to explore the entire estate. Check out ringling.org and visitsarasota.com for more information.
PHOTOS: TONY DESANTIS
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Gypsy Gold in Ocala is home to a rare but beautiful horse breed. STORY: JAMES COMBS
ith his sometimes mischievous ways, GG The Walker Horse is all man. He’s all mane, too. The 3-year-old horse’s long, wispy mane grows down a crease in his chest. He has a mustache that curls along his lip and hairy feet like a Clydesdale. Although his hair must occasionally be braided to keep it from covering his face, a trip to the
PHOTO: JAMES COMBS
barbershop is entirely out of the question. “We leave their mustaches and belly hair because gypsies consider both to mean good luck,” Dennis Thompson says. Dennis and his girlfriend, Erin Mahoney, own and operate Gypsy Gold, a 40-acre farm in Ocala that is home to a breed of horse many have never heard of—the Gypsy vanner. The breed was envisioned after World War II when European Gypsy trav-
elers began using selective breeding methods to create the perfect caravan horse to pull their covered wagons. The farm, which is rated as Ocala’s top attraction by Trip Advisor, attracts visitors from around the country who desire a personal encounter with
this breed that Dennis brought to the United States from Great Britain. Tourists soon realize that the Gypsy vanner’s playful personality is as much a trademark of the horse as its long-flowing mane and stout body. “They’re golden retrievers with hooves,”
PHOTOS: TONY DESANTIS
Dennis says. “They love people. I always say they don’t have a flee factor because they don’t get scared as easily as other horses and get over stressful events much faster.” Dennis, an Indiana native who spent 30 years designing animal products, was first introduced to the breed in 1995 when he and his late wife, Cindy, were on a business trip to Great Britain. As they drove through the countryside, Cindy spotted a blackand-white stallion named Cushti Bok grazing in a field. They stopped, and the horse enthusiastically greeted them. They were impressed with its stature—heavy bones and broad, compact body of a draft horse, but on a smaller scale. The Thompsons spent the remainder of the day at a Gypsy camp talking to the horse’s owner, who accepted their offer to purchase Cushti Bok. “The Gypsies had been breeding and trying to create this horse for 55 years but it went largely unnoticed because they tend to be private people,” Dennis says. “When we purchased Cushti Bok, we knew something magical was about to happen in our lives.” It wasn’t long before the couple imported 16 horses, established a breed registry, and opened Gypsy Gold in 1996. After
receiving approval from European Gypsies, they christened the breed as the Gypsy vanner horse. The old English Chambers dictionary defined vanner as “a horse suitable to pull a caravan.” In 1998, they introduced the breed to the American public at the Equitana USA event held in Louisville, Kentucky. Although Cindy died in a tragic accident in 2002, Dennis continues breeding the animal with descendants of the original 16 horses. Today, the farm is home to more than 40 Gypsy vanner horses with various colors and markings. “When we breed, we’re looking for a specific body type rather than a color scheme,” Dennis says. The story of how the Thompsons established the horse as a recognized breed is shared with visitors who tour the farm at 10am Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. After delivering an informative 45-minute speech, Dennis leads guests on a walk around the farm,
which has 19 paddocks and is dotted with ancient oak trees. Among the horses they meet are the all-black BB King, the farm’s first solid-colored horse, and King William, who impresses visitors with his majestic blackand-white coat. He also takes visitors to Fair Hill, the final resting place for the first horses that lived on the farm: Caymus, Cushti Bok, The Roadsweeper, The Gypsy King, Latcho Drom, and Shogun. Their names are etched in granite grave markers. Dennis shares some heartfelt memories. “Shogun used to come into my office and stand behind me. That horse really had a unique personality,” he says. The same can be said of all Gypsy vanners living on the farm today. Erin, Dennis’ girlfriend, has formed a loving relationship with GG The Walker Horse, whom she affectionately refers to as “Little Fred.”
“He’s like a big puppy, but he’s a 1,200-pound puppy so he’s not so cuddly,” Erin says. “The gentleness of this breed has ruined my love for all other horses.” First-time visitors to the farm are equally impressed. “These horses are gorgeous, breathtaking, and very majestic,” says Tony Porritt, a resident of Ontario, Canada. “Best of all, they have warm personalities like a dog.” Dennis has plans to make the farm bigger and better. “I want to turn it into a permanent education and cultural center,” he says. “At Fair Hill, for instance, I want to have benches where guests can sit and look at beautiful gravestone markers of our horses that have passed. They can use their cellphones to scan a QR code and see videos and read stories about each horse.” Gypsy Gold is located at 12501 SW 8th Ave. in Ocala. For more information, call 352.817.1777 or visit gypsygold.com.
THE LEGEND OF THE MERMAID Weeki Wachee’s underwater stars and other attractions have endured since 1947. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI
ong before Disney’s “Little Mermaid” film, before Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah starred in “Splash,” there was Weeki Wachee. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a historic roadside attraction in Spring Hill, has told the enchanting and mysterious tale of the mermaid for more than 70 years. In the park’s natural spring, beautiful “mermaids” perform underwater dances for the enjoyment of families, faraway visitors, curious onlookers, and red-blooded males. (The park strictly enforces a “catch and release” policy.) The site is internationally known, having been featured in Hollywood films and TV shows since the 1940s, and video screens show black-and-white footage of past mermaid performances for patrons at the underwater theater. Katie Wagner, in her fourth year as a mermaid, learned of the legacy while growing up in nearby Brooksville. “As a kid, we’d drive past and see the ‘Weeki Wachee Mermaids’ sign and you dream to be one of those girls,” says Katie, who is 23 with wholesome “mermaid next door” looks. “I’m happy I could fulfill that dream.”
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PHOTOS COURTESY WEEKI WACHEE SPRINGS STATE PARK SIGN PHOTO: MARY ANN DESANTIS
She adored the underwater dancers, dressing up as a mermaid for Halloween and practicing routines in her pool. “You see that everybody loves the mermaids and you want to be the person that everyone else idolizes,” Katie says. Now young girls idolize Katie and about 30 fellow performers who went through rigorous training to attain their dreams. Prospective mermaids must complete a 300-yard swim, a breath-holding test, and show they can smile and keep their eyes open underwater while not looking “frantic,” Katie says. They must become scubacertified and learn to use air hoses—the most difficult part of the job, she says—and then choreography. All that hard work goes into multiple daily shows 365 days a year. While the mermaids are the stars of Weeki Wachee, they have a supporting cast of attractions that include wildlife, a River Boat Cruise, an adventure park, kayaking, and camping. At the Wildlife Exhibit
& Theater, handler Eddie Hamilton displays creatures such as snakes, turtles and tortoises, and Newt, a baby alligator that kids love. Eddie dispenses fun facts, including dispelling the notion that running in a zigzag pattern is the best way to evade an alligator. It’s not—run for your life in a straight line as fast as you can, he says. Visitors also can see wildlife during the boat ride on Weeki Wachee River. Guide Mike Homan and navigator Larry Moore point out snapping turtles and yellow-bellied sliders, birds such as anhingas and egrets, the nests of eagles and great blue herons, and the occasional manatee, which is drawn to the spring because of its constant 74-degree temperature, Larry says. Alligator sightings are rare, which is probably a good thing since the river stems from Buccaneer Bay, the adventure park with three tall water slides heading into the lagoon, beach and picnic areas, and other activities for children and adults. But everybody winds up at the mermaid show. Tracey and Joe Lutz, on a winter vacation from Allentown, Pennsylvania, were sure to see Weeki Wachee. The couple wasn’t familiar with the history of the mermaids, but heard about them from a well-known musical travel guide. “We’re Parrotheads and years ago we heard of it through Jimmy Buffett and just always wanted to make it a stop,” Tracey says. Sure enough, a video of Jimmy singing “Fins,”
accompanied by Weeki Wachee mermaids, warms up the crowd at the Newton Perry Underwater Mermaid Theatre. The place is named for the man who had the theater built into the limestone around the spring, created the air hoses for underwater breathing, and trained the young women for his new roadside attraction in 1947, according to the park website. Visitors in the 400-seat theater enjoy a panoramic view of the 100-foot-wide basin of the spring, and mermaids swim about 16 to 20 feet below the water surface. Current shows include Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” and “Fish Tales.” The aquatic ballets reveal how athletic and acrobatic the mermaids are as they coordinate their moves with each other and play to the crowd while also having to time their use of the air hoses. It’s a remarkable feat considering they’re underwater in spring currents of 5 mph or more. The Weeki Wachee tradition is in good hands, and tails, with Katie and her fellow performers, and it’s not ending anytime soon. They’re inspiring a future generation. “It’s a trend now to want to be a mermaid. I see it in younger girls, older girls,” she says. The legend of the mermaid continues.
If you go Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill 9am-5:30pm 352.592.5656 weekiwachee.com
SUN ‘N FUN AIMS HIGH A tour of the clouds. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL
he south’s largest air show, the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-in and Expo, attracts more than 200,000 spectators, including many who make the trip from The Villages. This year’s 44th event will be April 10-15 at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, 3900 Don Emerson Drive, Lakeland. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds—a crowd favorite—will be among about 60 air acts. The U.S.
Navy Super Hornet Demo and Paradigm Aerobatic Team also will perform, according to Carol Cali, marketing director. A complete list of the performers’ schedule will be posted at flysnf.org. The fly-in is the largest fundraiser for the Aerospace Center for Excellence, and Carol notes the organization funds more than $2 million annually in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational programs and scholarships for youths. “The Aerospace Center for Excellence has much to offer to folks of all ages,” Carol says. “Whether you
join in the spectacle of the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo, a day wandering around our wonderful museum enjoying the interactive displays, or any of the myriad activities we host year-round, knowing you’re supporting the future of flight for tomorrow’s youth can be personally gratifying.” She says by visiting Aerospace Discovery at Lakeland’s Florida Air Museum, billed as Florida’s “official aviation museum and education center,” people can see a display
of warbirds, one-of-a-kind designs, classics, ultralights, and antiques. “The museum is more than a collection of airplanes; it is a tribute to the history and joy of flight highlighting pioneers such as Howard Hughes, early air racers, and countless Floridians who have influenced the world of aviation,” Carol says. Summer camps, group tours, workshops, and speaker presentations also are featured at the museum. For details, visit flysnf.org.
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ER CRYSTAL RIV
PLANTATION ON CRYSTAL RIVER
Tucked away behind the mangroves of the Crystal River is one of Florida’s most charming resorts, a place where families return for generations once they discover it. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
PHOTOS COURTESY THE PLANTATION AT CRYSTAL RIVER
he Plantation on Crystal River combines Southern elegance with eco-friendly service in one of Florida’s most natural environments. You won’t find high-rise condos here, but you will find the natural springs of Kings Bay and more than 25,000 surface acres of pristine lakes and rivers. If you prefer to keep your head dry, The Plantation also offers 27 holes of golf, a full-service spa,
and many other familyfriendly activities. “We offer a whole different Florida experience,” General Manager Michael Mancke says. “Did you ever wonder what Tampa may have looked like 100 years ago? Well, that’s Crystal River. We are the original Florida.” Indeed, “Old Florida” traditions still exist at the 232-acre resort along with new activities and many updated features since the hotel’s original construction in 1962. The Plantation on Crystal River is well known for its Snorkel with the Manatees tour packages. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Kings Bay is the only place in the United States where swimmers actually can get in the water to practice “passive observation” with manatees. The Plantation’s Adventure Center provides pre-tour education programs yearround, so snorkelers will
have the most fulfilling experiences when viewing manatees up close. The Plantation also offers special packages during Florida’s scalloping season, which usually runs from July through late September (dates vary). In the meantime, though, guests find plenty of other water activities, including kayaking and canoeing, boating, fishing, and scuba certification classes. Golfing has become even more enjoyable at The Plantation with a recently updated clubhouse and newly paved golf cart paths. The tree-lined Florida-style courses offer a variety of water and bunker obstacles, which keep golfers challenged enough to return year after year. The resort also has become a popular place for family reunions. All ages will find something to do, whether it’s golf, tennis, pickleball, water sports, spa treatments, or kid-friendly
activities like hula-hoop contests and cornhole games. Or you can just soak up the sun by the pool and tiki bar. At the end of the day, enjoy a familystyle picnic on the lawn or a relaxing dinner at the onsite West 82° Grill, which now offers patio dining. Visit plantationoncrystalriver.com
A SMALL TOWN OF MEDIUMS Cassadaga is home to a spiritualist camp, many mediums, and a host of contented residents. STORY: LEIGH NEELY
assadaga is a place where you can stand at the corner of Mediumship Way and Spiritualist Street, and you eventually find yourself at Séance Court and Metaphysical Street. The town is just off Interstate 4 near Lake Helen. About an hour from Lake County, it
is often called “the Psychic Capital of the World.” When you drive down Cassadaga Road, you’ll pass a large sign that reads, “Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp.” You could say this is the origin of the town that was founded in 1875. George P. Colby was led to the area by his spirit guide, Senaca,
who told George there was a “congress of spirits” who chose his land as the place for a spiritual center. On Dec. 18, 1894, the charter to form the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association (SCSCMA) was granted. Today, the town and its camp occupy 57 acres and is on the list of national historic places. Anyone may rent there, but to purchase a home, you must be a spiritualist. Ray Carroll is president of the SCSCMA. “I came here a couple of years ago when my wife passed,”
Ray says. “When I came, I felt peaceful. I came back and met someone, and now I live here.” A former federal law enforcement officer, Ray felt his life was over after the death of his wife. He found himself “running away” from his home in Pennsylvania often. But the peace and acceptance he found in Cassadaga gave him a new hope and a new life. He eventually met his current wife, Lilian, whose license plate read, “Runaway,” and now they’re both settled. If you have an interest in spiritualism—a religion,
CASSADAGA PHOTOS: THERESA CAMPBELL
science, and philosophy of belief in continuous life and communication with those in the spirit world through mediums—you will enjoy a visit to this small, energetic town. All the official mediums of Cassadaga are certified by the SCSCMA. They must go through a lengthy educational process, and they are evaluated on their readings for three years after receiving certification. Only certified mediums can work in Cassadaga. Since the Cassadaga Hotel has private ownership, the psychics and mediums on their premises are independent. Dawn Medley is the activity director for the town and camp. “We all have interesting stories about how we got here,” Dawn says. “I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘I came to visit and stayed.’” She recommends Sunday as the best day to visit if you want to get an overall picture of what the town and its residents are about. The day begins at 9:30am with Adult Lyceum, a spiritualism class in the
meeting hall of the Andrew Jackson Davis Building. At 10:15am, everyone moves to Colby Memorial Temple for a service that begins with spiritual healing in the back of the church while the congregation participates in a guided meditation. A message follows from one of the town’s mediums or healers and, at the end of the message, the speaker may call out three or four people in the audience with a message from spirits. Following the service, everyone returns to the meeting hall in the Davis Building for a communal lunch. At 12:30pm, the Sunday Grove Service meets with students and mediums demonstrating the continuity of life in a public setting. The mediums and healers are available every day. A room is set up in the Davis Building with a notebook containing their biographies so visitors can choose the medium they want for their reading. There is a dry-erase board on the wall to let you know which mediums are open for appointments that day.
If you’re coming from a long distance, you may want to schedule your meeting ahead of time to be sure someone is available for your reading. “October is our busiest month,” Dawn says. “People become very interested in death then.” Other popular stops in Cassadaga include the town’s busy bookstore. In addition to a variety of books from spiritualists, astrologers, mediums, and psychics, the store sells crystals, all kinds of jewelry, clothing, purses, and even wands. It’s a great place to shop. You also will find a great meal at Sinatra’s Italian Restaurant in the Hotel Cassadaga or you can get a snack at the small grocery store in town. Otherwise, you may want to go a mile or so to Lake Helen for a meal. In addition to the camp and services, the town also offers historical tours, the Nighttime Encounter Spirits Tour, official Cassadaga Camp Walking Tours, and special group tours. For information on the customized bus tours or any questions, visit cassadaga.org or call 386.228.3171.
DAY TRI P
PHOTOS: TONY DESANTIS
DAY TON A BEAC H
DON’T RACE THROUGH DAYTONA
After the NASCAR and Daytona Bike Week dust settles, the Daytona Beach area offers an array of family-friendly activities. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
o understand why Daytona Beach became such a magnet for auto racing, just climb the 203 steps to the top of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. The breathtaking views show a stretch of beach that early stock car drivers zoomed along from 1927 to 1958, setting 15 world land speed records. It’s hard to escape the city’s racing legacy, even when visiting Florida’s tallest lighthouse. Most people know of Daytona’s major events—NASCAR races, Bike Week, and Country 500—but there’s a lot more that doesn’t involve crowds and highenergy happenings. “There are many other days besides those events
that can be filled with family-friendly attractions and other things,” says Kate Holcomb, director of communications for the Daytona Beach Visitors Bureau. “We have so much to do and lots of new places to enjoy.” Kate is especially enthusiastic about One Daytona, a mega-shopping and entertainment district that opened in December. Located on the north side of West International Speedway Boulevard, the complex features major retailers, boutiques, restaurants, live entertainment and even a lawn where kids can play cornhole and life-size chess. Another relatively new venue is the Daytona
Arcade Museum, where for $19.95 visitors can play vintage pinball machines and video games all day— no quarters needed. Located downtown on North Beach Street, the Arcade Museum is a family-friendly
time-machine trip to the 1980s, powered by Pac-Man games and music videos. The crème de la crème is an Atari Star Wars sit-down cockpit game made in 1983. As one of the nation’s most historic beach towns, Daytona Beach has no
RENDERING COURTESY DAYTONA BEACH CVB
the area’s heritage from when it was known as Mosquito Coast. Within walking distance of the lighthouse is the Marine Science Center, where families can explore the area’s diverse ecosystems, touch
record players for in-room jam sessions. Non-race-day tours of the International Speedway are quite popular—especially since a $400 million renovation was completed a few years ago. See the speedway up close on the 30-minute shuttle tour ($18, adults; $12, ages 6-12) or go behind the scenes on a 90-minute all-access tour ($25, adults; $19, ages 6-12). Experiencing all Daytona Beach has to offer in a long weekend is a race to the finish, but the good news is that it can be just a trial run until your next visit. For more information, visit daytonabeach.com
PHOTO: TONY DESANTIS
PHOTO: TONY DESANTIS
shortage of history and nature activities. The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a good place to start with its manicured grounds showing how early lighthouse keepers lived. The complex features several buildings that trace
stingrays, and learn about Volusia County’s bird rehabilitation program. Tourists often fail to discover the city’s worldclass museums located across the Halifax River on Nova Road. The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum showcases paintings spanning nearly 200 years of Florida history while the Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS) houses several collections as well as a prehistoric gallery. Of course, strolling along the famous Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier is a requirement for first-timers. The historic band shell is the site for seasonal weekend concerts and special events while the Joyland Amusement Center is the place for family go-kart races and several new rides. One of the newest beachfront properties is the Hard Rock Hotel, opening in March, where guests can get complimentary use of Fender guitars and Crosley
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Prostate Problems? As men mature, the prostate grows from a walnut-sized gland to sometimes as large as an orange. This growth causes outﬂow problems from the bladder in the passing of urine, resulting in symptoms from a slow stream, getting up at night to urinate, or even worse—the constant urge to urinate, even to the point that urination begins before they reach the bathroom. These inconvenient, and often embarrassing symptoms, can be resolved by proper treatment of the enlarged prostate. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
Dr. James Young is a very successful urologist who has been practicing in Lake County since 1982. “The treatment of BPH (an enlarged prostate) has always been my focus, and that is the primary reason I moved to Florida when I finished my medical training as Chief Resident of Urology at the University of Arkansas. I looked at Florida as being the largest ‘prostate ranch’ in the United States, so I began my practice from scratch in Eustis in 1982.” For many decades, the only treatment for BPH was a surgical procedure, the TURP, more commonly referred to by men as a “roto-rooter.” Dr. Young performed more 3,000 of these procedures, however they were very invasive, required anesthesia, hospitalization, and could have serious complications, including massive bleeding and at times, death. Then medications were approved that relieved symptoms but after a period of time, the medications lose their effectiveness or caused side effects, usually sexual in nature. There had to be a better way. In the late 1990’s a new procedure, transurethral
needle ablation of the prostate (TUNA) was approved by the FDA. “I was never a fan of jumping on new technology quickly because, as we know, not everything delivers the results as promised,” says Dr. Young. However, after the procedure was used for five years, Dr. Young began doing TUNAs, later known as Prostiva RF therapy. This procedure was done in the office under local anesthesia with few complications. The procedure worked by inserting wires into the prostate, then low frequency radio waves were transmitted through the wires and heated prostate tissue to 115 degrees Celsius. This heat was transmitted in a conductive manner (radiate from the wires) but the heat dissipated rapidly as it traveled away from the wires. The heat was reduced by the formula of 1/r2 with r being the distance from the wires. Basically, cores of prostate tissue surrounding the wires were destroyed. Dr. Young had tremendous success with Prostiva RF therapy and ultimately did almost 3,000 procedures. His success with Prostiva gave him the distinction of being placed on
Castle Connelly’s Top Docs list for five consecutive years. However, more than five years ago, Dr. Young heard rumors of a new technology that was similar in some ways, but completely different in others. This new therapy was FDA approved in 2015 and was known as Rezum. “Even though I have a reputation for not jumping on new technology, I completely understood the science behind Rezum, so as soon as it was available to me, I switched to this procedure immediately. The science driving this technology is fascinating. Using low frequency radio waves, water is transformed into steam and then nine seconds of steam is infiltrated into the prostate tissue, once again in the office under local anesthesia. The major difference is the heat is transferred in a convective, as opposed to conductive manner. As Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed.” So once the steam is infiltrated into the prostate, and returns to liquid, it releases all the energy that changed the water into steam. This is a tremendous amount of energy and destroys much
more prostate tissue than the conductive heat did conveyed by Prostiva. There is much less discomfort with Rezum and when patients leave the office (usually in under 30 minutes), they experience no pain what so ever. Since June 2016, Dr. Young has performed just under 300 Rezum procedures, almost twice as many as any other urologist in the United States and many, many more than any other urologists in the state of Florida. “The results have been so amazing and the patients have been so happy that Healthgrades.com notified me that based on my recent reviews and clicks on my site, I am now ranked in the top 100th percentile of all urologists in the United States. While I am very proud of that, it is also very humbling. I personally think this is biggest leap forward in the treatment of BPH that I will see in my lifetime.” ________________________________
JAMES W. YOUNG III, M.D.
Board-certified Urologist Practicing in Lake County since 1982 with extensive experience in evaluation and management of prostate problems.
COMPREHENSIVE CARE If you are a first-time patient of Dr. Young, you will receive a detailed examination. “When I see a new patient I perform physical examinations and properly evaluate the patient’s symptoms, thus diagnosing the underlying problem(s),” Dr. Young said. “Next, I describe to the patient what’s normal and then explain what is abnormal with him. Lastly, I teach him his treatment options. If I’ve done a good job of teaching, he will select the correct option for himself.” While prescribing medications for enlarged prostate can be done by primary care physicians, only urologists are trained to thoroughly evaluate the bladder and prostate (including ruling out prostate cancer), as well as providing extremely effective minimally invasive, office-based therapies as alternatives to lifelong medical therapy. With an office staff with nearly as much experience as
the doctor (many have worked with Dr. Young for 25 years), you don’t spend a great deal of time waiting to see him. “We pride ourselves in being timely in seeing our patients. We respect our patients’ time as much as we do our own. Patients appreciate this; many of our patients tell me I have the best office staff on the planet. I consider that a huge compliment.” So if you are waking up at night and have difficulty falling back asleep because you’re worried what may be wrong, then it is time to check in with Dr. Young and have him examine you. “Many men accept frequent bladder urges as part of aging. And while it is part of the aging process, it’s not like death and taxes. There is something you can do about it.”
James W. Young III, M.D. Nationally recognized board-certified urologist
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING Annually over 50 years of age (At age 40 if family history or African American)
Introducing Rezum Therapy for enlarged prostate.
Prostate Evaluation Center Available for second opinions for BPH and Prostate Cancer
For more informaiton and to see actual patient testimonials, please visit:
ProstateEvaluation.com 808 HIGHWAY 466, LADY LAKE, FL 32159 P: 352.751.0040
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THE TO-DO LIST //
IN CONCE RT //
LOCAL TALENT //
OUT + ABOUT //
SEE STORY on PG 72
On the Scene
Local artist brings glitter to photography.
* TOHnE TTOh- DeO SL cI S eT n e
March MARCH 1
Chronicles of Yarnia Fiber Arts Club If you have scraps or balls of yarn you no longer need, donate them to the knitting/crochet club, a group that makes newborn/preemie hats and lap blankets for local hospitals. Meet every Thursday, 4-6pm at the Cagan Crossings Library, 16729 Cagan Oaks, Clermont. Please drop off yarn when library is open and ask for Claudia Piper. Library hours: 10am-7:30pm Monday-Thursday and 10am-2pm Friday-Saturday. Call 352.243.1840. MARCH 2
Concert dancing BODYTRAFFIC comes back to The Sharon with a new repertoire of concert dances. This young company is internationally recognized for its outstanding performances.
World War II weekend This weekend includes a battle between allied and German forces both days at 2pm. You’ll see authentic camps, equipment, military vehicles, weapons demonstrations, and reenactors. $3 per person; children ages 6 and younger admitted free. For info, visit dadebattlefield.com.
Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $15-$40 at thesharon.com. MARCH 2
Better than a drive-in The Clermont Fire Department presents this month’s family-friendly movie for everyone in the community. See “Zootopia” under the stars and maybe learn a little about fire prevention while you’re there. 8-10pm at Waterfront Park. MARCH 2
A woman and her guitar She has been singing since the ’50s, but Wanda Jackson isn’t looking to slow down anytime soon. See her at 7:30pm at the Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Call 352.821.1201 for info.
A garden party Hear Ricky Nelson’s greatest hits performed by Nelsons Remembered, his twin sons, Matthew and Gunner, along with footage of the Nelson family. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm the Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Call 352.243.1840. MARCH 3
Free flying Meet some new aviation friends at Free Flight Airport, 1511 Taylor Ave., Coleman. Admission is free and activities begin at 10am. Call 352.748.6629 for info. MARCH 4
Diamond in the rough Diamond Rio has a new album and you can hear the hits from it along with the band’s old favorites at Orange Blossom Opry,
company gained fame by making it to the finals on “America’s Got Talent.” Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $25-$55 at thesharon.com.
A voice of the Monkees Micky Dolenz was a favorite on the iconic show “The Monkees,” which garnered two Emmy Awards. Show times: 5pm and 8pm. Tickets: $30-$75 at thesharon.com.
16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm. MARCH 6
Cuba comes to America National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba brings Cuban and Latin American music to the classical music world. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $30-$65 at thesharon.com. MARCH 9
Crazy The Willie Nelson Tribute performs at the Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Show at 7:30pm. MARCH 10
Bluegrass and gospel The Isaacs, a country and bluegrass gospel group, features Lily and her daughters Becky and Sonya, son Ben, and songwriter John Bowman. See them at the Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm.
and food concessions. 10am-2pm. For info, dadebattlefield.com. MARCH 10-11
Art under the sun The 41st annual Leesburg Fine Arts Festival is held along the historic streets of downtown with more than 100 fine artists. For more information, call 352.365.0232. MARCH 11
Family harmony The famous Gatlin Brothers are at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm. Don’t miss it!
God bless the USA Lee Greenwood performs this great classic and many others at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm. MARCH 18
Check in but never leave Hotel California, a salute to The Eagles, is at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows 7:30pm both nights.
Doo-wop, doo-wop One of the longest-lasting R&B groups in America, The Drifters formed in 1953. Their songs are still treasures. See them at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm.
Japanese drum art Tao: Drumheart is the beauty and high energy of the ancient Japanese drum art. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $30-$76 at thesharon.com.
Dog day afternoon For $3 per vehicle, you can see demonstrations by trained canines, a dog talent show, and enjoy vendors
Grand piano Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra with piano soloist Sten Heinoja presents “Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2” along with heartfelt love songs and a few Irish melodies for St. Patrick’s Day. Tickets: $15-$42 ($3 more at door). March 15 at Epiphany Celebration Anglican Church, 1724 S. Bay St., Eustis; March 16 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 13600 Caspian Lane, Clermont.
Shadow dancing Catapult presents a fantasy of dance, story-telling, and sculpture. The dance
Yes, you can eat that! Edible plants and game program along with cooking demonstrations. Bring your own place setting and a cup for hot beverages to sample the wild fare. $3 per vehicle. $5 activity fee for ages 13 and up. 5:30-7:30pm. For info, dadebattlefield.com.
Farmer’s Markets Saturdays The Saturday Morning Market on Leesburg Towne Square, 8am-1pm Brownwood Farmer’s Market 2726 Brownwood Blvd. Wildwood, 9am-1pm Tuesdays Lady Lake Farmers Market Lady Lake Log Cabin 106 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 9am-1pm
Ongoing Events Every Saturday in cold weather months Historic weapons Dade Battlefield Historic State Park presents a Ranger History program that includes the firing of historical weapons. $3 park entrance fee for up to eight people in a vehicle. Bicyclists and pedestrians, $2. Starts at 10:30am. For info, dadebattlefield.com. 1st Friday Street Party Every month in downtown Eustis with e’s Ther o do! t e r o m .70 d on p ue Contin
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entertainment, live music, and activities for all ages. 6-10pm.
2nd Friday Art Splash Features artists and performers on the sidewalks of downtown Mount Dora., 6-8pm 2nd Friday Acoustic music Hear live local musicians free from 7-9pm at Leesburg Center for the Arts, 429 W. Magnolia St.
Circus art Award-winning content from Cirque Èloize ranks among the world’s leading contemporary circuses. Show time: 7:30pm. Tickets: $20-$65 at thesharon.com. MARCH 22
1st Saturday Wine Tasting Stroll Starts at Maggie’s Attic on Alexander St. and 4th Ave., 6-8pm
A musical beauty Judy Collins’ songs still resonate with her audience after five decades. Now, a new generation is discovering the distinctive style that is Judy’s alone. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $20-$75 at thesharon.com.
2nd Saturday Food Truck’N Flick Entertainment Leesburg Town Square
This diamond ring The ring is still shining for Gary Lewis, who will be performing at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Show: 7:30pm.
3rd Wednesday PAWS Reading Dogs, W.T. Bland Library, Mount Dora 3rd Thursday Mount Dora Food Trucks, Downtown Mount Dora 4th Saturday Classic Car Cruise-In, Downtown Eustis
Time for gardening Don’t miss the seventh annual Landscape and Garden Fair at The Discovery Gardens in Lake County Extension Center, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares. 9am-4pm Saturday and 10am-3pm Sunday.
Clay Walker knows just how to make his audience happy, using his talent along with a dedicated work ethic to be one of the most successful country singers around. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $31$106 at thesharon.com.
2nd Friday Movie in the Park Free family movie starts at dusk Donnelly Park Downtown Mount Dora
Wine and seafood Lakeridge Winery presents its 10th annual Wine & Seafood Festival
Grooving to the classics Once again, Maestro Pasquale Valero brings a special concert from The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra to nourish souls with beautiful music. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $20-$60 at thesharon.com. from 10am-5pm Friday and Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday. Tickets: $10; children ages 12 and younger admitted free. 19239 U.S. Highway 28 N., Clermont. MARCH 23-APRIL 22
Tony Award-winning play “Red” features the story of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, who asked the provocative question, “What do you see?” to his young assistant. This biographical play presents the struggle the artist feels when he gets the biggest commission in the history of modern art. Show time: 7pm. Tickets: $35 at thesharon.com. MARCH 24
Brown eyes are blue Crystal Gayle came along in the 1970s and made her mark. Hear her sing her favorites at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Shows at 2:30 and 7:30pm.
To have an event considered for the calendar, send a short text description along with a color photo (if available) 45 days in advance of event to: email@example.com or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749
MARCH 31-APRIL 1
Arts in the square Enjoy the Brownwood Paddock Square Art & Craft Festival in Wildwood. 10am-5pm both days at 2705 W. Torch Lake Drive. Free Admission. MARCH 31
Singing his heart out The Crest with Tommy Mara presents a show you’ll never forget at Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. Great music, great fun. Call 352.821.1201 for info. Show at 7:30pm. MARCH 31
Egg hunt This is a free event for ages infant to 12 years old and their families. The egg hunt starts promptly at 10am and ends at noon. For more information, dadebattlefield.com.
On The Scene IN CONCERT
2:30pm & 7:30pm
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba
The Sharon, The Villages
Blackwater Inn, Astor
Willie Nelson Tribute
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
Tommy and the Guns
Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg
Yalaha Bootlegging Company, Yalaha
Gator Bay Bar and Grill, Leesburg
Blackwater Inn, Astor
East Side Rock
Puddle Jumpers, Tavares
Tommy and the Guns
Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg
2:30pm & 7:30pm
The Gatlin Brothers
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
The Guess Who
Savannah Center, The Villages
Katie Belle’s, The Villages
Marcille Wallis and Friends
Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages
3/14 3/14 3/16
7pm 7pm 5pm
Bumper Jacksons Firefall Marcille Wallis and Friends
Savannah Center, The Villages Mount Dora Community Center, Mount Dora Spanish Springs Town Square, The Villages
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
2:30pm & 7:30pm
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
2:30pm & 7:30pm
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
Blackwater Inn, Astor
Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
East Side Rock
The Oasis, Sorrento
Blackwater Inn, Astor
East Side Rock
The Oasis, Sorrento
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
4 One Quartet
Recreation Plantation RV Park, Lady Lake
Mark Steven Schmidt
American Legion Hall, Lady Lake
Villages Philharmonic Orchestra
The Sharon, The Villages
Jeff and April Davis
Bee’s RV Resort, Clermont
Blue Stone Circle
Ruby Street Grille, Tavares
The Oasis, Sorrento
Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg
Frank’s Place, Leesburg
The Oasis, Sorrento
Shamrock Lounge, Leesburg
Bands subject to change. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit an event. Submissions must be received by the ninth of the month prior to month of the event (example: Oct. 9 for Nov. issue).
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Everything’s better with glitter Photographer adds a little bling to her pictures and makes them glow!
arol Black is a crafter who enjoys making things with her hands. Before retiring, she was secretary for the school district near her home in Turnersville, New Jersey, and finished her career as secretary at a high school. She is now a snowbird five to six months a year in this area. Since her husband really enjoys golf, a game she’s never taken to, she began looking for a hobby to suit her interests. While strolling through a gallery one day, she decided she would like a picture much better if it had a little brightness to it—and maybe a little bling.
“I just started taking photos with my phone, and then I’d put glitter on different elements of the picture,” Carol says. “I tried all kinds of glitter, but it wasn’t until I began using glass glitter that I discovered what worked best for my photos.” Glass glitter generally comes from Germany and is made from finely ground glass. “I just use a glue pen and put the glue wherever I want it and the glitter stays in place,” she says. Unfortunately, glass glitter can be painful to work with. “I have proof of that all over my hands,” Carol says. Carol’s photos are generally outdoor scenes. She especially loves taking photos in her New Jersey backyard when it snows. Putting the glitter on the snow makes it sparkle like snow in the moonlight. Her snow photos sell very well, and those photos are most often requested. Recently she took a trip to Nashville and stayed at the Gaylord Hotel. A photo of the waterfall inside the hotel was one of her favorites. She wasn’t sure it would work well with the glitter, but after it was applied, the glitter brought the photo to life, making the water appear to be moving. “I did research and experimented a lot before I got it down to the art form I love,” Carol says. “Now, with the glass glitter, I can do a lot of work in a short space of time.” Carol’s photographs, aptly named “Puttin’ on the Glitz,” are available exclusively at Under the Cherry Blossoms, 443 N. Donnelly St., in Mount Dora. They are matted and framed and ready to hang.
Photo illustration: Jason Fugate
STORY: LEIGH NEELY // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
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An eye on London
A wonderful place to visit, London is ﬁlled with royalty, history, and revelry. STORY: LEIGH NEELY // PHOTOS: RICHARD NEELY
ondon is a city filled with streets, buildings, and castles. Each has fascinating and rich history. I’ve been to London twice, but my visits may be a little different than yours; I have someone on the inside. My son and his family live in Weybridge, a community just outside London.
A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
RIDING THE RAILS
Most every day began with a train ride. Because riding the underground trains can be confusing, it’s recommended you get a prepaid travel card called an Oyster Card to make things easier. Fortunately, we had a personal guide who knew his way around town very well.
The Coca-Cola London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel, is essential. Be prepared to stand in long lines (and never break the British rule of moving ahead of someone); however, we purchased the fast-track tickets, making our wait much shorter. It’s actually a great deal because these tickets include viewing a 4-D movie that shows how the great structure was built. The Eye moves very slowly, which allows you to see and take photos of most of London’s great landmarks. You can download the free Coca-Cola London Eye app and learn the history and facts about the skyline you’re
* OOUnT +TA BhOeU TS c e n e
enjoying. Once you’ve left the ride, the app is useful for finding the landmarks around town.
Walking past the shops and restaurants along the Thames River was an adventure, too. We saw some of the queen’s swans during our stroll. The British Crown owns all the unmarked mute swans in open water. Interesting side note: this was decreed to keep commoners from killing them and depriving the royals of one of their favorite banquet dishes.
tours presented by Castle Precincts held at regular intervals every day departing from the courtyard. The tour ends at the State Apartments on Henry VIII’s North Terrace. The views from there are extraordinary. The weaponry and suits of armor are displayed as beautifully as the furniture and portraits in the apartments. To see so much of battle accoutrements used through the centuries is stunning. You must see St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, especially if you’re going anytime soon. This is where Prince Henry and Meghan Markle will marry on May 19. Considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England, the chapel dates to the 14th century and King Edward III. The magnificent stainedglass window was installed in the late 15th century and is just as beautiful today. It’s also the resting place for Edward IV, Henry VI, Henry VIII, and Jane Seymour, among other royals. We enjoyed lunch in the shadow of the castle at The Horse and Groom Pub. The fish and chips were excellent. The restroom doors had pictures of the queen on the ladies’ room and a beefeater on the gentlemen’s room.
The beauty of this royal residence is difficult to describe. There are free 30-minute tours presented by Castle Precincts held at regular intervals every day departing from the courtyard.
A QUEEN’S HOME IS HER CASTLE
Windsor Castle is a must see and will take you almost all day to fully enjoy. The outside massive structure is just as beautiful as the inside. The largest inhabited castle in the world, it’s where Queen Elizabeth II prefers to spend weekends, and the queen’s standard (flag) was flying the day we toured, which means she was in residence. The beauty of this royal residence is difficult to describe. There are free 30-minute
TOWERING OVER LONDON
When you walk through the majestic entrance to the Tower of London, you’ll immediately notice the bright red uniforms of the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters as they’re more widely known. To be a Yeoman Warder, a man or woman must be 40 to 55 years old, have at least 22 years of military service, the rank of warrant officer, and have received the long service and good conduct medal. As they begin
their service, these royal bodyguards take the oath of royal allegiance going back to 1337. The Beefeaters lead tours of the tower and provide information and facts you may not hear otherwise. These tours are part of the admission price, and the gentleman who led our tour was very funny and informative. Something else that will catch you by surprise is the size of the tower ravens. The large black birds are very visible. One sat for several minutes on a bench near us, staring at us with an air of intelligence in its black eyes. Legend says the kingdom will fall if the six ravens that live there ever leave. Therefore, each raven has a painless clipping of one wing. Some have still managed to escape. The black birds are housed next to Wakefield Tower and today there are seven, so there’s a spare just in case. They respond to no one but the Ravenmaster, and visitors must keep their distance.
Though it sounds a bit frightening, it’s very ceremonial. The House of Commons doors are open as the Black Rod gets close, but they are slammed shut in his face. This is done to symbolize parliament’s independence from the monarch. He then hits the door three times with the ceremonial staff or black rod and is admitted to announce the command of the queen for attendance of the Commons. The wooden door to the House of Commons has been banged so many times, there is an obvious round dent in the door. The real value of this tour is seeing the many places “behind the scenes” of parliament. We saw the room where the queen dresses and prepares for speeches, as well as the royal toilet. Our tour finished with high tea in a room full of windows overlooking the Thames. Quite proper and most enjoyable.
BITS AND PIECES
There are so many wonderful places to see and explore in London, it’s impossible to even write about all we saw. Other must-see places include Trafalgar Square and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and all the wonderful national museums are free. Don’t miss Westminster Abbey, the site of numerous royal weddings and funerals. St. Paul’s Cathedral, begun in 1148, is another beautiful structure. There is an admission charge at both churches, but what you will see and learn is priceless. This won’t be our last visit to London, of course, and I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll have next time.
The guided tour of Parliament is educational and entertaining. If you’ve ever watched a session of Parliament on BBC TV, you know it’s a place where the U.K.’s governing body speaks its mind. The Parliament of the United Kingdom has the House of Lords (upper house) and the House of Commons (lower house). The third component is the Queenin-Parliament. The State Opening of Parliament is much more entertaining than the U.S. Congress. It begins when the Lord Great Chamberlain raises his wand of office and signals the Black Rod to summon the House of Commons. The Black Rod is escorted by the Door-keeper of the House of Lords and an inspector of police.
* SOOnC I ATLhSeP OST LcI eG HnTe
Swine and dandy Pig on the Pond will leave scholarship recipients feeling like theyâ€™re in hog heaven. STORY: JAMES COMBS
hrilling carnival rides, delicious barbecue, and entertaining pig races will all be part of the 20th annual Pig on the Pond, which will take place March 9-11 at Waterfront Park in Clermont. But visitors who attend the popular event have the added satisfaction of knowing they are
helping to provide scholarships for local high school students. A scholarship can change the course of studentsâ€™ lives, allowing them to study in other cities or countries and leading them in exciting new directions. Breyonna Bell is living proof.
The 2013 Lake Minneola High School graduate received $10,000 from Pig on the Pond, Clermont’s longest-running and largest festival that has raised well over $1 million in scholarship money for South Lake County high school students. For Breyonna, that money was a blessing. She earned an associate degree from Valencia Community College before transferring to the University of Central Florida. In May, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and will pay only $5,000 in student loans. For comparison, the average college senior in Florida who graduates with a bachelor’s degree accumulates $23,456 in loan debt, according to a 2015 study conducted by the Institute for College Access and Success. Without the scholarship money, obtaining a degree would have been financially difficult for Breyonna, who comes from a single-parent home. “I probably would’ve attended two years of college and then went straight to the workforce because I wouldn’t have had any money to continue my education,” she says. “Pig on the Pond was kind enough to invest in my future, and because of that I’ll be able to reach my full potential.” Breyonna is one of many success stories. “Where these students come from and where they end up after we help them is an amazing thing to see,” says Cheryl Fishel, who serves as the event manager. “One of our students graduated from
Florida State University and is now in New York City working for an accounting firm. The great thing is when these students come back to their neighborhoods and share with today’s kids how they ended up being successful.” This year’s festival promises to be a fun-filled event, and for the first time there will be a headline act. Country singer Collin Raye, who cranked out popular hits in the 1990s such as “That’s My Story” and “Little Rock,” will perform at 4pm Saturday. Attendees also will be treated to the highly entertaining sight of seeing pigs run and swim thanks to Lake City-based Chase’s Racing Pigs, which delight festivalgoers at fairs throughout Florida. There will be eight contests where four pigs race around an oval track and through a shallow pool of water to the finish line. The potbellied speedsters typically attract big crowds. “People love watching them because they’re so cute,” Cheryl says. “When they’re not racing, the owner dresses them up and walks them around in a stroller.”
Once the oinkers have finished racing, attendees can inhale the aroma and savor the tastes as food vendors pepper their ribs and smoke their barbecue to perfection. Some of the vendors regularly compete in barbecue competitions in Florida and will provide tips, tricks, and secrets to being an expert griller. Other highlights throughout the weekend include a chili cook-off on Friday night, a wakeboard competition on Saturday, and a kid’s zone where children can decorate cookies, have their faces painted, and play basketball. And, of course, there will be carnival rides of all types for all ages. “Pig on the Pond has so much going on that there’s something for everybody to enjoy,” Cheryl says. “Coming here and seeing what’s going on locally instills a deep sense of community pride.” And for a few lucky applicants, the event makes their dreams of winning a scholarship and pursuing higher education a reality. For more information about Pig on the Pond, call Cheryl at 407.625.3818 or visit pigonthepond.org.
The Pig on the Pond festival has raised well over
in scholarship money for South Lake County high school students.
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Step back in medieval times Peasants, gypsies, jousting knights, fire-eaters, musicians, and artisans were among more than 100 performers involved in the revelry of the annual Lady of the Lake Renaissance Faire, which has been a popular November attraction in Tavares since 2002. Hosted by the Educational Foundation of Lake County, all proceeds aid Lake County’s public schools’ teachers and students. PHOTOS: KRISTEN FLOYD
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Bikers show their sweaters Bikers got into the holiday spirit during Gator Harley-Davidson of Leesburg’s annual Christmas Fashion Show. Participants wore ugly sweater for the ugliest sweater contest. The event also featured the latest in motorcycle attire, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and toys for the Lake County United Motorcyclist Association (LCUMA) Toy Run. The Gator Harley crew has set its 2018 Christmas Fashion Show for Dec. 7. PHOTOS: SHAENA CHASTAIN
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Mistletoe Trot for the needy Leesburg Regional Medical Center and LRMC Wellness Center sponsored the 22nd annual Mistletoe Trot, a 5K and 10K race around LakeSumter State College and Silver Lake. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefitted the Community Medical Center in Leesburg, the not-for-profit medical center that provides medical and dental care for children and uninsured adults with incomes below the federal poverty level. PHOTO: SHAENA CHASTAIN
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March’s satisfied customers
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d a water pump replaced that was under warranty and the service was very fast and we were kept well informed. • Our service rep, Bra iley was very efficient and courteous. • Quick service on Volt. Had a water pump replaced that was under warranty and the service was v t and we were kept well • Our serviceLIKE rep, Brad BaileyTHAN was very cient and courteous. Quick service on Volt. Excellent jo WHERE THEinformed. ONLY THING YOU’LL BETTER OUReffi PRICE IS THE BUYING• EXPERIENCE ITSELF ff is very attentive. • Lenny was great to work with and was on top of my service. • We have experienced all facets of your dealership. d our old car serviced there and Brad Bailey was great and the reason we came to VG when we decided to buy a new vehicle. Our salesm ke Bradner was outstanding and explored every option to get us the price we wanted. Tony, in Finance was also great. All in all the best ca ying experience we have had in a long while. We would highly recommend VG to anybody. • Service dept got the truck in and out in reco e. Everyone is always very professonal and friendly. • Doug Tutin always delivers, my father deals with him and so do I. Our family will al e him for our vehicle needs. • Wayne was amazing and I will go back to him and Vann Gannaway Chevy for future vehicles. Have already sales to salesman service, Vann Gannaway gan recommending to friends. Best dealership ever. • Doug Tutin is by far the most courteous From and helpful I have met. His kindn Chevrolet has my business for many pressure tactics and great demeanor made for the most pleasant car buying/leasing experience. Great They assetaretoprofessional your company. reasons. (with aWill refer a l come back! • Rick and Tony made me feel very comfortable and confident about buying my new truck.feel), Theyqualifi bothed,went out of their hometown considerate of way WHAT I HAVE TO SAY mytime time, was and actually what sayand I am ke it a great experience! Thank you Rick and Tony! • Roc did an excellent job on my car. • The finally do right forthey a me ABOUT VANN GANNAWAY they do aWHEN sayas they’ll doThank it. ppy with my purchase and the experience. So much so that I brought my mother in today and we gotwillher new they Chevy well. you Unfortunately, that’s not often the case in the WENDY LYN PHILLIPS ug and Tony (finance) for making thisEUSITIS, a streamlined and pleasurable experience. • Rick was great with being patient the amount marketplace anymore. But on it doesn’t stop of ti FL eded to make a purchase. • Wow! What a difference after visiting other dealers in the area. Everyone was friendly and helpful with doing justvery what’s expected in their job:witho it withthey personal attention ing pushy to sell something. Thank you very much! • Great friendly service. They’ll get the job they donedowhen tell you. • and My really husband a striveat to Vann make the customerChevrolet feel important.” ded in our 2011 Silverado for a new 2015 Silverado. This is our 3rd purchase with Delores Herman Gannaway and as al s a great experience. I recommend this dealership for any car buying needs. • Awesome experience. Delores did an excellent job showin vehicles and helping us make a good decision. • Once again the tech at Vann Gannaway went out of their way to repair the shifter in my rvette. They got the parts overnighted and had me back in the car the next day. I was very pleased with the the sevice manager as well as hs. • I needed a new key FOB and didn’t have an appointment but Dwayne and Brad took care of me right away. Can’t say enough abou ality of service and the friendliness of sales at this dealership. I would highly recommend it. • Service was great! Brad in service took car and Melvin made sure I was taken care of. Yolanda in Accessories took care of getting my windshield tinted since my sunvisor was not lo ough. I love the great service I always receive at Vann Gannaway! I am so very glad I bought my car from them! God bless them all! • Thi
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Around the Table
More than 30 restaurants come together to bring you the taste of Mount Dora.
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A satisfying tradition
If you can’t wait till the 17th for Irish culinary traditions such as corned beef and cabbage, get an early jump on satisfying your appetite in The Villages. The community will stage two St. Patrick’s Day Festivals, March 14 at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square and March 16 at Spanish Springs Town Square, both scheduled from 4:45-9pm. Restaurants and food vendors lining the squares will serve all the holiday food favorites, and don’t forget the green beer.
T O T A L F O O D E X P E N D I T U R E A N D A T- H O M E S H A R E 1,800 1,600 1,400 At-home share is declining 1,200 $B
Away from home $800B
+94% since ‘03
At home $793B
+59% since ‘03
‘03 ‘04 ‘05 ‘06 ‘07 ‘08 ‘09 ‘10
Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Economic Research Service. © 2017 The Nielsen Company
Just drop them off! Publix supermarkets in Leesburg and Eustis now offer delivery service right to your door! All you do is browse all their products online, create a shopping list, and the items will be delivered to your home. For those who dread going to the grocery store after work, the fear is gone! Right now, this service is offered only in select areas, and it includes liquor deliveries. Go to publix.com, put in your zip code to see if service is available in your area, and start shopping. There is a charge for delivery, but how valuable is your time?
The daily special It seems everyone, including the president, enjoys more meals from restaurants than dining at home or they’re preparing home meals from a kit. According to a Nielsen Marketing study, more people are eating in restaurants than ever. This trend has increased in such a significant manner that it’s hitting grocery stores in the cash register in a bad way. Much of this is due to online shopping and meal kit availability. It simply means avoiding the hassle of shopping while having everything you need for the meal in one container. Statistics show Gen X buyers account for 51 percent of spending on meal kits, but indications are all generations are being more diverse in food and beverage buying options.
Label, label, label
If you’re smart, you shop with a list so you don’t give in to impulsive prompts on grocery shelves. However, even with a list, no two shoppers work the store aisles alike. Studies show that U.S. shoppers are focused more on product attributes than sales. Some are looking for keywords like antioxidants, and others are looking for what’s not inside. According to Nielsen’s Clean Label Report, many shoppers are saying it’s more important to leave out the bad stuff than include the good stuff. They don’t like artificial ingredients, hormones/antibiotics, and that vague list of ingredients that aren’t easy to pronounce.
Head to the market The Mount Dora Village Market is a popular Sunday attraction from 9am-2pm at Sunset Park, 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora. Local vendors will be on hand March 4, 11, and 18 showcasing fresh vegetables, cheese, eggs, seafood, breads, and crafts. To learn more, call Don Stuart at 352.406.6455 or email email@example.com.
Burger wars Burger King and McDonald’s, McDonald’s and Burger King—you rarely see one without the other. So it’s no surprise that the Home of the Whopper has a new address in Leesburg at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 27 and County Road 48—kitty corner from the Golden Arches. The new restaurant went up rapidly and staff was hired during construction in preparation for its opening. Let the burger battle begin.
Whip up some Irish soda bread
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 by eating foods the Irish enjoy, including this easy Irish soda bread.
cups allpurpose flour
tablespoons white sugar
teaspoon baking soda
tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup margarine, softened 1
1/4 cup butter, melted 1/4 cup buttermilk
The founder of the daily special Evander Lee, the founder of Leesburg, doesn’t need a statue when he can have a restaurant to honor his legacy. The Evander Lee is expected to open soon at 205 W. Main St. in downtown Leesburg. The American restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with craft cocktails from a full bar, according to its Facebook page. The business already has black-and-white T-shirts emblazoned with a drawing of Evander—a little thread of immortality.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
Dig into some chips and dips! Who doesn’t love chips and dips? March 23 is National Chips and Dips Day, and the perfect time to enjoy your favorite potato chips with French onion dip, or tortilla chips with salsa—just in case you needed an excuse! Foodimentary.com provided the following chips and dip trivia: • The potato chip was invented in 1853. • Dips for chips first became popular in the 1950s, serving as finger food. • It takes 10,000 pounds of potatoes to make 3,500 pounds of potato chips.
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Hungry for some good eats? Mount Dora’s ﬁnest restaurants are ready to whet your appetite. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ
ull out the flip flops, shorts, and tropical shirts as “Island Time” is the theme of the 17th annual Taste in Mount Dora and Casino Night to be hosted 6-11pm March 10 at Sunset Park, 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora. The event sells out every year at 600 tickets, according to Rob English, president of the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, who expects more than 30 restaurants to showcase tasty culinary specialties for the crowd to savor. “I enjoy the festive nature of the event the most. We combine our annual Taste of Mount Dora along with our Casino Night with all the Las Vegas-style gaming,” he says. Guests may bid in the silent auction and also try their hand at blackjack, Texas hold’em, roulette, craps, and poker. A live band provides dancing music, and Rob predicts guests will enjoy posing for photographs in “an old-fashioned photo booth printing out the strips of photos we all used to love.”
The big draw, of course, will be the food. Chef de Cuisine Camilo Velasco, of 1921 by Norman Van Aken, plans to prepare small bites of pork rillettes, slow-cooked pork spread, on house-made grilled sourdough bread. “It’s going to be tasty. We want to show something that maybe perhaps you haven’t tried before,” he says. Adam Crane, general manager of 1921 by Norman Van Aken, views Taste in Mount Dora as a great way to interact with the public. “Hopefully, people will taste what we have to offer and have a good time,” he says. He hopes the event attracts more diners to 1921 by Norman Van Aken, the 142 E. 4th Ave. restaurant that was converted from a 1921 house. “We hear all the time that the restaurant is so beautiful. It’s more than a place to have a good meal, it’s a place to be seen,” Adam says.
Guests may bid in the silent auction and also try their hand at blackjack, Texas hold’em, roulette, craps, and poker while enjoying tasty culinary specialties from more than 30 restaurants.
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“Our menu can be food that can suffice you when needed and it is also food that can be simple and comforting,” Camilo adds. “All in all, it’s a pretty diverse menu that can be fit for all kinds of palates.” Camilo enjoys creating recipes at 1921, one of three restaurants owned by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, who also has a cooking school in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. He is the only Floridian inducted in the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. Norman visits his Mount Dora restaurant once a month, and the menu is a collaboration of his dishes and creations of the 1921 culinary team. “His vast amount of experience and his great palate makes it exciting for us to have him taste something that we have conceptualized or created,” Camilo says. “His compliments are usually very short and sweet, like ‘very good,’ and that means a lot, for sure.” Camilo says Taste in Mount Dora is a great way for chefs and foodies to mingle. “We get an opportunity to walk around and see what the other restaurants have to offer and to see other peers from Mount Dora and this area,” he says. “It’s always great because you do get to meet new people and see regulars outside the restaurant walls.” Joshua Jungferman, general manager and one of the partners of Pisces Rising, 239 W. 4th St., has been involved in the Taste in Mount Dora ever since the restaurant began 14 years ago. “From our point of view, it’s great because it’s a chance for all of us to get out in front of each other; we get to talk and taste each other’s creations,” Joshua says. “The event brings people into town, so it has an economic impact.”
Dishes to savor Pisces Rising and 1921 by Norman Van Aken provided the following recipes: 192 1 BY NORMAN VAN AKEN
Coconut milk rice pudding Ingredients:
cup Arborio rice
teaspoon grated lime zest
1/3 cup sugar
teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon coriander seeds
cups whole milk
(13 ½-oz.) can unsweetened
teaspoon vanilla extract Buckwheat honey Mango slices
cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
Put the rice, cinnamon stick, lime zest, salt, coriander, whole milk, and coconut milk in a heavy saucepan and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring more frequently as it thickens. Once the rice seems close to being done, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl. Measure the volume of the rice mixture. When the rice mixture has reduced to 3½ cups, temper in the yolk mixture by adding about ½ cup of the hot rice at a tome to the yolks, stirring, until the yolks are nicely warmed up. Then combine both in the saucepan and cook, continuing to stir, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove to a bowl to cool and thicken the rest of the way. Serve warm or chilled, with a drizzle of buckwheat honey, some mango, and toasted coconut.
Signature duck Ingredients:
oz. duck, breast
oz. mushroom, trumpet 1
oz. butter, unsalted
oz. garlic, fresh oz. citrus gastrique (recipe below)
Marinate duck overnight: 1
cup Bordeaux, cherry juice
teaspoon cumin Salt and pepper to taste
Start duck in the pan, sear until breast is crisp. Finish in oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees or until the temperature is 125 degrees in the center.
Citrus gastrique Ingredients:
1/3 cup brown sugar
tablespoons rice vinegar
tablespoon Grand Marnier
Start sugar in a sauce pan, add all liquids. Reduce by 1⁄4 volume. Serve over the duck breast.
And those 600 people sampling the Pisces Rising dishes may become future guests at the restaurant. “People really love it,” he says. “The chefs like fresh, farm-to-the-table ingredients from the restaurant, whether it’s seafood, meat, poultry or produce. The creative juices are left to the chefs, and the good thing is the Taste is only a few steps from our front door.” He has seen the event grow over the years. “It gets bigger each year. When we went through the recession back in 2008 and 2009, the Taste got smaller, not only in attendance but in restaurants. But now it’s back bigger than it ever was before, so that is nice to see, and we’ve seen Mount Dora grow, too,” Joshua says. The 297-seat Pisces Rising is the site for about 50 wedding receptions a year. “We’ve had several people ask for another’s hand in marriage here, and we’ve done several of the weddings, so we have become a place where we see a lot of people spending their first-year anniversary, and that is always neat to see the human aspect of the story,” Joshua says. “We’ve been a part of a lot of engagements, a lot of weddings, and we’re a place to go for dates, and we’ve been the first date for a lot of people, too. We’ve been the first date, and the wedding for a lot of people and we’ve seen them every year afterwards for their wedding anniversary.”
Tickets to the 17th annual Taste in Mount Dora and Casino Night may be reserved by calling 352.383.2165 or visiting mountdora.com. Proceeds go toward the continued restoration of the 103-year-old Mount Dora train depot, home of the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce.
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C A S TAWAY S R E S TA U R A N T
Come ‘sea’ for yourself STORY: JAMES COMBS // PHOTOS: FRED LOPEZ
Castaways offers a fullservice bar with two television sets and a 40-person private dining room to accommodate parties.
n an effort to find the latest restaurant to review, we cast a wide net that covered part of the Ocala National Forest and landed in Astor. Castaways, an unpretentious seafood restaurant, is one where waitresses know everyone and everyone knows them. Eavesdrop and you may hear conversation about weather, family members, and last night’s big football game. Look around the walls and chuckle at the amusing signage, “I came, I cast, I kicked bass” or “Save Water, Drink Beer.” The latter is actually good advice, but since I was representing my company, I’m glad willpower prevailed. That said, I couldn’t resist the urge to chase a little tail—gator tail, that is. The appetizer did not disappoint. I’ve had gator tail that is mostly breading or too tough and chewy. Here, you get to enjoy
large, soft, meaty pieces with just the right amount of crispiness. The gator tail is served with a zingy sauce blended with horseradish, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Reading the menu, my stomach growled when I came across the fried seafood platter: fish, clam strips, crab cakes, shrimp, and hush puppies. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I was impressed by the light, mild flavor of the fish but was disappointed with no cocktail sauce for the shrimp. By the time I finished, I was as stuffed as the crab cakes. In fact, I didn’t eat my fries, a shocking revelation for those who assume my stomach is a bottomless pit. For anyone considering making the trip, Castaways offers a full-service bar with two television sets and a 40-person private dining room to accommodate parties. I’m sure glad Castaways didn’t slip through the net.
Castaways Restaurant // 23525 State Road 40, Astor // 352.759.22.13
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MARY ’S KOUNTRY KITCHEN
Hidden gem for great eats STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
ary’s Kountry Kitchen is out in the boonies on County Road 448 in Tavares, and it’s an eatery that would be easy to miss if it weren’t for the packed parking lot—a sign this is a place where the locals go for hearty meals and delicious homemade desserts. My friend and I began our lunch with an appetizer of fried green beans, mainly because she was interested in finding out if she’d like green beans better this way. Of course, she did! She’s naturally drawn to foods dipped in batter and fried to golden brown goodness. For the main meal, I debated over the chef salad or Mary’s Bacon Double Cheeseburger with crinkle-cut fries. Our server, Sara, convinced me to go the burger route, and it was the thickest bacon cheeseburger I’ve had, one where I tasted more beef than bun.
Diners at Mary’s should try to save room for one of the delicious pies, cakes, or other homemade treats.
My friend found her club wrap to be a tasty treat, and it came with a choice of roast beef, ham, or turkey with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo. It also was served with fries, and both of our entrees were reasonably priced. Diners at Mary’s should try to save room for one of the delicious pies, cakes, or other homemade treats. We chose to split a slice of coconut cream pie and found it to be absolutely heavenly! I must confess after having won grand prize for my pies back in Indiana, I never thought I’d taste a better crust, but Mary has me beat. Her luscious, flaky pie crust features melt-in-your-mouth goodness along with the perfect coconut cream filling and airy topping. Mary won us over. We’ll be back for more pie.
Mary’s Kountry Kitchen // 15945 County Road 448, Tavares // 352.343.6823
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CECILE’S FRENCH CORNER
Enjoy croissants and crepes at a charming café
(Out of a possible 5)
STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL // PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
Cecile’s French Corner 237 W. 4th St., Mt. Dora 352.383.7100
ucked away from Mount Dora’s main flow of traffic is Cecile’s French Corner, where the quaint outdoor courtyard of the café is surrounded by gentle breezes through moss-covered oak trees. The charming ambiance simply invites guests to sit back and enjoy a leisurely meal the way the French do. My dining companion and I savored the chance to chill, and we enjoyed poring over the menu filled with tempting appetizers, quiches, hot croissants, cheese platters, sandwiches, salads, crepes, and desserts. The menu items are available for lunch or dinner. I chose the cordon bleu of smoked ham, chicken breast, and melted Swiss cheese, and it was heavenly on a delicious, buttery, flaky croissant served with a hearty garden salad with homemade croutons. My friend found the Parisian sandwich of smoked ham and melted Swiss delightful on a fresh-baked French baguette. It also was served with a salad.
Hours: Sunday-Monday: 9am-9pm Tuesday-Thursday: 10am-9pm, Firday-Saturday: 10am-11pm
Casual dining. $$ Seated immediately (lunch hour) WAIT FOR MEAL: 15 minutes OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY STARTERS: ($4.50-$11.95): Mousse de foie gras, Scallops St. Jacques, baked brie. ENTREES: ($7.95-$16.95): Variety of homemade quiches, hot croissants, cheese platters, crepes.
How Fork On The Road Works Our reviewers are objective and unbiased. This is not a paid feature. Our reviewer makes one unannounced visit and we pay for our meals.
Both of us were eager to order dessert since Cecile’s sweet treats are all homemade and many are made to order, including seven tempting choices of dessert crepes. We chose the apple and cinnamon crepe topped with cinnamon and whipped cream, along with Cecile’s homemade crème brûlée. The crepe’s thin pastry was airy, light, and simply divine. The crème brûlée, a classic French custard, was exquisite with its creamy smooth goodness and crackly top layer of caramelized sugar. Both desserts were a nice finish to our meal. Adding to the charm during our lunch was hearing the lively, happy chatter of four women at a nearby table speaking French as they enjoyed wine and conversation before their salads arrived. It was quite clear they were relishing the moment at Cecile’s. And that’s what dining should be: an enjoyable experience that leaves you eager to return.
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T h e Ta b l e
Battle of the red blends Napa Valley vs. Bordeaux: The winner of a recent blind tasting might just surprise oenophiles who are on the lookout for superior wine blends. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
friend recently asked for a wine recommendation for a “blend”—a special mixture of grape varietals often sought by discriminating wine connoisseurs who are looking for a classic taste. Like all recommendations, it depends on what you prefer—a wellstructured, tannic cabernet or a fruitier merlot. Regardless of your preference, you’ll generally find blends to be smooth and elegant wines. It used to be that the most well-known and best blends of wine came from France’s Bordeaux region. French winemakers perfected the art of blending wines hundreds
of years ago. Today, however, almost every wine region in world offers wine blends for both red and white wines. Many New World wines, like Robert Mondavi Winery’s Maestro and Newton Vineyard’s Unfiltered Merlot, are described as “Bordeauxstyle” blends. Bordeaux red wines usually consist of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, which are the three major grapes produced in the region. Only three other grapes are permitted in French Bordeaux wines: malbec, petit verdot, and carménère, and the percentages of those grapes in
the wines are usually small. Carménère is rarely used at all since many of the vines were destroyed by disease years ago. Studying classic red wines from the Bordeaux region can get complicated because of the classifications and numerous chateaux that produce these wines. The Left Bank, Right Bank designations are the most important things to remember because the taste differences are distinct. Left Bank wines will be made predominantly with cabernet sauvignon grapes. Merlot will be the dominant grape in Right Bank wines.
Recently, a discussion ensued among members of my wine club as to whether French Bordeaux was better than recently released Napa Valley Bordeaux-style blends. After months of planning and searching for comparable wines (both in vintages, blending percentages, and price), I hosted a blind tasting of six red wines (three from California, three from France). It was like a mini-Judgement of Paris, the 1976 blind tasting where many California wines bested the French versions and put Napa Valley on the map. And just like judges in that famous event, my wine club members also had preconceived notions that the California wines couldn’t stand up to the French ones.
Here are the wines we tasted in our own battle of the Bordeaux blends:
Robert Mondavi Maestro 2014 (SRP $50), a blend that is 73 percent cabernet sauvignon, versus a Chateau Malescot St. Exupery 2014 Margaux (SRP $49.99) from France’s Left Bank and also dominated by cabernet sauvignon grapes. Chateau d’Armailhac Phillip de Rothschild 2013 from Pauillac versus Franciscan Estate Magnificat 2013. Both wines were dominated by cabernet sauvignon grapes and both sold in the $45 price range. Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Merlot 2010 (a blend containing 78 percent merlot grapes) versus Chateau Monbousquet St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2012, which contained 60 percent Merlot and was from Bordeaux’s
Right Bank. The Newton sold for about $60 and the Monbousquet was $54.
palate preferences aren’t what they expected.
All the wines were rated highly by Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, but my blind tasters were not given ratings or price information until after we tasted and voted on our own favorites.
OTHER WORLD BLENDS
As with all oenophiles, my wine club friends have their own biases when it comes to the wines they like. They overwhelmingly like dry red wines, especially cabernets. Because of their preferences for that varietal, the vote for the best wine of the evening was an epic surprise: the Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Merlot. Considered one of Napa Valley’s iconic merlot offerings, the Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Merlot is a weighty blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, with splashes of cabernet franc and malbec. The merlot was not the sole winner of the night. The cabernet sauvignonbased Napa Valley wines also outshined the French Bordeaux, much to everyone’s surprise. Only a couple of the tasters out of the 12 members scored the French wines higher. I highly recommend putting together your own blind tasting of similarly constructed wines. And, I guarantee, your results will be different from ours. The votes are not the important part of the evening—it’s all about learning about wines, pairing with the right foods, and enjoying good friends who might just find their
While red wines from the French Bordeaux region are limited to the six grapes previously mentioned, winemakers in the New World are free to experiment with other grape varieties, including zinfandel and shiraz. California blends may include syrah, petite sirah, zinfandel, or any other grape the winemakers think they need for a well-balanced taste. Often these California blends are call “Meritage,” a registered trademark from the Californiabased Meritage Alliance, which sought to create a recognizable name for blends. In Australia, shiraz grapes are commonly used in blends, such as the 2016 Blass Reserve Release Red Blend. Handcrafted from grapes from some of Australia’s premier vineyards, the wine is a fruitfilled mixture of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that sells for about $15, making it a great wine for a casual pizza night. A blend from Argentina also has landed in Florida markets. Gaia 2015 from Domaine Bousquet in Argentina’s Mendoza wine region is an organic wine made with 50 percent malbec, 45 percent syrah, and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon. The Gaia white blend— made with 50 percent chardonnay, 35 percent pinot gris, and 15 percent sauvignon blanc—also is an excellent choice for upcoming summer pool parties. Both wines sell for less than $20.
Regardless of your preference, a well-structured, tannic cabernet or a fruitier merlot, you’ll generally ﬁnd blends to be smooth and elegant wines.
Mary Ann DeSantis Mary Ann DeSantis is a fellow of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, Napa Valley, and recently received certification from the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). An award-winning journalist, she has written for Lake & Sumter Style since 2006.
A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE
Dining in your city Astatula Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940 Astor Blackwater Inn Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US State Road 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 State Road 40 352.759.3551 Bushnell Chuck’s Odd Cuples Café 117 W Belt Ave 352.568.0408 Hong Kong Restaurant 2229 W CR 48 (352) 568-8888 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877 Waller’s Restaurant 138 Bushnell Plaza 352.793.2592 Clermont 801 City Grille 801 Montrose St. 352.394.6911 Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988 Bubba’s Catfish 1800 S. Hwy. 27 352.708.6142 Calabria Ristorante 13900 County Road 455 407.656.5144 Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Corelli Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924 El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884 Flippers Pizzeria 2523 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.242.2214
G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900 Green Garden 1790 E. Hwy. 50 352.243.2077 Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.242.1910 Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565 Lyn’s Ice Cream & Sandwich Shoppe 824 W. Montrose St. 352.536.9935 Napolis Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Robata Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 The Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.4808 Troy’s Cuban & Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295 Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225 Eustis 1884 Restaurant & Bar 12 East Magnolia Ave. 1.800.856.1884 Dam Smoker Barbeque 36721 County Road 19A 352.357.6555 Haystax Restaurant 15439 Hwy. 441 352.489.0510 Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 King’s Taste Bar-B-Que 503 Palmetto St. 352.589.0404 Maria’s Latin Dinner 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.5555
LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256 Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. County Road 44 352.589.9100 Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022 Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949 The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Great Pizza Company 23 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.357.7377 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929 Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001 Valentina’s Sandwhich Factory 132 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.408.9608 Fruitland Park Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575 ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227 Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 Groveland Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999 James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050 Ikaho Sushi Japanese 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988 Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. State Road 33 352.429.2997
Howey-inthe-Hills JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600 Lady Lake Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 Lady Lake Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. 514 Hwy. 441 352.614.9000 Leesburg Bloom’s Baking House and Restaurant 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004 Cafe Ola 400 N. 14th St. 352.365.0089 Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377 Chesapeake Bay Grill 4467 Arlington Ridge Blvd. 352.315.0066 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442 Cuba Pichy’s 10401 US Hwy. 441 352.365.2822 Dance’s BBQ 1707 South Street 352.801.8885 Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989 Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 County Road 44 352.365.2177 God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447 Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739
Habaneros 3 Mexican Restaurant 10601 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.315.1777 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Irene’s Ice Cream Sandwiches and Deli 4120 Corley Island Rd. 352.315.1118 Jamaican George 2402 W. Main St. 352.455.1898 Johnson’s Pizza Place 4120 Corley Island Rd., Ste. 300 352.801.7250 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 County Road 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Ms. T’s Place 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Osaka 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293 Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680 Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565 Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093 San Jose Mexican 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174
Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840 Southern Gourmet 314 W. Main St. 352.409.7512 Stavros Pizza 755 N. 14th St. 352.326.4202 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The 24 Tap Room 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.315.0198 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turner’s 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Two Old Hags Wine Shoppe 410 W Main St 352.435.9107 Vic’s Catering 352.728.8989 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777 Wrapsody 712 W. Main St. 352.801.7239 Mascotte Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093 The Surf Bar and Grill 650 Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Minneola Jack’s Barbecue 100 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.2673 Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232
Mount Dora 1921 by Norman Van Aken 141 E. 4th Ave. 352.385.1921 Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668 Barnwood Country Kitchen and Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903 Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Bocce Pizzeria 925 E. First Ave. 352.385.0067 Breezeway Café 411 N. Donnelly St. 352.702.7898 Cecile’s French Corner 237 W. Fourth Ave. 352.383.7100 Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Eduardo’s Loko Tacos Mexican Restaurant 226 Alfred St. 352.742.1181 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444 J.K. Thai & Sushi 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.5470 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 One Flight Up - Coffee, Dessert & Wine Bar 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.758.9818
Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669 PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092 Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555 Sidelines Sport Eatery 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433 Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 Zellie’s Pub 4025 N. U.S. Hwy. 19A 352.483.3855 Sorrento Del Franco Pizza Place 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Gi Gi’s 25444 State Road 46 352.735.4000 Tavares Angelo’s Italian Restaurant 2270 Vindale Rd. 352.343.2757 Buzzard Beach Grill 12423 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.5267 Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137 Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313 Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 County Road 448 352.343.6823 O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157 Palm Gardens Restaurant 1661 Palm Garden St. 352.431.3217
Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829 Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744 The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585 The Villages Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 Bavarian Brewhaus 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.399.5516 Bravo Pizza 1080 Lake Sumter Landing 352.430.2394 Chengs Chinese and Sushi Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678 China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965 City Fire Brownwood & Paddock Square 352.561.2078 Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400 Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674 Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600 Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824 NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994 RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.2930 Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939 Sakura 265 Colony Blvd 352.205.7393 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800
VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887 Umatilla Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145 Gator’s 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969 Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555 Nicky D’s Pizza 325 N. Central Avenue 352.669.2400 Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 State Road 19 352.669.3922 Quarterdeck 801 Central Ave. 352.669.4662 Shanghai 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004 The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535 Umatilla Tavern 605 N. Central Ave. 352.669.1325 Wildwood China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223 Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577 O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077 Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109 Yalaha Yalaha Bakery 8210 County Road 48 352.324.3366
Country Club Restaurants Clermont Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118 Howey-in-the-Hills Mission Inn Resort El Conquistador Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3101 Mount Dora The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Villages Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208 Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627 Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evan’s Prairie Trail 352.750.2225 Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077 Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200 Legacy Restaurant Nancy Lopez Country Club 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475 Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501 Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499 Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005 Wildwood Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293
A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE
Barnwood Country Kitchen and Smokehouse
tion! a c Lo ours w e N and H
Barbecue, American (Traditional), Southern // 3725 W Old US Hwy 441, Mount Dora // 352.630.4903 Tue-Sat: 7a.m.-3p.m., Closed Sun & Mon // barnwoodbbq.com // facebook.com/barnwoodbbq Mouth-watering barbecue. A family-like atmosphere. Old-fashioned service. Those are three qualities that patrons of Barnwood BBQ and Country Kitchen in Eustis experience upon each visit. Owners Dan and Elaine Backhaus have discovered that the recipe behind delicious barbecue is cooking meats low and slow over smoldering wood. That method has served them well, both for their restaurant and food truck business. Diners can also purchase Barnwood’s delicious, award-winning barbecue sauces and special seasonings. Popular breakfast items include a ham-and-cheese omelet, smoked sausage omelet, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and a variety of breakfast combinations. The restaurant’s equally delicious lunch items include a three-rib sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, beef brisket platter, smoked country sausage platter, mushroom Swiss burger, and grilled Reuben sandwich. Burgers, soups, and salads are also available. Be sure to top off your meal with one of Barnwood’s popular desserts, which include fruit cobbler and dark-chocolate brownies Awards: Lake & Sumter Style magazine’s No. 1 BBQ Restaurant, Best Judged Chicken, Best Judged Ribs, Best Judged Brisket (tie), and thirdplace in Best Judged Pork (April 2015) Top Entrée (pulled pork), Lake Eustis Chamber of Commerce food contest (2015 and 2016).
The Country Club of Mount Dora 1900 Country Club Blvd., Mount Dora 352.735.4059 Come enjoy a great meal at the Country Club of Mount Dora overlooking the beautiful greens of the golf course. We serve lunch daily and breakfast on weekends. Be sure to bring your appetite for our half-pound burgers made your way, thick cut Reuben sandwiches, delicious Greek salad, and much more. We serve a full breakfast menu every Saturday and Sunday including Eggs Benedict, French toast, omelettes, and much more. Come join us!
Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant Open seven days a week: 11am–9pm // Food, Spirits, Music, Sports 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441, Leesburg // 352.253.2442 // CVinnies.com Cousin Vinnie’s is located on U.S. Hwy. 441 across from Home Depot. Owner “Cousin” Vinnie Vittoria and his family have created a unique atmosphere by combining a “Sports Bar” with a “Family Restaurant”. As soon as you walk into Vinnie’s you will immediately notice why they are famous for outstanding comfort food and service! Their 35+ wing sauces have awarded them voted BEST WINGS in Lake & Sumter County every year since opening in 2008. In 2017, Vinnie’s was also voted BEST SPORTS BAR! Every Monday Night from 6 – 10 they host Texas Hold’Em Tournaments, Tuesday night is “Family Night” from 5–8p.m. when kids 12-and-under eat free. Wednesday night is “Trivia Night” when the fun starts at 6:30p.m. with prizes given to the top 3 teams. A few menu items offered are (never frozen – 80/20) ½ lb. burgers, personal pan pizzas, amazing rib-eye Philly cheese steaks, healthy wheat wraps, fresh homemade chicken salad and 15 awesome appetizers, including Cousin Vinnie’s Signature Secret Shrimp! Central Florida’s families simply can’t get enough of their deep-fried Ice Cream, Twinkies and Snickers Bars! Cousin Vinnie’s also offers, a small arcade for the kids, free Wi-Fi, great music, and an enthusiastic staff ready to exceed your expectations.
Gio’s Deli and Mercato 3975 County Road 201, Oxford // 352.748.5558 Mon-Wed 10A.M.-6 P.M. // Thurs-Sat 10 A.M. -8 P.M. Buon Appetito! There’s no need to travel to Italy to enjoy scrumptious homemade breads, pasta, fresh sandwiches, meats, cheeses, desserts, pastries, and foods from an Italian market—it’s all available here at Gio’s Deli, where our chef Giovanni earned his culinary degree in Italy. After opening Giovanni’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in The Villages in 2004, Gio has expanded with the deli bringing more of the old world to The Villages area to enjoy! Gio’s can cater a special family meal of lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken parmigiana or baked ziti, or call us when you need a special party platter or desserts for a social gathering. We get raves over everything from our homemade cheeses, bruschetta, and sweet treats of cannoli, lemon mascarpone cake, cheesecakes, strawberry tiramisu and more. Come check us out!
The Goblin Market Restaurant & Lounge 331-B Donnelly Street (Rear Alley), Mount Dora // 352.735.0059 // GoblinMarketRestaurant.com Lunch: Tue–Sat 11am–3:00pm // Dinner: Tue–Thu 5–9pm, Fri–Sat 5–10pm, Sun 11am–3:30pm Nestled on a back alley in downtown Mount Dora, the Goblin Market Restaurant has been charming locals and tourists alike since 1996. The restaurant, housed in a renovated warehouse, features three intimate, book-lined dining rooms and a full-service lounge furnished in soothing, muted tones with tasteful modern art. The private, tree-shaded courtyard and garden patio are open year-round for al fresco dining. Low lighting and “new age” music add the finishing touches to the restaurant’s casual elegance. Owners Vince and Janis Guzinski embrace a simple philosophy of offering the highest-quality products, served in a unique and romantic atmosphere by a personable and attentive staff. The Goblin Market’s wine list and menu represent a refreshing mix of ideas from its culinary team. The diversified origins and background of each member ensure exciting menu offerings and nightly selections. Join us for our new “lighter fare” dinner menu, gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches. Tuesday–Thursday from 3–9pm (regular dinner menu also available).
Guru Restaurant and Catering 2400 S. U.S. Hwy. 27, Suite 101, Clermont // 352.241.9884 Monday-Saturday 4pm-10 pm // Closed Sun. Guru Restaurant and Catering is the “go-to” place for a wide array of mouthwatering Indian fare, everything from appetizers, clay oven-baked Indian breads, Biryani specialties, chicken, seafood, lamb, beef entrees, and 12 different vegetable dishes for vegans to enjoy. Many diners rave about our Chicken Tikka Masala, featuring boneless chicken cooked in a clay oven, dipped in tomato sauce with onion, and flavored with aromatic herbs. All of our chefs are renowned for their creative combinations of spices and sauces, so let us cook for you!
A r o u n d T h e Ta b l e DINING GUIDE
La Palma 1690 Citrus Blvd., Leesburg // 352.323.1444 // LapalmaGrill.com Open Daily 11:00am – 9:00pm // Lunch Specials: 11:00am – 3:00pm Owner Raudel Torres invites you to a delicious dining experience at the La Palma Mexican Grill. The recipes used for these unique dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Mexico, combined with culinary inspirations and trends from California and Louisiana. Flavorful, homemade Mexican entrees such as Tacos Azteca, Carnitas, Fajitas, and Tamales and much more are timeless and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. Sit in the comfortable dining room or enjoy the outdoor view on the new patio deck. Fast and friendly service, reasonable prices, and three-for-one margaritas all day every day mean exceeding customer expectations. In addition to in-house service, catering is available for large parties, or meetings. Daily specials available on the website, lapalmagrill.com.. ts! hi Nigh Mariac hts from ig Tuesday n d kids an m p -8 6pm ! r) eat free e d (10 and un
Mom & Dads 304 U.S. Hwy. 441, Lady Lake // 352.753.2722 Tue-Sat 4pm–9pm // Closed Sun & Mon This little place in the heart of Lady Lake is a local favorite. All the food at Mom & Dad’s is authentic and homemade, from the famous sauce to pastas to the incredible desserts. Made from scratch in-house ravioli and lasagna. Many diners automatically order Spaghetti al la Bruzzi, which is the house specialty. This baked spaghetti has a meat sauce, mushrooms, and three cheeses. Add to that the homemade bread Papa prepares every day, and you’ve got a memorable meal. You can’t stop with the entrée, however. Mama’s homemade cakes are amazing! Moist and delicious German Chocolate, creamy, luxurious Red Velvet, Cannoli, and who doesn’t love Spumoni. If you’re looking for a great Italian dinner that will remind you of home and all the goodness of eating there, try Mom & Dad’s. Mom & Dad’s also offers a full gluten free menu featuring pizza, lasagna, ravioli, and desserts all made in-house from scratch.
Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 U.S Highway 27, Leesburg // 352-319-8093 // Rodellos.com Open Daily: 11am-9pm Chef Amadeo Avila invites you to enjoy authentic and fresh Italian cuisine in a friendly, comfortable dining environment at the new Rodello’s Italian Restaurant. The recipes used for his dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Italy— the restaurant is named for a city in the old country—with new culinary inspirations that Chef Amadeo has learned during many years in the restaurant business. Flavorful, homemade Italian entrees such as Pistachio Crusted Lamb, Salmon Saltimbocca, Lobster Ravioli, Shrimp Risotto, and many others are classics and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. The lunch menu features personal pizzas, calzones, subs, and pasta. Sit in the spacious dining room or enjoy drinks or desserts like delicious gelato in the cozy lounge, which features a full bar, wine menu, and an array of specialty cocktails. Always look for new specials on Chef Amadeo’s menu, available on the restaurant’s website, Rodellos.com.
Subway Subway.com Custom-made, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food. Lady Lake // 208 W. Guava St. // 352.750.4929 Eustis // 469 Plaza Dr. // 352.357.7827 Mount Dora // 18870 U.S. Hwy. 441 // 352.735.4376 Leesburg // 2013 Citrus Blvd. // 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. Hwy. 441, Suite 4 // 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. Hwy. 27, Suite 4 // 352.314.8847 The Villages // 1580 Bella Cruz Drive // 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165th Mulberry Lane // 352.750.9991 1070 Lake Sumter Landing Drive // 352.205.8535 349 Colony Blvd. // 352.391.1657 Wildwood // 480 W. Gulf to Alantic Hwy. // 352.748.8800
Yalaha Bakery 8210 State Road 48, Yalaha // Open daily 8am-7pm // 352.324.3366 The family owned German Bakery since 1995, is an award-winning Bakery that offers to customers high-quality German products made with the highest culinary standards. Fine European pastries and breads are made with organic flours, chocolates, and spices, butter, and imported European ingredients. Take home tortes, tarts, and wonderful pretzels, but before you go home, enjoy something from our delicious deli menu. We serve breakfast from 8-11am and lunch and dinner are served 11am-7pm. Enjoy German specialties like Nurnberger breakfast, Hunterschnitzel with Spätzle, Bratwurst, Reuben, Quiche, typical German soups, and maybe Semelknoedel (bread dumplings with mushroom sauce) for lunch or dinner. We offer a fine selection of German beers and wines. Whatever time of day, you’ll find something you love at Yalaha Bakery. On the weekends you can come and enjoy various events and music concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at our Beer Garden. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via our website www.yalahabakery.com A German Bakery Like No Other!
Would you like to see your restaurant in our dining section? Call us at 352.787.4112
LAKE & SUMTER
F i na l T h oug h t
you’re scaring me! Tech giant is trying to control every aspect of our lives. STORY: CHRIS GERBASI
omeone is stalking me. Rather, something is stalking me. I know its name. I know where it lives. And it knows me. In fact, it knows way too much about me. Please, Google, leave me alone. It was nice for a while. I was a man with informational needs, and you were a handy search engine ready for action. I agreed to your terms and conditions, even if they seemed a little selfish: “Google retains the right to name your first-born child ‘Google,’ ‘Googie,’ or anything that rhymes with Google, for example, ‘Boogle,’ ‘Foogle,’ ‘Moogle’…” Over the years on each birthday, you’re always first to wish me “Happy Birthday!” when I turn my computer on in the morning, which is really kind of creepy. I don’t actually remember telling you my
I don’t actually remember telling you my birthdate, so it makes me wonder what else you know about me.
birthdate, so it makes me wonder what else you know about me. The animated cake and candles are colorful, but some of your illustrations are just plain weird. What’s going on in your head, Google? And please stop asking me to use Google Chrome. I told you from the start I wasn’t into Chrome, but you keep badgering me. I can’t go anywhere without you popping up and asking, “Sure you don’t want to try Google Chrome?” No means no. You remind me about every place I’ve been and everyone I’ve looked at, and you’re always anticipating everything I say and correcting my spelling—it’s smothering. I don’t know what buttons to push to get through to you. You’re a control freak. How did it get so intense? You’re everywhere. Now you’re trying to get into other
areas of my home with your smart speakers and your “Google Assistant” with that disconcertingly perfect voice. What’s her name? Never mind, I don’t want to know her name. I also don’t need to know how much fiber is in an avocado or how to say, “Where is the velodrome?” in Finnish. First you try to dominate, now you want to submit to my every whim. You’re coming off as needy and desperate. I never thought it would come to this, Google, but you’re making me think of other search engines. Bing. There, I’ve said it. Bing, Bing, Bing. Bing doesn’t ask any questions, it just lets me be me. Enough is enough, Google. No more drama. If you don’t stop tracking me, I’m going to call the police. I’ll just look up that number on Goog…aaahhh!!!
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Isaac L. Mitchell, M.D.
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