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FEATURES

FLORIDA COUNTRY MAGAZINE / ISSUE VOL. 3 • NO. 1

ON THE COVER: Superstar country music duo Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are always pushing themselves to be creative. Cover photo: Robby Klein. Enjoy our interview with FGL on page 72.

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Versatile and Flashy Spotted Saddle Horse Relatively New Breed Was Developed in Tennessee

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6th-Generation Kempfer Cattle Company Cow-Calf Ranch Well Known for its Environmental Stewardship

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DEPARTMENTS FLORIDA COUNTRY MAGAZINE / ISSUE VOL. 3 • NO. 1

FCM CIRCLE

RODEO PROFILES

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER

THE MANY C.L. MANNS OF RODEO!

page 8

page 49

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JUST A SMALLTOWN COWGIRL

VET VIEW

CARE AND TREATMENT OF RODEO ANIMALS

page 52

page 10

CALLY IN WONDERLAND

FLORIDA 4-H

YOUTH LIVESTOCK FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS

page 12

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WHAT FAMILY MEANS TO ME

page 54

THE RANCH

COUNTRY ARTISTRY

WESTERN MURALS CAPTURE THE HEART OF FLORIDA’S COUNTRY LIFE

GRASSY RUN RANCH’S OPEN HOUSE A LIVELY COUNTRY EVENT

HORSIN' AROUND

FLORIDA CHARM

page 58

page 16

VINTAGE MIAMI

A HORSE OF MANY COLORS

page 60

page 20

FLORIDA HARVEST

LIPMAN FAMILY FARMS MORE THAN TOMATOES

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page 24

HIGH IN THE PINES

page 66

page 27

SIXTH-GENERATION HOMESTEADER

page 66

COUNTRY CALIBER

FAMILY MAN FRED KOBIE DOES IT ALL

THE HOMESTEAD

page 30

FLORIDA’S NEW CROP OF RODEO QUEENS

page 33

RURAL RIVERFRONT LIVING IN LABELLE

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page 68

STARS & GUITARS MEET FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE

THE BRAND

page 72

JUST LIKE THE GOOD OL’ DAYS

page 36

THE CULINARY CRACKER

RODEO PROFILES

WHIPPING IT UP IN YOUR KITCHEN

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HOW A BULLFIGHTER IS BORN

page 76

page 46

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page 64

PICTURE PERFECT

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GROWING GREEN AND CLEAN AT COLAB FARMS

WILD FLORIDA

FLORIDA PANTHER

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Owner/Publisher Scarlett Redenius Owner/C.E.O. Brad Redenius President Thomas Fifield Vice President Sheila Fifield Editorial Director Jack Collier Design Director Jessica Fifield Director of Photography Marsay Johnson Proofreader Katherine Waters Sales Associate Lynn Cox Contributing Writers Susan T. Blackwell, Audra Clemons, William R. Cox, Christopher Decubellis, Sherri Denning, Ava Isabel Grace, Kathy Ann Gregg, Dayna Harpster, Kym Rouse Holzwart, Dave Kelly, Katey McClenny, Cally Simpson Featured Photographers Audra Clemons, William R. Cox, David ccphotos, Jennifer Diaz, Ava Isabel Grace, Kathy Ann Gregg, Kym Rouse Holzwart, Tyler Jones, Dave Kelly, Robby Klein, Sally Kempfer, Joe LeDuc, Katey McClenny, Lisa McCoy, Johnny McKeehan, Karen Joiner Quinn, Mike Rastelli, Ryan Smith, Still Vika For more information about advertising with Florida Country Magazine, or joining our regional sales team, please contact:

239-692-2613 sales@floridacountrymagazine.com For other inquiries contact:

Scarlett Redenius, Publisher 239-600-4783 Published by: Florida Country Publications

PO Box 50989 • Fort Myers, FL 33994 LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

facebook.com/floridacountrymagazine F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M Florida Country Magazine is published bi-monthly, copyright 2019, all rights reserved. Reproduction of contents in print or electronic transmission in whole or in part in any language or format must be by expressed written permission of the publisher. All articles, descriptions and suggestions in this magazine are merely expression of opinions from contributors and advertisers and do not constitute the opinion of the publisher, editor or staff of Florida Country Magazine, and under no circumstances constitutes assurances or guarantees concerning the quality of any service or product. Florida Country Magazine specifically disclaims any liability related to these expressions and opinions. Florida Country Magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. The advertiser agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the publishers from all liability.

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FCM CIRCLE

’m always fascinated when meeting people from other states that are known to be farming and ranching country. When they see our magazine, their faces show bewilderment and excitement: Who knew the Sunshine State had more to offer than Mickey Mouse and sandy beaches? I’m also surprised by people in our own state who have no clue about who really puts food on their tables. I hate to think they simply don’t care, but I have met people like this. They are used to just going to the grocery store and getting their food—with no thought process on where it came from. This doesn’t just happen in our state; it happens in every state and therefore it is so important to educate people in as many ways as possible. I can understand that while eating your great salad or stuffed pepper, it’s hard to stop and think it could come from Lipman Family Farms (page 24) or another Florida farmer’s harvest. Or maybe something in your salad was grown aeroponically or hydroponically by CoLab Farms (page 27). But I want to know where my food comes from and so should you.

You can manage the land all you want, but understanding that we need to take care of our environment to keep producing and supplying consumable goods is vital. One ranch well known for its environmental stewardship is Kempfer Cattle Company (page 42). It specializes in purebred and commercial Brahman and Brahman-cross cattle. Nothing better than beef to complement your salad or stuff that pepper! Speaking of cattle—but not for food—this issue is full of articles for rodeo enthusiasts. You’ll learn about behind-the-scenes animal care (page 10), what makes a young man want to be a bullfighter (page 46), women who have earned legendary reputations in the arena (page 49 and page 52), and the smart, beautiful women who wear this year’s crowns (page 33). And speaking again of food, which is my favorite subject, an extravaganza awaits all tomato lovers. Just check out our delicious recipes (page 76).

One of the best ways to get involved is to have your children join 4-H. Youth livestock shows and exhibitions (page 12) enable 4-H participants as young as age 5 to start with hands-on experience.

You can be sure Florida Country Magazine will keep telling our stories from all over our state. We’re doing our part for educational awareness. I’m proud of what and who we stand for and if Florida Country Magazine can spark one person’s interest to visit, buy or consume from our local Floridian farmers and ranchers, we’re proud of that.

Not only should you be concerned about what is grown in our soil, you should be equally concerned about what is raised on our soil. More and more farmers and ranchers are realizing the real definition of “Stewards of the Land.”

Each one of us plays an important part in keeping generational family traditions alive: our food, their income. And remember, like the saying, “You have only one life”—well, you have only one land, too— and Florida is a great land. SCARLETT REDENIUS, Publisher

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BOTTOM PHOTO BY SALLY KEMPFER

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GOD BLESS OUR STATE’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS


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VET VIEW

CARE AND TREATMENT OF RODEO ANIMALS PRCA HAS MORE THAN 60 RULES IN ITS OFFICIAL REGULATIONS

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Written by: Susan E. Blackwell, CVT

ith events ranging from steer wrestling to calf roping, rodeos put animal health and welfare in front of fans—which include cowboys, cowgirls and city slickers. Local rodeo events themselves may offer opportunities for the general public to get closer to livestock. This can prompt spectators to question the animals’ health and welfare.

and may touch the animal only on the hip or shoulder area.

Thus, it’s good to be reminded that each rodeo is an athletic performance and the health of each animal is critical. These animals perform only as well as they feel. Peak health equals peak athletic ability: Horses, cattle and bulls break faster from the box when they feel good.

• Weight limitations are set for calves (220-280 pounds) and steers (450-650 pounds).

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, or PRCA, has more than 60 rules that ensure the proper care and treatment of rodeo animals. The rules are included in its official regulations. Several of the safeguards are as follows: • A veterinarian must be on-site at all PRCA-sanctioned rodeos. • All animals are inspected and evaluated for illness, weight, eyesight and injury prior to the rodeo. No animals that are sore, lame, sick or injured are allowed to participate.

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• Stimulants and hypnotics may not be given to any animal to improve performance. • Any PRCA member caught using unnecessary roughness or abusing an animal may be immediately disqualified from the rodeo and fined. This holds true whether it is in the competitive arena or elsewhere on the rodeo grounds.

• Flank straps for horses are fleece-lined or neoprene-lined. Those for bulls are made of soft cotton rope and may be lined with fleece or neoprene. • Steers used in team and steer roping have a protective covering placed around their horns. • The use of prods and similar devices is prohibited in the riding events unless an animal is stalled in the chute. • A no-jerk-down rule provides for fines if a contestant jerks a calf over backward in tie-down roping.

• Acceptable spurs must be dull.

• All rodeos must have a conveyance available to humanely transport any injured animal.

• Standard electric prods may be used only when necessary

• Chutes must be constructed with the safety of the animals in mind.

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Hauling animals is part of daily life on the rodeo circuit. A health program that focuses on prevention and living conditions is critical. Clean water, quality hay and feed, along with preventative veterinary care, ensure healthy, productive, well-performing rodeo animals. Close attention by handlers of any changes in the animals’ behavior can assist in getting preventative health care. Veterinary care focuses on dewormers for external and internal parasite control for cattle and horses. Cattle are vaccinated against bovine virus diarrhea and anaplasmosis. Horses are vaccinated against eastern/ western encephalitis, tetanus, flu/rhino, West Nile encephalitis and rabies. Deworming and vaccinating rodeo stock not only protects the animals’ health, it protects the public from zoonotic diseases.

Behind the scenes of a rodeo is an entire team of people involved in assisting the animals in being the very best athletic performers they can be.

Behind the scenes of a rodeo is an entire team of people involved in assisting the animals in being the very best athletic performers they can be. From owners to caretakers, veterinarians, government entities, regulatory bodies and performers—the one main goal is the quality of animal care and welfare—leading to an absolutely amazing experience for the attending public. Susan E. Blackwell, CVT, Calusa Equine Veterinary Services

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FLORIDA 4-H

YOUTH LIVESTOCK FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS SKILLS, FOND MEMORIES STAY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE FOR LIFE

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Written by: Chris Decubellis

hroughout the centuries, farmers and ranchers have constantly strived to improve the quality of animals in their flocks and herds. Most people involved in animal husbandry would breed “the best to the best” in their region of the world—for example, breeding one’s best cows to a neighbor’s best bull. Areas became famous for particular types of animals that later led to specific animal breeds, such as the Hampshire hog or Guernsey dairy cattle. The animals were selected to optimize unique traits.

One of the ways livestock producers have used to determine and feature their best animals have been local fairs and livestock exhibitions. Ezekiel 27:12-14 mentions people trading in fairs, including buying and selling horses and mules. Over time, livestock shows became an important tool to show off the benefits and attributes of a breed or type of animal. Farmers and ranchers took personal pride in achieving desired and highly sought-after traits in their animals. The first fair in the New World was in 1765 in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1811, Elkanah Watson, “father of U.S. agricultural fairs,” organized shows in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In those first shows, a $70 prize was awarded to the best team of oxen, and best cattle, swine and sheep exhibits. Not until the 20th century did youth livestock shows gain popularity, thanks in part to the organization of the youth agricultural programs 4-H and Future Farmers of America. There are more than 3,200 fairs in North America. Those of us in youth development use fairs and livestock exhibitions as tools to help young people gain subject matter expertise in their livestock projects, and to help them develop life skills. It’s imperative that show organizers keep opportunities and competitions “age appropriate and developmentally appropriate.” This ensures that young people get the maximum benefit from participating, and that there is a successful future for youth livestock shows. Participation in fairs and other youth livestock competitions help young people develop a host of skills that will serve them well the rest of their lives. They learn the responsibility of caring for animals. They learn entrepreneurship while keeping careful records of expenses and possible income associated with livestock projects.

At left, a 4-H youth guides his hog during the swine competition at a 4-H livestock fair.

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PHOTO BY TYLER JONES

Young people learn to communicate when writing records and participating in “Ask Me” booths at fairs, and when giving speeches or demonstrations on aspects of their animal projects. The skills and the fond memories will remain with the young people throughout their lives.


PARTICIPATION IN FAIRS AND OTHER YOUTH LIVESTOCK COMPETITIONS help young people develop a host of skills that will serve them well the rest of their lives.

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FLORIDA 4-H At left, 4-H youth with their dairy heifers in the show ring. The historical photo at right is of Florida 4-H youth showing Jersey cattle.

THE SKILLS AND THE FOND MEMORIES WILL REMAIN WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES. And many young people find career paths based on one of their 4-H projects. Across most of the United States, members of 4-H and the Future Farmers of America participate in shows and fairs during the summertime. However, here in the Sunshine State, it makes sense that we have a lot of our local fairs—and even the Florida State Fair—in the cooler months of autumn, winter and spring.

On its website, the Florida Federation of Fairs publishes a list of local and regional fairs held in the Sunshine State. For information, check out: floridafairs.org/events/member-events. And for those who want to “feel good about the future of our country,” visit a local fair and see the hardworking, respectful, well-spoken 4-H members as they exhibit the fruits of their labor. You’ll be seeing some of the best young people in your community in action. Dr. Chris Decubellis is the Associate State 4-H Program Leader with UF/IFAS Extension. A native Floridian and a member of a west Pasco County pioneer family, Chris lives on a small cow-calf operation and family farm in Archer, Florida.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF FLORIDA 4-H

The North Florida Fair is typically held in November in Tallahassee, and the South Florida Fair is held in January in West Palm Beach. The Florida State Fair takes place in February in Tampa, and the Central Florida Fair in Orlando is usually held in late February through early March.


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COUNTRY ARTISTRY

WESTERN MURALS CAPTURE THE HEART OF FLORIDA’S COUNTRY LIFE Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

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This mural, titled Williams Family Cattle Drive—1937, is located in Okeechobee.

or country lovers, there’s nothing better than seeing galloping horses, “Old Florida” Cracker houses and herds of cattle in pastures. The western-style murals of Florida, which are found in many Florida towns, offer such images—and they are larger than life. Adorning walls, buildings and other structures, these western murals “paint the towns” with tales of long ago. Let’s explore a few:

Rodeo held each March and a variety of additional events that take place throughout the year.

Arcadia

The Rodeo was completed in October of 2010. It is located on the southeast corner of Polk and Magnolia (Highway 70 East).

Arcadia, in DeSoto County, is a town that’s well-known for its antique district, quaint shops, Annual Watermelon Festival in May, the Arcadia All-Florida Championship

The town features a western mural titled The Rodeo, which tells the story of Arcadia’s first rodeo through present times. The mural depicts bucking horses, cowboys and an American flag. It was painted by Tim Haas of Tim Haas Artistry and Linda Cassels-Hofmann of Castles In The Air.

Okeechobee

Okeechobee, in Okeechobee County, is a rural town and

Cattle Drive Down Marion Avenue, in Punta Gorda, pays tribute to Florida's Cracker cattle.

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A section of The Rodeo mural, which is located in Arcadia.

TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF OKEECHOBEE MAIN STREET; BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF PUNTA GORDA HISTORIC MURAL SOCIETY; BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF DESOTO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

ARTWORKS OFFER GLIMPSES INTO SUNSHINE STATE’S PAST


The Rodeo tells the story of Arcadia's first rodeo through present times.

a progressive community. It’s known as the “Speckled Perch Capital of the World”—which is also the name of a festival that the town holds every March. Each July, Okeechobee also has a “Day of the Cowboy” event that includes a cattle drive through town. Okeechobee Main Street’s first mural project was completed in July of 2006 and is titled Williams Family Cattle Drive—1937. The mural shows a cattle drive with a cowboy atop a horse and another cowboy overlooking the cattle. Williams Family Cattle Drive—1937 kicked off Okeechobee Main Street’s arts and cultural programs. “Our mural projects depict the rich history of Okeechobee and bring a lot of pride to the community,” explains Bridgette Waldau, arts & culture alliance director, Okeechobee Main Street.

TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF DESOTO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY; BOTTOM PHOTO COURTESY OF OKEECHOBEE MAIN STREET

The mural, at 206 North Parrott Ave., was sponsored by Haynes and Susan Williams. The art was directed by Waldau. Many artists worked on the mural, including Waldau, Fawn McNeil Barr, Maureen Burroughs, TJ Condon and Jillian Warren. Junior artists were Lindsay Crum, Rocky Huddeleston, Taneisha Mitchell, Rachel Muros, Brianna Nunez, Jack Radebaugh, Hannah Sadler, Donny Sheldon, Nick Valcaniant and Gabrielle Velie.

Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda, in Charlotte County, is a charming, historic and thriving town situated on Charlotte Harbor. Punta Gorda happens to be the second-largest

OUR MURAL PROJECTS DEPICT the rich history of Okeechobee and bring a lot of pride to the community. —Bridgette Waldau, arts & culture alliance director, Okeechobee Main Street

A cattle rancher overlooks his herd in the Okeechobee mural Williams Family Cattle Drive —1937.

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A section of Punta Gorda's Cattle Drive Down Marion Avenue.

THESE WESTERN MURALS “paint the towns” with tales of long ago.

“mural city” in the state—with 30 murals located throughout the town. In 1995, the Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society was created with a mission “to preserve the rich history of the Punta Gorda area through the beauty of mural art.” Kelly Gaylord, president of the society, notes, “The murals are a popular attraction for visitors and seasonal residents.” The society hosts walking tours and history classes, which are attended by more than 500 people each year. One of the murals, titled Cattle Drive Down Marion Avenue, pays tribute to Florida’s Cracker cattle. The cattle were brought to Florida by the Spaniards almost 500 years ago.

Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

ROUNDUP DeSoto County Historical Society Inc. P.O. Box 1824, Arcadia 863-266-5774, historicdesoto.org Okeechobee Main Street 55 South Parrott Ave., Okeechobee 863-357-6246, okeechobeemainstreet.org Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society puntagordamurals.org

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PUNTA GORDA HISTORIC MURAL SOCIETY

Cattle Drive Down Marion Avenue was sponsored by Barbara Galvin and painted by Michael Vires in 2007. The mural is featured on attorney Michael Rooney’s building at 306 East Olympia Ave., at the corner of Wood Street.


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HORSIN' AROUND

A HORSE OF MANY COLORS MYAKKA TRAIL RIDES RAISES AKHAL-TEKE BREED, KNOWN FOR ‘METALLIC GLOW’

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he Akhal-Teke horse—one of the world’s rarest breeds with about 5,000 worldwide, including 500 in the USA—is also one of the most colorfully stunning. The breed’s three main basecoat colors are black, bay, and red (along with variations). Many of the horses have prominent white markings. In addition, Akhal-Tekes often have marvelous metallic glows to their coats, because of the actual structure of the hair itself. Some Akhal-Tekes have blue eyes, or even one blue eye, adding to their surprising and pleasing colors. And they are also known for their beautiful trot, strong jumps and pleasant personality.

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Dasha Cole and her husband, Attila Molnar, own Myakka Trail Rides in Myakka City, Florida, in southeastern Manatee County. “The private riding facility is for individuals, families and group outings,” according to its website, myakkatrailrides.com. Cole and Molnar “also breed and promote Akhal-Teke horses,” thought to have “originated in the Karakum Desert, former territory of Persia, 3,000 years ago.”

AKHAL-TEKES OFTEN HAVE MARVELOUS METALLIC GLOWS TO THEIR COATS, BECAUSE OF THE ACTUAL STRUCTURE OF THE HAIR ITSELF.

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They started the business to help unwanted horses after the Great Recession, and the facility offers lessons, birthday parties, “affordable boarding” and trail rides. “We were very lucky, as we met many dedicated people—our customers, our riders, our

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF VANESSA VOGELI

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace


trainers and our volunteers—who have continued to help us with our mission to help horses over the years,” says Cole. Cole and Molnar currently have three Akhal-Tekes: Tikka, Lilly and a stallion named Elvis. Simon is half Akhal-Teke and half Quarter Horse. They also have two Tennessee Walkers named General Lee and Rain, and a Saddlebred called Stanley. Their Quarter Horses are Annie, Oakley and Saddie. Rounding out the barn are a draft-cross named Shrek, an Arab called Chief, a Thoroughbred-cross named Fiona— and Cowboy the pony. Jerry Ashworth of Cape Neddick, Maine, spends most of the winter at Longboat Key and rides at Myakka Trail Rides. “The trail weaves through varied terrain, through some water and over typical Florida back country. There’s always a good chance of seeing interesting wildlife on our trips,” Ashworth notes. He says the open fields are perfect for an uninterrupted canter or trot.

Opposite page, a stallion named Elvis is one of three Akhal-Tekes at Myakka Trail Rides. Clockwise from above, Elvis and Lily, also an Akhal-Teke, enjoy each other's company; another view of Lily; the facility's third Akhal-Teke is called Tikka.

Stacy Rose of Port Charlotte, Florida, says, “The horses are trained so well, they practically trail themselves.” Lori Phillips of Venice, Florida, adds, “I always have a great experience every single time. I start smiling the second I get there.”

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HORSIN' AROUND AKHAL-TEKE INFO

with Adult Meal Purchase. One Chicken Leg and Fries. Dine-In Only.

Cole reports, “Many people’s favorite trail ride is ‘Sunset Trail,’ which is perfect for that special occasion or romantic evening.” Her facility’s offerings also include one-hour casual trail rides for beginners, and lessons combined with mini trail rides. In addition, there are corporate events, and horses can be transported to such sites as local parks, for a group. Possibly most enjoyable of all at Myakka Trail Rides? Seeing the many magical colors of its Akhal-Tekes! Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

ROUNDUP 11 Southwest Florida Locations View Our Menu at ribcity.com

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Myakka Trail Rides 46405 Clay Gully Road, Myakka City 941-219-9399, myakkatrailrides.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF VANESSA VOGELI

Base colors: Black, bay, and red; white markings Hair: Silky Average height: 15 to 16 hands Head: Well-proportioned; straight profile Neck: Long and lean Chest: Deep Shoulder: Long, muscular, sloping Legs: Long, slender; strong with broad joints Hooves: Small, strong For more info, visit akhal-teke.org, the Akhal-Teke Association of America.


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FLORIDA HARVEST

LIPMAN FAMILY FARMS MORE THAN TOMATOES CHILDREN, EDUCATION MAIN FOCUS OF ITS CHARITABLE EFFORTS Written by: Dayna Harpster

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t’s not particularly easy representing agribusiness today. There are environmental problems to be solved—and fingers pointing in all directions.

“I want people to understand that the nature of agriculture and food production hasn’t changed,” says Weisinger recently in his office on New Market Road in Immokalee. “What we have in this state is not an agriculture issue. Nutrients produced by agriculture have steadily declined over the past 30 years,” he says. “What we have is a people problem … trying to fit more and more people on smaller pieces of land.” Above left are photos of Jaime Weisinger’s grandfather Abraham (Arby) Lipman, one of six children of Lipman Produce founders Max and Ella Lipman. At left are Max and Ella. Below, Max and Ella pose with their children and children's spouses.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIPMAN/WEISINGER FAMILY

So Jaime Weisinger, director of community and government relations for Lipman Produce, continues to concentrate on the values his family has had during its many decades in Southwest Florida: Food production and being a good neighbor and good stewards of the land are very important to the company and the community.


PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIPMAN PRODUCE

FOOD PRODUCTION AND BEING a good neighbor and good stewards of the land are very important to the company and the community.

Above, tomatoes are sorted by ripeness at the Lipman warehouse in Immokalee, Florida. Inset photos show packaged tomatoes. Below is Jaime Weisinger, the company's director of community and government relations.

In August 2017, Weisinger was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a volunteer position in which he’ll serve until 2021. It’s not where he thought he’d be at one time. A graduate of Boston University with a degree in finance, Weisinger had his sights set outside of Florida. “I went to college thinking I was going to be the next Wall Street guru,” he notes with a smile. “I wanted to be Gordon Gecko [of the movie Wall Street] without the insider trading part.” Weisinger worked in mortgage banking after college, but it wasn’t the fit he thought it would be. Before long, he’d joined the business that his mother’s family started. “And now I love this business,” he says. A turning point for Lipman seems to have come with a change in direction and the hiring of a non-family chief executive officer for the first time in 50 years. “That was a huge deal for us,” Weisinger explains. Kent Shoemaker came on board in 2010 and “we’ve had our biggest growth since then,” Weisinger continues. Lipman subsequently bought nine other companies, mostly “value added … in repacking and distribution.” Not all of the produce packed and repacked at the Immokalee warehouse is grown on Lipman Family Farms—although they are not in short supply, consisting of five in Florida, and more farms spread across seven other states. Lipman owns 13 distribution facilities, some as joint ventures with other companies. Lipman’s headquarters is in Estero; a seed vault is located in Naples. There are eight people with doctorate degrees working for the company, which F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

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FLORIDA HARVEST

WE’RE A LIVING, BREATHING PART OF EVERY COMMUNITY WE’RE IN. SOMEBODY’S MEEMAW WORKS HERE—SOMEBODY’S UNCLE, SOMEBODY’S SISTER-IN-LAW. — Jaime Weisinger, director of community and government relations now produces its own proprietary seeds and grows its tomatoes from seed to harvest and then distributes them as well. Among its own tomato crops, 55 percent goes to food service companies and 45 percent to retail operations, Weisinger says. And although known for its tomatoes, Lipman also grows Florida winter vegetables such as cucumber, green pepper and squash. Today, Lipman grows and distributes 60 million cases of tomatoes a year. At 25 pounds per case, that’s 1.5 billion pounds of tomatoes. They’re all harvested when green and ripen in transit. For years, it has been important to Lipman to give back to the community, through charities such as the Immokalee

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Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s new location in Immokalee, direct scholarships that totaled $75,000 last year and more than 8,000 backpacks of school supplies over the past six years. Children and education are a main focus of its charitable efforts, and Weisinger makes most of the philanthropic decisions. “I think it’s important to understand a company is not just bricks and mortar,” he says. “We’re a living, breathing part of every community we’re in. Somebody’s meemaw works here—somebody’s uncle, somebody’s sister-in-law.” Dayna Harpster is a writer living in Southwest Florida.

TOP RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF LIPMAN/WEISINGER FAMILY; OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIPMAN PRODUCE

Far left, Weisinger holds a shovel from the Immokalee groundbreaking of the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County. Near left is a wedding photo of Larry Lipman, who was Lipman's CEO for many years. Weisinger, about age 3, is in the middle and on the right are Gloria and Arby, his grandparents. Below, employees package tomatoes for shipment.


FLORIDA HARVEST

GROWING GREEN AND CLEAN AT COLAB FARMS INDIANTOWN-BASED FARM FEATURES AEROPONIC AND HYDROPONIC GREENHOUSES

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Written by: Audra Clemons

n the early months of 2017, Pam Alexander was looking to expand her organic backyard garden. Also during that time, Allison Linn had a hankering to expand her native landscape and honeybee business into organic vegetable gardening, after graduating from the University of Florida/Institute of Food & Agricultural Science’s Master Gardener program.

PHOTOS BY AUDRA CLEMONS

When these two women crossed paths, their visions came together in the form of CoLab Farms. It’s a 5-acre, sustainable organic-inspired farm, located just west of Indiantown, in Martin County on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The farm is equipped with six aeroponic and hydroponic vegetable greenhouses, an industrial kitchen, an event space and quarters for housing exchange volunteers with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF. “Our aeroponic towers are used for growing lettuces, kale and herbs. And our other greenhouses are used to grow vine vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in coco peat,” explains Linn. “Our methods eliminate the need for pesticides—reinforcing our commitment to using organic methods for all our growing. We’re dedicated to education and innovation, with the goal of creating a well-informed, eco-friendly and well-fed society.” CoLab Farms prides itself on sustainability. For example, coco peat, the fibrous “hair” of coconuts, is used as a grow-

ing medium because it retains water and gives plant roots better access to air. Aeroponic towers use 98 percent less water than traditional agriculture methods, and bumblebees are used to naturally pollinate the plants. “We have two beehives in the greenhouses. These hives consist of bumblebees because they are a higher productive pollinator than honey bees. Also, they don’t mind being in an enclosed area, whereas honeybees do,” Linn says. “The bees are a very essential part of our farm—they are vital for reproduction. For instance, eggplants, tomatoes and squash are not able to put out a fruit if they’re not pollinated.” CoLab Farms offers guided tours every Wednesday, any time from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals and groups can explore the greenhouses and learn more about the aeroponic, hydroponic, sustainable and bee pollinating techniques used throughout the grounds. Beyond farming onsite, the two CoLab co-founders have an impressive list of chefs and farm-to-table restaurants to which they supply produce. Included are District Table & Bar, The Gafford, and Fruits & Roots Vegan Café, all located in Stuart, and Okeechobee-based Livestock Market Restaurant, to name just a few. “I’ve really enjoyed collaborating and partnering with industry professionals; sharing strengths in order to ac-

At left, the author's twin daughters get a tour of CoLabs Farms, including its hydroponic method of growing vegetables, shown above.

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FLORIDA HARVEST

Above from left, bumblebees are used to naturally pollinate the plants; vegetables flourish on the farm's 5 acres, and the twins continue their tour in style!

complish goals really works,” notes Linn. And Alexander adds, “Also, farming people rock.” A CoLab Farms pop-up tent can be found on Saturdays at the Grandview Public Market in downtown West Palm Beach. Weekly produce goes to Palm City Farms and Palm City Produce farmers’ markets. “We really enjoy relationships; we want to sell our produce directly to our customers. We like to deliver our product, which helps us maintain the integrity of it. We talk to our customers and see what they need. We don’t want to pigeonhole our farm into growing just one thing. I like to grow everything, in all different styles and varieties,” Linn says. The old saying, “variety is the spice of life,” resonates true at CoLab Farms. To tour the property or to order produce, call 561-262-5113 or email colabfarms@gmail.com. Audra Clemons has more than 15 years’ experience as an international publicist and freelance writer. Motherhood keeps her busy raising year-old twin girls, and loving every minute! Her client and writing portfolio can be viewed at AudraClemons.com.

CoLab Farms 12951 SW Paddock Drive, Indiantown 561-262-5113, CoLabFarms.com colabfarms@gmail.com Facebook.com/CoLabFarms Instagram: @CoLabFarms

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PHOTOS BY AUDRA CLEMONS

ROUNDUP


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FAMILY MAN FRED KOBIE DOES IT ALL HE’S A FARMER, HUSBAND, DAD, GRANDPA, VETERAN, BUSINESSMAN—AND MORE Written by: Dayna Harpster

At left are Fred and Holly Kobie, who will have been married 32 years in February. At right are just some of Fred Kobie's membership pins, medals and certifications.

As far as the other family words go, when we talked, he was looking forward to a holiday trip to Montana with 13 relatives and also a Rotary mission trip to India in January with his wife; his mother, Kathleen, and his brother, Kevin. Spread over four counties, his cattle number 60. He has just approved house plans for the family’s 30-acre farm in LaBelle, Florida, where the name Generations Farm certainly applies. His daughter and son-in-law have a house there, and Fred and Holly Kobie will, soon. You might think all that togetherness precludes working relationships, but you’d be wrong. Throw a stone anywhere in the company offices in the Benchmark Industrial Park in Fort Myers and you’ll hit a Kobie. Not that you would do that. Fred Kobie notes he has “three natural kids,” including daughter Jessica, “now a Jones,” and another one “raised in my house, with his mom’s permission. And he’s as much my son as Fred and Michael,” he says. That other son is Layne Reeves, now service manager.

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“All because two people fell in love” reads a sign over his bed, meaning his parents, who were married for “49 and seven-eighths years” until his father died. His dad, Harry J. Kobie, “looked like Elvis,” his son says. A medic in France in World War II, “my dad was a hero, the real kind.” He was apparently his son’s inspiration to also join the Army, and Fred Kobie would become a finance officer with the 82nd Airborne. Harry Kobie had established a heating and air conditioning business by the time he moved his young family, including 13-year-old Fred, from Horsham, Pennsylvania, to Fort Myers and then Fort Myers Beach. Fred Kobie remembers the swing bridge there and the fact that Interstate 75 stopped in Sarasota. And in Horsham, he remembered a girl who lived nearby. When he got out of the Army, he returned to Fort Myers Beach. The way he tells it, then his dad sent him back to the Horsham area “to clear out a house and sell some stuff.” While there, he looked up that girl. “And when she smiled at me, I knew,” he says. Back in Fort Myers for a couple of weeks, he couldn’t get Holly off his mind. So he bought a car for $100, he explains. And although the car didn’t make it all the way to Pennsylvania—in fact, it caught fire on the interstate and he had to rent a replacement—Kobie got there in one piece. It was a year or so before Fred and Holly Kobie would get back to Fort Myers, but they did. Then for a while, Kobie was a firefighter in Estero. He was inspired to learn about

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF FRED KOBIE

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or Fred Kobie, “family” is a word that goes with everything. It certainly describes “business,” as in Kobie Kooling, but also “vacation,” “mission,” “farm”—and even those aren’t all. The man now called “Pop” in his own family has created 57 more families by conducting that many weddings, including his daughter’s. As for himself, he’s been married to Holly for 32 years in February. “I take marriage very seriously,” he says.


Fred Kobie served in the Army as a finance officer with the 82nd Airborne Division.

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COUNTRY CALIBER THE MAN NOW CALLED “POP” in his own family has created 57 more families by conducting that many weddings, including his daughter’s.

Above are Fred Kobie and his father, Harry J. Kobie, who started Harry J. Kobie and Sons Heating and Cooling in 1949. Below are Fred Kobie III and Michael Kobie.

and become certified to inspect indoor air quality after Hurricane Andrew, “when everybody was getting ripped off.” He started doing second opinions on mold inspection for free. On Thanksgiving Day 1995, Kobie notes, he made a big presentation to the family about continuing in air conditioning, starting a company with his brothers. Now, he estimates that 16 to 17 employees out of “20plus” in that company are related. And he has another title, along with marriage celebrant, farmer, firefighter, husband, dad, grandpa, veteran and business owner— the “mold detective.”

PHOTOS COURTESY OF FRED KOBIE

Dayna Harpster is a writer living in Southwest Florida.

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COUNTRY CALIBER

FLORIDA’S NEW CROP OF RODEO QUEENS 2019 SHAPING UP TO BE YEAR OF GRACE AND BEAUTY

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Written by: Kathy Ann Gregg

s Keri Sheffield—the first Florida candidate to win the Miss Rodeo America title—was in Las Vegas in December, handing over her crown to the winner for 2019, two other Florida young ladies were gearing up for their upcoming year as rodeo queens: The 2019 Miss Rodeo Florida is 24-year-old Cara Spirazza, from Lake Worth. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Spirazza has been around horses most of her

life and ran barrels and did trail riding. The university gave her the opportunity to be on its Western Equestrian Team in both horsemanship and reining, competing in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association. While attending college, Spirazza also worked and lived at Rock Springs Run Reserve, located in central Florida. Her job was to manage the herd of 35 horses and to guide horseback trail rides through the 14,000-acre state park. Spirazza is now in her second year of veterinary school at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, in

PHOTOS BY DAVID CCPHOTOS

At the Southeastern Circuit Finals in Davie, Florida, last November, from left: 2019 Miss Southeastern Circuit Baily Simpson, 2018 Miss Southeastern Circuit Ellie Johnston of Arkansas, 2019 Miss Rodeo Florida Cara Spirazza, Miss Wilderness Circuit 2019 Jayna Scadden of Utah, Miss First Frontier Circuit 2018 Brianna Fedorkowicz of Delaware, 2018 Miss Rodeo Mississippi Taylor McNair (who went on to become Miss Rodeo America 2019), Miss Mid-South 2018 Susan Rhodes of Arkansas, PRCA director and co-owner of Weekley Brothers/Davie Pro Rodeo Troy Weekley and his grandson Luke Roberts, and professional rodeo announcer Jerry Todd.

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COUNTRY CALIBER Tuskegee, Alabama. She intends to become a large animal vet, with a focus on equine sports medicine for rodeo athletes—the four-legged ones, that is! She says, “I have my horses with me at school. So for fun, I’m able to barrel race and team rope, and any chance I get you’ll find me in the saddle!” Spirazza’s other venture into the world of rodeo queens was her year as Miss Southeastern Circuit in 2017. One of her platforms for 2019 is to highlight the importance of veterinary care for rodeo livestock, and the animal welfare rules that are followed in pro rodeo. She’ll be joined by her court: Miss Teen Rodeo Florida Kassidy Cabot, and Miss Rodeo Florida Princess Bailee Jeannin and Sweetheart Sydnee Crawley.

PHOTOS BY DAVID CCPHOTOS

CARA SPIRAZZA, 2019 MISS RODEO FLORIDA, IS NOW IN HER SECOND YEAR OF VETERINARY SCHOOL AT TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE.

Spirazza at the Southeastern Circuit Finals.

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Captured on camera at the Peace River ProRodeo are, from left, Simpson, PRCA bullrider Tyler Congleton and 2017 Miss Rodeo Florida Keri Sheffield. Sheffield went on to become 2018 Miss Rodeo America.

The 2019 Miss Southeastern Circuit is Baily Simpson, who hails from St. Cloud, Florida. Her résumé of rodeo queening includes Miss Silver Spurs in 2015, and was Miss Teen Rodeo Florida to Keri Sheffield’s reign as Miss Rodeo Florida in 2017. Simpson decided to stretch her wings this past year: She was the Osceola County Cattlemen’s Sweetheart for 2018 and ran for the state title last June. The Southeastern Circuit is one of the 12 circuits in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. It’s made up of the states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. Both ladies started their respective reigns a wee bit early, with an appearance at the Southeastern Circuit Finals held last November in Davie, Florida. Ellie Johnston of Arkansas, the 2018 Miss Southeastern Circuit, made for two sashes with that title at this event! And they were joined by Miss Rodeo Mississippi—Taylor McNair, who went on to win the title of Miss Rodeo America 2019 in Vegas.

PHOTO BY KATHY ANN GREGG

Spirazza and Simpson are the official representatives of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the state of Florida and the Southeastern Circuit, respectively. They’ll spend a good portion of the coming year traveling to rodeos around the country, and in December 2019, Spirazza will have a shot at that coveted crown now worn by McNair! If you see these ladies at a rodeo, don’t be shy— they’ll gladly pose for a picture with you or give you an autographed tearsheet. That way you can share in the grace and beauty in 2019! Kathy Ann Gregg is a writer and photographer specializing in rodeo persons and events. She is proud to call both of these queens her friends! F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

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THE BRAND

JUST LIKE THE GOOD OL’ DAYS RENEWED LIFE FOR WEBSTER’S CIRCA-1922 RICHLOAM GENERAL STORE Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

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n the 19th and early 20th centuries, a general store was to be found in almost every town. The stores carried all that townsfolk needed, such as lanterns, harnesses and ropes, which dangled from ceiling hooks; soaps, spices and first aid supplies, lined up on the shelves, and flour, coffee and beans stuffed inside bins. There were also tins of penny candy and other goodies atop the counters. General stores, more often than not, offered postal services. They were community gathering spots—places to sit around on benches or chairs and talk about the weather, the crops and the feed that was usually sold “out back.” They were places where families stopped by after

Sunday services, people visited to share news, and children shuffled in after school for candy. While the general store has since been replaced with big box stores and online shopping, and gathering places have gone into the virtual world, Richloam General Store gives a big nod to the way things used to be. The store is located in the community of Richloam, which is part of the tiny town of Webster, in Florida’s Sumter County. Sidney “Sid” Brinson, great uncle of Eric Burkes—who now owns the store—founded Richloam General Store in 1922. In 1928, the store was burned down during a robbery but Sid Brinson quickly rebuilt it. Less than a month later, it was again serving customers.

Clockwise from above, owner Eric Burkes relaxes on his Richloam General Store porch; store shelves are stocked with 1930s-era goods, and local residents and area visitors are always welcome.

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THE STORE, WHICH REOPENED IN 2017, OFFERS PRODUCTS THAT ARE TRUE TO THE TIME PERIOD OF THE 1930S.


PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF RICHLOAM GENERAL STORE.

From 1922 until 1936, the store offered the local community a rich mixture of goods and services, including postal services. But times changed and Richloam General Store closed its doors. The cucumber packing house, train depot, icehouse and smokehouse that once operated on the same property also ceased operating. In 1973, current owner Eric Burkes’ father, John W. “Big John” Brinson, a towering man who stood at 6-foot-3inches and weighed 277 pounds, purchased the 1-acre property from Sid Brinson’s estate and used it for storage. In 2003, Burkes purchased the property and refurbished the store in 2016. According to richloamstore.com, it reopened in 2017 as Richloam General Store. “I got Richloam General Store added to the National Register [of Historic Places] in October 2017, and placed a historic marker at the store in June 2018,” explains Burkes. He has authored History of Richloam, which is for sale in the store and on Amazon. These days, Richloam General Store attracts local customers and also visitors from afar. The store offers products that are true to the time period of the 1930s, including low-preservative, Amish-made bread-and-butter

pickles, corn relish, and spiced apple rings, along with blueberry, blackberry and strawberry jams and jellies. It also features dry goods such as raw cane sugar and pancake mixes, and has candy jars and gift items atop the counters. Also on the shelves is Big John’s BBQ Sauce, made with a recipe developed by “Big John” Brinson, who spent years perfecting it.

Plans are in place to turn the entire 1-acre property back to its original state and refurbish the property and buildings that once were vital to the community of Richloam. “We plan on Above, the store has once again become a community landmark. Below right, opening it up as a time the store features wooden floors and shelves, and hand-painted signs. period museum, free to the public,” Burkes notes. His goal is to completely wrap up the project by 2022, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Richloam General Store. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

ROUNDUP Richloam General Store (Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) 38219 Richloam Clay Sink Road, Webster 800-915-8027, richloamstore.com F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

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DMF Gold Sensation is one of the high-quality Spotted Saddle Horse stallions at Spotted Haven Farm in Hudson, Florida.

Written by: KYM ROUSE HOLZWART

FLORIDIANS ARE BEGINNING TO DISCOVER the beautiful, smoothgaited Spotted Saddle Horse—yet the breed is still not very well known in Florida, especially in the southern part. Developed in Tennessee’s middle region, the Spotted Saddle Horse is a relatively new breed. It traces its ancestry back to the gentle, strong,

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gaited spotted ponies that were brought to this country by the early Spaniards, and to gaited horses similar to the foundation stock of the American Saddlebred, Standardbred and Tennessee Walking Horse. The goal for developing this breed was to produce a naturally gaited riding horse that was large enough for adults, while still retaining the color and gentleness of the spotted pony. Tennessee Walking Horses, Standardbreds, Mustangs, Morgans, Missouri Fox Trotters, Paso Finos, Peruvian Pasos and Racking Horses have contributed to the breed’s rich genetic heritage. The most identifiable characteristics of Spotted Saddle Horses are their flashy, colorful coats and their natural, smooth gait. Spotted Saddle Horses have a pinto coloration, with white spots on a background that can be any color. Overo and tobiano are the two most common patterns, and the coverage of the white spots can range from minimal to almost complete. Spotted Saddle Horses are used in the show ring, as well as for pleasure and trail riding. In addition to their docile temperaments, they excel in many disciplines, are extremely versatile and have tremendous athletic abilities.

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE BY LISA MCCOY

Spotted Saddle Horses literally glide down the trail or around the show ring performing ambling gaits, such as the rack and running walk. They are rugged, square-made horses with large, strong bones. Spotted Saddle Horses were initially small, with heavy legs and heads, short necks and compact bodies, because they descend from the hardy pony breeds. In recent years, selective breeding has resulted in a larger walking horse build, while still retaining the spotted color and gentle disposition of the pony.

Spotted Saddle Horses literally glide down the trail or around the show ring performing ambling gaits, such as the rack and running walk.

Overo and tobiano are the two most common patterns of the Spotted Saddle Horse. They can be any color, such as this beautiful buckskin gelding, Sunshine and Whiskey.

The Spotted Saddle Horse averages 15 hands tall (usually ranging from 14.3 to 16 hands) and weighs from 900 to 1,100 pounds. The head is refined and the neck is muscular, with a slight arch, leading into long, sloping shoulders and a muscular chest. The withers are typically high, the back is fairly short and the hindquarters muscular and broad. This breed has graceful, long limbs, a long sloping hip and a short, strong coupling. The croup is slightly sloping and rounded, with a high-set tail. The bottom line is longer than the top line, allowing a long stride. There are two registries for Spotted Saddle Horses: The National Spotted Saddle Horse Association, or NSSHA, was formed in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1979, and the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association, or SSHBEA, was formed in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in 1985. Both associations have fairly similar registration requirements. However, the NSSHA has an open stud book and will F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

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TOP LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF J. MICHAEL ELLEDGE; TOP MIDDLE PHOTO COURTESY OF SPOTTED SADDLE HORSE BREEDERS AND EXHIBITORS ASSOCIATION; TOP RIGHT AND MIDDLE RIGHT PHOTOS BY LISA MCCOY; MIDDLE LEFT PHOTO BY JOHNNY MCKEEHAN; BOTTOM PHOTO BY KYM ROUSE HOLZWART

Clockwise from above left: Spotted Saddle Horses do well in obstacle competitions; they're docile enough to be shown by small children; the author’s prize mare Ginger Twist demonstrates the breed's beauty, athleticism and versatility and is equally at home in the show ring; another view of Sunshine and Whiskey; FWRHA shows include Spotted Saddle Horse classes. Below, the breed has a pinto coloration; coverage of the white spots can range from minimal to almost complete.


register horses that are as short as 13.3 hands. The SSHBEA has a semi-closed stud book, requiring at least one SSHBEA-registered parent. To be eligible for registration, both associations require that horses have white above the hocks—at least one 2-inch spot, not including facial markings. They must also exhibit the breed’s smooth, four-beat saddle gait. The requirements may necessitate submission of a video or inspection by an authorized person. Depending on their pedigrees, many Spotted Saddle Horses are doubleregistered as Tennessee Walking Horses; some are also registered as National Racking Horses. The majority of Spotted Saddle Horse breeding farms are in Tennessee’s middle region. However, Spotted Haven Farm in Hudson, Florida, has a number of outstanding Spotted Saddle Horse breeding stallions. And with its herd of high-quality Spotted Saddle Horse mares, Spotted Dance Ranch in Brooksville, Florida, breeds them on a small scale, typically one foal per year. The Florida Walking and Racking Horse Association holds shows for gaited

Roundup SPOTTED SADDLE HORSE BREEDERS AND EXHIBITORS ASSOCIATION, sshbea.org NATIONAL SPOTTED SADDLE HORSE ASSOCIATION, nssha.com FLORIDA WALKING AND RACKING HORSE ASSOCIATION, fwrha.org SPOTTED HAVEN FARM, 727-247-2603 SPOTTED DANCE RANCH,

spotteddanceranch.com

horses in the central part of the state, which include classes specifically for Spotted Saddle Horses. Kym Rouse Holzwart is a multi-generational native Floridian, an ecologist, co-proprietor of Spotted Dance Ranch, and has been a free-lance and technical writer for over 30 years.

PHOTO BY LISA MCCOY

In recent years, selective breeding has resulted in a larger walking horse build, while still retaining the spotted color and gentle disposition of the pony.

Another view of DMF Gold Sensation at Spotted Haven Farm in Hudson.

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PHOTO BY KATEY MCCLENNY

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At left, George, Henry and Bear Kempfer pushing a herd of Brahman cattle. At right are Billy Kempfer with his twin sons, George and Henry.

Written by: KATEY MC CLENNY

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O MOST PEOPLE, THOUGHTS OF FLORIDA CONJURE UP IMAGES OF SANDY WHITE BEACHES, MICKEY MOUSE AND PALM TREES. WITH ALMOST A THOUSAND PEOPLE MOVING TO THE SUNSHINE STATE EACH DAY, IT’S BOTH A VACATION DESTINATION AND A STATE WITH A RAPIDLY GROWING POPULATION. But to the lucky few, the state is much more than amusement parks and salt water. Keep your eyes open on the interstates and you’ll spot miles and miles of pastureland supporting Florida’s cattle industry. The cabbage hammocks, cypress trees and saw grass conceal a legacy that began in 1521 when the flatlands welcomed the first cattle to North America.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLY KEMPFER

The industry continues to thrive today, rich with tradition, heritage and conservation. Florida ranks as a top cow-calf state, with 15,000 beef producers. And the Kempfer family of Deer Park in Osceola County, southeast of Disney World, is one of the state’s ranching families working hard to raise wholesome beef and be stewards of the land. The sixth-generation cow-calf ranch accounts for 25,000 acres and about 3,000 head of cattle. Kempfer Cattle Company specializes in purebred and commercial Brahman and Brahman-cross cattle, and is well known for its environmental stewardship. “It’s more than a lifestyle. I guess you could call it a passion,” Billy Kempfer says. His father and grandfather raised cattle on the ranch, and Kempfer has passed down his knowledge to his sons and grandchildren. He was 16 years old when his father passed away; Kempfer began managing the ranch at 18. “I was extremely lucky to have the world’s best father-in-law, who was one of the state’s highly respected cowmen.

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“It’s more than a lifestyle. I guess you could call it a passion. “ —Billy Kempfer

I was able to lean on him and my two brothers-in-law an awful lot,” Kempfer explains.

improved pasture to a large cypress and hardwood swamp, along with pine flatwoods and native pastures.

He made up his mind that his boys would begin taking over responsibilities on the ranch after graduation from college. Now that tradition continues, as their children are pursuing agriculture-related degrees as well and seek to continue improving operations.

This land keeps the above-listed wildlife and other animals safe from development. “I’m passionate about doing all I can to protect the future of production agriculture and trying to protect the resources necessary to continue the production of food and fiber for a growing population, keeping as much land as possible from becoming a housing development,” Kempfer states.

On any given day, three generations of Kempfers can be found in the barn before dawn, feeding and saddling horses, loading trailers and preparing for the many hours of work ahead. The

Family values are an integral aspect of the Kempfer Cattle Company—the ranchers break for a full dinner daily at

sunrise over a misty Bahia field will reveal their Florida Cracker Horses riding out for that day’s work, cur dogs trotting at heel, yellow slickers tied tightly on their saddlebacks.

noon, prepared by Kempfer’s wife, “Granny.” On especially busy days, it’s a slab of Kempfer beef cooked over an open flame in the cow pens. Either way, no one wants to miss it.

Typically, that day’s work would include rotating pastures to avoid overgrazing, administering vaccines if needed, branding, and doctoring any cows requiring attention. Kempfer Cattle Company’s breeding program produces calves in November, December and January.

In addition to breeding, raising and selling top-quality cattle, the Kempfers also have a small herd of rodeo stock. The bucking bull business began several years back as a fun hobby to support the local rodeo. Since then, the Kempfers have had three bulls go on to compete at the prestigious Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Kempfer Cattle Company hosts an annual bull sale in November, with bulls from the previous year’s calf crop. It uses technology to keep accurate online logs for each cow on the ranch, ensuring that the animals receive the highest level of care and are taken care of at every stage. The ranch not only provides a home for cattle, but for many other wildlife as well. Included are white-tailed deer, Osceola turkeys, quails, doves and sandhill cranes, to name just a few. The ranch features a diverse habitat—from

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The plan for the future of Kempfer Cattle Company is simple—continue improving genetics and continue passing it on to the next generation. “Florida has its definite challenges,” Billy Kempfer says. “But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” Katey McClenny is an avid outdoorswoman and blogger who has spent most of her life on the beaches and cattle ranches of Florida. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with her dogs and horses.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BILLY KEMPFER

At left are Brahman bulls; at right is a herd of purebred Brahman cattle.


MIDDLE RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLY KEMPFER; OTHER PHOTOS BY SALLY KEMPFER

At top, pushing a herd. Above left, Hyatt Kempfer and his father, Henry; above right is Kempfer Cattle Company's National Finals Rodeo qualifier bull Hang Em High. Shown below are Will Kempfer and Sandi Kempfer.

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HOW A BULLFIGHTER IS BORN WESTON RANDANT OF LABELLE TAKES ON THE TOUGHER SIDE OF RODEO Written by: Kathy Ann Gregg

With the rider on the ground, bullfighter Weston Randant keeps the animal's attention in the opposite direction, which will allow the rider to get up and get to safety.

And that is exactly what happened to Weston Randant of LaBelle, Florida! He cites one of his first memories as an infant as being at a rodeo—well, that comes with being a fourth-generation rodeo cowboy, from both sides of his family. Weston Randant’s dad, Jamie Randant, was a bullrider, and an all-around cowboy. So the expectations for his son were that he, too, would become a bullrider, and would be even better at the sport than his dad. But it was not to be. Weston Randant tried the sport and quickly learned that it was not for him. While growing up around the rodeo world, the now 19-year-old always watched the bullfighters with not only

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admiration, but a secret love for this aspect of the sport. And local Clint Raulerson, who had graduated from being on top of the bulls to facing them on ground level, became Randant’s idol and eventually his mentor. When asked when he first became interested in bullfighting, Randant tells a tale of himself as a 7-year-old: His family owned a little bull calf named Twister, the one he describes as his “first best friend.” While out in the pasture with Twister one day, Randant decided to provoke him. He touched the little bull on his head, who for a while played with Randant—until Twister jumped at him so quickly that he knocked the youth into a feed trough. Randant remembers looking up into his dad’s laughing face, and a future bullfighter was born. Randant’s upbringing was unusual in that he not only saw the competitive side of rodeo, but also the stock contractor side, with the family being a partner in Randant & Lee Bucking Bulls, of pro rodeo fame. While at a practice pen

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE BY MIKE RASTELLI

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hat do you do with a child who loves being out in the pasture with your cattle and livestock, and who counts a bull calf as his first best friend? You let him compete in the traditional high school sports of football, baseball, basketball and even wrestling—and then you let him grow up to be a bullfighter!


Randant gets some air time trying to free up the hand of the rider, who got hung up when being bucked off. Randant matches his moves with those of the bull while working to untie the rider's hand.

THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD IS STEPPING IN THERE AND PUTTING YOURSELF BETWEEN A BULL AND A COWBOY—EVEN IF IT MEANS THAT I MAY TAKE A SHOT. IN THIS GAME, IT’S PREPARE FOR THE WORST BUT HOPE FOR THE BEST. —WESTON RANDANT

LOR RIID DAACCO OU UNTRYM NTRYMAAG GAAZZIIN NEE..CCO OM M FFLO

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RODEO PROFILE At left, Randant taps the bull's head to divert its attention from the rider, who is on the ground. Right, Randant inserts himself into the gap between bull and fallen rider, the most dangerous move he makes.

WHILE GROWING UP around the rodeo world, the now 19-year-old always watched the bullfighters with not only admiration, but a secret love for this aspect of the sport. at Gethsemane Ranch one day, where he went to ride bulls, he found a pair of cleats in his duffel bag, and donned them to help out some of his buddies in the arena. After handling the first bull that day, Randant came to the realization that this was what he wanted to do in rodeo. He has handled the 2,000-pound monsters for DPC Bucking Bulls, Winding Trails Ranch and even for the Retro Rodeo Company. Randant states, “The best feeling in the world is stepping in there and putting yourself between a bull and a cowboy—even if it means that I may take a shot. In this game, it’s prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”

And before every rodeo, Randant “takes a knee” in the cowboy way—to pray. The sport of bullriding will be seeing much more of this dynamic young athlete! Kathy Ann Gregg is a professional rodeo photographer and writer.

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PHOTOS BY MIKE RASTELLI

He describes his life as being blessed with many good friends, and even more blessed with an awesome family. Randant says one of his fondest memories is when he fought at the Fort Myers Cracker Day Rodeo, with his dad as one of the judges—father and son working together, and Jamie Randant watching him perform from close up.


THE MANY C.L. MANNS OF RODEO!

RODEO PROFILE

YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, CHERYL LYNN, COMPETED TWICE IN NATIONAL FINALS RODEO

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SPRINGER PHOTOGRAPHY

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Written by: Kathy Ann Gregg

.L. Mann was a tie-down roper and steer wrestler in the world of rodeo, and in his spare time he trained cutting horses. He and his wife, Irma Ruth, lived in Osceola County, Florida, where they had three daughters—and all three had their daddy’s initials!

First to come along was Charlotte Louise Mann Lewis, followed by Clara Lou Mann Carter, and last—but definitely not least—Cheryl Lynn Mann. These Florida gals were rodeo from the beginning, having practically grown up at the Silver Spurs, where they all rode in the quadrille. And all three became barrel racing champions, each having held the winning title (multiple times) with the Florida Barrel Racers Association, or FBRA, and the Florida Cowboys Association, or FCA. In fact, there isn’t a rodeo in the state that Cheryl Lynn hasn’t won. Irma Ruth passed away when Cheryl Lynn was just 5 years old, and she was essentially raised by her sisters. In fact, she and Clara Lou, along with Clara Lou’s husband, roper Jimmy Carter, still live together on their ranch in Frostproof, Florida.

Above, Cheryl Lynn Mann on Uh-Oh in the fourth go-round at the 1989 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, where they placed 14th. Below, she posed with Uh-Oh for her formal NFR portrait.

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RODEO PROFILE

Hustling Herb carried her through the cloverleaf pattern at the Southeastern Circuit Finals for the next three years, when along came Sunrise Wonder, which was foaled and raised in Avon Park, Florida, by Glen and Joy Murphy. The dam was an American Quarter Horse Association Supreme Champion, and Sunrise Wonder was sired by Wonder Otoe. Sunrise Wonder was also trained by Cheryl Lynn. The magnificent equine’s barn name was Uh-Oh, and he and Cheryl Lynn rose together. The 1987 Oklahoma City barrel futurities started a run of $19,000-plus. In 1988, the duo won every derby they entered. Then they went on to the next level—the National Finals Rodeo, or NFR—in 1988 and 1989, with Uh-Oh only 5 and 6 years old, respectively. A horse that young is virtually unheard of barrel racing at the NFR! Her first trip to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas saw her place fifth in the world on him, followed by a 14th-place finish in 1989. (Uh-Oh was at the University of Florida equine veterinary center in Gainesville when the NFR was about to commence in 1989. Cheryl Lynn stopped to pick him up and headed straight to Vegas!) Cheryl Lynn was a fixture at the Southeastern Circuit Finals. She competed when they took place in Marianna, Florida, in 1985; in Marietta, Georgia, in 1986, then back to central Florida before making its permanent home in Davie, Florida, at the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. She was Southeastern Circuit Champion in 1988 and 1989, and again in 1997—all while riding Uh-Oh. In fact, she qualified for the Southeastern Circuit Finals consecutively from 1985 to 2001. Cheryl Lynn and Clara Lou tell a humorous tale from the 1998 Circuit Finals: Clara Lou’s husband, Jimmy, had bought her a horse trained by Kim Landry, named Chocolotta. The first time Clara Lou got on Chocolotta to compete at the Circuit Finals, the horse took off with her—causing one of

the pick-up men to have to go rescue her. She dismounted and told Jimmy that was the last time she’d get on that horse. In order to save a bad situation, Jimmy went to Cheryl Lynn and begged her to ride Chocolotta. Cheryl Lynn finally relented—and she and Clara Lou swapped horses, allowing Clara Lou to compete on Uh-Oh. And Cheryl Lynn was the champion on Chocolotta, and Clara Lou was reserve champion on Uh-Oh! Clara Lou competed on Uh-Oh the following year, 1999, and then the beloved stallion was retired by them. In 2002, Cheryl Lynn suffered a severe ankle injury, dislocating a bone, which slowed down her barrel racing career. But it has not slowed her down—she continues to train barrel horses, giving clinics and private lessons. She has worked cows (where the nickname of the women workers was “The Petticoat Crew”) and is secretary to several annual ranch rodeos and open rodeos. Cheryl Lynn has continued to compete in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and is the holder of a Gold Card. She’s been the president and driving force behind the FBRA for the past 12 years. She holds these 12 events annually, rotating between Fred Smith Arena at Brighton, Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia, Let It Ride in Lakeland and Reality Ranch in Zolfo Springs. Cheryl Lynn teases that she’s not only the youngest of the three sisters—she’s also the sweetest. Clara Lou just responds with a “Hrmph.” It’s obvious these two ladies get along well. And they honored late sister Charlotte Louise with a memorial barrel race for eight years, following her death in 1998 of breast cancer. While rodeo for adult women consists mainly of barrel racing, it’s no less impressive to have a résumé the likes of Cheryl Lynn Mann’s! Kathy Ann Gregg specializes in rodeo persons and events in her writing and photography. She feels privileged to count Cheryl Lynn, and Clara Lou and Jimmy Carter, as her friends.

At left, Cheryl Lynn on Uh-Oh at the NFR in 1988. At right, on Junior, she rounds the first barrel at the 2014 Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo.

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LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF SPRINGER PHOTOGRAPHY; RIGHT PHOTO BY KATHY ANN GREGG

The years 1983 and 1984 were the break-out ones for Cheryl Lynn’s career. She won both the FBRA and FCA titles those years, riding a Quarter Horse she had trained, called Hustling Herb.


TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF SPRINGER PHOTOGRAPHY; BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERYL LYNN MANN; BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE RASTELLI

Above, Cheryl Lynn rides Uh-Oh in the Oklahoma City Barrel Racing Futurity in 1987. At left are sisters Clara Lou, Cheryl Lynn and the late Charlotte Louise. Below right, Cheryl Lynn and Uh-Oh for the winning run at the Bonifay Pro Rodeo in October of 1992, which took place on the Florida town’s football field.

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JUST A SMALL-TOWN COWGIRL TAYLOR MADE PERFORMANCE HORSES LLC OFFERS TRAINING, LESSONS AND HIGH-QUALITY BREEDING PROGRAM Written by: Katey McClenny

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or Wendy Taylor-Monroe, growing up in Blountstown, Florida, located in the Panhandle in Calhoun County, was the typical small-town dream. Her family farmed corn, oats and wheat, and was one of the first farms in the state to begin farming perennial peanut hay. She did not come from a “horse family” but at 4 years old, she rode a friend’s pony for the first time. That pony was named Bits, and from that moment on, a passion was born. Her parents gave her first horse at age 12, a sorrel gelding named Sunshine. She sought out a trainer, and so began her barrel racing career. It was Sunshine who led to her winning her first ribbon, buckle and saddle. “We learned a lot of things together—the hard way,” Taylor-Monroe says. Fortunately, her parents were supportive of her dreams and always allowed room on the farm for her horses, something she remains very grateful for. “They really thought horses were going to be a passing thing,” Taylor-Monroe explains. “Boy, were they wrong!”

Currently, she competes in professional rodeos, as well as local jackpots and the National Barrel Horse Association circuit. Taylor-Monroe has had a successful career thus far in the competitive sport of barrel racing, with many wins under her belt buckle. Her favorite rodeo memory is from 2011, when she won the PRCA Rodeo in Mobile, Alabama, on a 4-year-old colt she had trained. Taylor-Monroe also offers lessons and clinics for any level rider. Perhaps her background in education has led to her success in this arena as well. Her gentle spirit, encouraging words, cowgirl grit and years of knowledge have led countless other cowgirls to follow their dreams and become successful riders, too.

She has an associate degree in education, as well as a paramedic and EMT license. In 2008, Taylor-Monroe started Taylor Made Performance Horses LLC. Just a few years later in 2013, she was able to leave her successful EMT career behind to pursue her dream of raising, breeding and training top-notch performance horses full time.

In addition to horse training and lessons, Taylor Made Performance Horses LLC also has a high-quality breeding program, an area she plans to expand more in the near future. In 2016, a new facility was purchased in nearby Marianna, Florida, in hopes of growing the business. The beautiful, 80-acre farm located in the tall pines of northern Florida also offers horse boarding and a wedding/ event venue.

“My favorite aspect of the horse business is making a living with nature,” Taylor-Monroe states. “Every morning, rain or shine, I feel so blessed to spend my day with them.”

Taylor-Monroe believes that—win or lose—every barrel race offers an

In 2016, Taylor Made Performance Horses LLC purchased this new facility in nearby Marianna, Florida.

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HER GENTLE SPIRIT, encouraging words, cowgirl grit and years of knowledge have led countless other cowgirls to follow their dreams and become successful riders, too.

Above are Wendy Taylor-Monroe and her husband, Brad Monroe, whom she credits for much of her success.

opportunity to grow. “Even for the seasoned barrel racer, there is always something new to learn,” she notes. And as for advice for new riders, she shares: “Find someone seasoned, but most of all find that seasoned equine partner. The horse is the most important factor.”

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE BY KAREN JOINER QUINN

In the horse world, a rider who is inexperienced is called “green,” and so is an inexperienced horse. “Green and green equals black and blue,” she says, laughing. When asked about her plans for the future, Taylor-Monroe says, “My goals consist of taking some of the younger horses I have now to some of the bigger futurities, and from there taking them to the bigger rodeos out West. I also hope to be able to travel and give more clinics.” She credits her success to her mother, husband and several mentors along the way. “In the sport of barrel racing, there are ups and downs. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. I used to carry a bad run with me but I have gotten better at leaving it where it is and moving on.  It’s there to teach us and make us better … there’s always another race day!” Katey McClenny is an avid outdoorswoman and blogger who has spent most of her life on the beaches and cattle ranches of Florida. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with her dogs and horses.

ROUNDUP Taylor Made Performance Horses LLC 508 Highway 73, Marianna 850-447-1065, instagram.com/ taylormadeperformancehorses

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WHAT FAMILY MEANS TO ME YOU CAN AND SHOULD BUILD YOUR OWN FAMILY TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS

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Written by: Cally Simpson

spend a lot of time writing about families—my own, some that I know and some that I don’t know until the moment I sit down to learn their stories. But writing about families and writing about what families mean are two totally different things. So in this column, I’m jotting down a few ideas about what family means to me. This past holiday season was probably one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I’ve been divorced for almost two years and it was my third holiday season since separating. Each year, I’ve started reflecting on “where I’ve been and where I’m going.” Honestly, my and my son’s futures look brighter now than they ever have! Technically, I’m considered a single mom but that’s a label I don’t choose to wear—because I want to give respect to those parents who are doing it on their own and making it work. I was more of a single parent when I was married than I am now. The support system I have around me ensures I’ll never be a single parent a day in my life.

Let’s talk for a minute about family. Some people think that to be a part of someone’s family, you must be related by either blood or marriage. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. To me, a family can be made up of a group of people who genuinely want the best for each other and are willing to help out to make sure that happens. My family consists of people I’m related to by birth and people who I choose to have in my life. This past holiday season reminded me yet again why family is important and why you can and should build your own family to your specifications—not those put on you by society or what someone else defines as family. When you ask my son, Bur, who is in his family, he will immediately say Mia and Papa (my parents), his cousins, aunt, uncle and great-grandparents. But his answer doesn’t stop there: He has a laundry list a mile long of aunts and uncles that he can rattle off at the drop of a hat, and at the top of the list are his godparents—Lala and Uncle BR.

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PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF CALLY SIMPSON

For that, I’m immensely grateful and want to give a shoutout to those parents who are actual single parents! Y’all deserve a medal and a ton of recognition. I have an army of people following me around, making sure I continue to climb the mountains I choose—and who will help me achieve success that is good for both my son and me. I couldn’t do what I do without them.


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CALLY IN WONDERLAND When godparents are chosen, they represent a child at his or her baptism and then help guide the child through life. I was fortunate to have two wonderful godparents and was blessed with a godsister and godbrother (their children). They were the obvious choice for who I wanted to help lead Bur through life. Not everyone takes godparenting as far as we do, but here again, I’m “making my family” what works for me. Even though we aren’t related, I wouldn’t want my son to grow up without them. You may be saying to yourself: “Well, I can understand that. They are your family in the eyes of the church.” Yes, you are absolutely correct—but I take this even further and include some of my very best friends as family.

THIS PAST HOLIDAY SEASON REMINDED ME YET AGAIN WHY FAMILY IS IMPORTANT.

Every year, Bur and I go to Ghent, Kentucky, to have a special Christmas with his Aunt Cindy and Uncle Leroy. It’s one of our favorite nights of the year and Bur absolutely loves them. He has no idea that I’ve known them for only the last six or so years. To him, they are just as much a part of his family as his Mia and Papa. I met them through training dogs—as I have so many other members of our “family.”

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Another person he puts into our family circle is Nyra Grange, a friend I’ve had since well before Bur was born. She was one of the first people to see him in the hospital after his birth—and I couldn’t survive most weeks without her support! Nyra and her family love my little boy with a fierceness that needs to be felt in every family. She’s helped me with him from the start and her kids treat him like a member of their family.

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I could sit here and name all the people who Bur and I have chosen to put into our family. But since a picture is worth a thousand words, and I can only put so many names into one article, I’ll let some of my pictures of our family do the talking!

And I hope this little story will help you to look around and realize that your family can be anything you want it to be and not get caught up in what you “think” a family should be. Be grateful to have people in your life you want to consider family, whether you’re actually related to them or not.

Cally Simpson is the mother of a beautiful boy and loves to travel around the state commemorating our history and heritage. Check her blog, callyinwonderland.com.


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THE RANCH

GRASSY RUN RANCH’S OPEN HOUSE A LIVELY COUNTRY EVENT VENUE IS PERFECT FOR PARTIES, CELEBRATIONS, RETREATS, REUNIONS AND WEDDINGS

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n the historic town of LaBelle, Florida, is Grassy Run Ranch—a newly opened event venue. It’s set on 150 acres that fill the air with fresh country spirit, please the eye with towering oak hammocks and soothe the ears with sounds of grazing cattle and horses. The ranch’s theme is “Cowboy Cracker House and Barn” and that’s the perfect way to sum it up.

in North Fort Myers. They chatted with lead certified equine specialist Lea Haven of Naples Therapeutic Riding Center. The open house guests also had fun riding in a 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser—courtesy of Brian Dickerson, who coowns Grassy Run Ranch with Loretta Canfield.

This past November, the ranch celebrated its completion with a “locally flavored” evening open house. Attendees dined on catered food from LaBelle’s own Log Cabin BarB-Q restaurant and drank beer from Riptide Brewing Company in Naples.

From the delicious food and drinks, to cornhole toss and photo booth pictures, dancing under the pavilion and gathering around a bonfire, there was something for everyone. “It was such a relaxed evening and everyone seemed to kick back and just enjoy the property and each other,” Canfield says. “Many of our neighbors all showed up for the open house, as did many other LaBelle residents.”

Visitors enjoyed riding in a carriage pulled by a Clydesdale named Tally, who comes from Whispering Pines Clydesdales

It’s obvious that Grassy Run Ranch offers the kinds of things that country lovers love. Amenities include a 40-foot-

Clockwise from left: Open house guests mingled in the barn; Grassy Run Ranch's Cracker house has been lovingly remodeled; guests also enjoyed gathering around the bar, and cornhole toss was a favorite family activity at the event.

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PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE BY AVA ISABEL GRACE

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace


by-50-foot air-conditioned barn, with doors on opposite sides of the building; two 65-inch televisions; a bar area, and three bedrooms upstairs in the overhanging hayloft. The 35-foot-by-35-foot covered pavilion is adjacent to the barn and is perfect for dining, dancing or kicking back. There is also a recently renovated and modernized “Cracker house.” It has exposed interior beams, a wrap-around porch, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full kitchen, and is located just 200 feet from the barn. “We are so fortunate that we have this beautiful property to share with others who need an event venue for just about any occasion,” notes Canfield. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country. Tally the Clydesdale (above) pulled guests in a carriage. Below, Grassy Run Ranch also has a covered pavilion adjacent to its barn.

ROUNDUP

Grassy Run Ranch 3133 Dixie Road, LaBelle 239-223-4760, grassyrunranch.com Log Cabin Bar-B-Q 480 West Hickpochee Ave., LaBelle 863-675-3418, facebook.com/Log-Cabin-BBQLaBelle-FLRiptide Brewing Company 987 3rd Ave. North, Naples 239-228-6533, riptidebrewingcompany.com Whispering Pines Clydesdales 9920 West Bahia Vista Road, North Fort Myers 239-989-4782, whisperingpinesclydesdales.com Naples Therapeutic Riding Center 206 Ridge Drive, Naples 239-596-2988, naplestherapeuticridingcenter.org

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FLORIDA CHARM

Beach's The Marriott Stanton South hts hlig hig ign newly renovated des face. sur its on iod per o Miami's Art Dec

VINTAGE MIAMI THE CHARISMA OF ‘OLD FLORIDA’ iami. World-class traffic snarls. Concreteand-glass buildings with little character or respect for the past. Big-city hustle and bustle that frustrates resident and visitor alike. We all wonder: Has Miami lost the “Old Florida” charisma that made it the state’s top destination for well over a century? Not so fast, my friends. As it turns out, there are still a few places to go in Miami that harken back to the glory days of splendid sunshine, beautiful beaches and classic architecture. Enter the Marriott Stanton South Beach. It sits in the exclusive South of Fifth district of South Beach and is one of the only hotels on Ocean Drive with direct access to one of the most famous beaches in the world. Edged by a city park that provides shade and serenity—and a dog walk, because it’s one of the few Miami hotels that allows pets—the Stanton’s newly renovated design highlights the city’s Art Deco period on its surface. Yet it embraces a 1960s SoBe style with a fresh, airy color scheme inside. The individual balconies of the hotel’s 224 rooms offer views of the beach or downtown skyline, while the rooms envelop guests in soothing orange accents that create a cocoon of relaxation. Bathrooms feature a marble design that recalls

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Art Deco days—with the luxury amenities expected from a classic Marriott property. Built for business or leisure, its understated elegance gives guests the best of both worlds. Upon arriving at the Stanton, we entered the lobby through a porte-cochere that was warm and embracing yet trendy and stylish. An abundance of lush foliage and an eclectic art collection reminded us that we weren’t just in a big-city hotel, but rather one that valued its guests’ perception of the Florida of old. After checking in, we explored the hotel’s 11 stories of history—from the oceanfront heated pools with lounge seating and stunning greenery, to the beach with its private cabanas, to the Stanton’s new Spa and Fitness Center. We lingered, discussing which therapies to take advantage of: Hot Sea Shell Therapy? Swedish Full Body Massage? Then we vowed to spend at least a little time in the Fitness Center, working off our weekend’s libations … The Stanton features two distinct restaurants on site— Lolo’s Surf Cantina and Azabu Miami Beach. Lolo’s is a classic Baja-inspired eatery, featuring a menu rich in Mexican street food heritage. Fresh seafood highlights the cantina’s customizable options, but we were thrilled by the ribeye tacos and Torta Ahogada, a Mexican dip sandwich served with carnitas.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAMOND PR

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Written by: Dave Kelly


Add in the huge selection of craft and imported beer, a dazzling collection of specialty tequilas, and inventive signature drinks, and we left for the comfort of our rooms rather than the Fitness Center … The centerpiece of culinary experience on South Beach is Azabu, an authentic Japanese robata restaurant in the hotel’s lobby. This Michelin Star restaurant houses several concepts under its roof, including a full-service dining room, a hidden sushi counter, and a cocktail bar that showcases sake and Japanese whisky.

TOP TWO PHOTOS AND BOTTOM PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAMOND PR

Its sushi—huge portions, prepared in front of you—is the best on the beach. And many of the dishes in the main dining room are cooked in the robata style, a special grilling technique using Japanese white charcoal. We topped things off with Japanese Raindrop Cake served with brown sugar syrup (a nod to our Florida roots). We then visited a Miami icon—Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Located just south of downtown, this unique historical property is tucked away on a surprisingly secluded 50 acres bordering Biscayne Bay. Once known as “Villa Vizcaya,” the mansion was built from 1914 to 1922 and employed more than 10 percent of Miami’s population at the time. Many call it “the finest private home ever built in America.” Vizcaya was the dream of International Harvester vice president James Deering; it took the vision of three others to turn that dream into reality: F. Burrall Hoffman designed the buildings, Diego Suarez planned the gardens and artistic adviser Paul Chalfin brought the project to fruition. Vizcaya cost more than $26 million—close to $400 million in today’s dollars. Upon entering the main loggia, we discovered an amazingly unique home, built around a huge open courtyard. Originally open to the heavens, Vizcaya’s dozens of rooms look either into or over the courtyard.

From top, a room at the Stanton, featuring orange accents; some of Abazu’s myriad sushi options; a lifeguard stand on Miami Beach, and the view from a Stanton room's balcony.

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VIZCAYA’S FORMAL GARDENS, COMPLETED IN 1922, COMBINE ELEMENTS OF FRENCH AND ITALIAN DESIGN ADAPTED TO A SUBTROPICAL SETTING. Deering built the house to appear as an Italian villa from 300 years earlier, using antique Italian marble—but combining it with native coral rock to give it a unique south Florida feel. The house contains antique artworks and furnishings collected in Europe and the U.S., along with items specifically created for Vizcaya. The formal gardens, completed in 1922, combine elements of French and Italian design adapted to a subtropical setting. They contain geometric plantings, architectural structures, sculptures—and even shells from Florida and the Caribbean. Deering’s decision years ago to preserve these environments, and to build the Main House along

Biscayne Bay, distinguished him as one of the area’s early environmentalists. Today, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is an internationally renowned accredited museum and a National Historic Landmark. Its mission is to preserve the estate and to engage the public in learning through the arts, history and the environment. It was an amazing way to end our trip and find that there really is some “Old Florida” charisma left in Miami after all. Dave Kelly is a 45-year resident of Southwest Florida. His travel writing has taken him all over the world, but he always finds his way back to the Florida home that he loves.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (above) is tucked away on a surprisingly secluded 50 acres bordering Biscayne Bay. At left, Lolo's Surf Cantina, located at the Stanton, is a classic Baja-inspired eatery. At right, Vizcaya has one of Florida's first swimming pools.

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BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF DEEP SLEEP STUDIO; BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO BY DAVE KELLY

FLORIDA CHARM


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WILD FLORIDA

FLORIDA PANTHER THE ONLY KNOWN BREEDING POPULATION OF PUMA IN EASTERN U.S. Written by: William R. Cox

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he Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is a large tawny-colored cat. Adult males weigh up to 160 pounds and are 7 feet long with a very long tail. Females are smaller and weigh less than 100 pounds. It was listed as endangered in 1973 and is protected by state and federal law. In 1982, the Florida panther became the official Florida state mammal by popular vote of the Sunshine State’s schoolchildren. Historically, this puma subspecies was found throughout the southeastern U.S., including Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Today, the Florida panther is restricted to less than five percent of its historic range found in south Florida in a single breeding population. In the early 1970s, it was estimated that 20 panthers existed south of the Caloosahatchee River. In 2015, it was estimated that 230 panthers make up the breeding population in south Florida. Despite this increase, panther recovery is threatened by the increasing human population and development in panther habitat. Vehicle collisions appear to be the greatest cause of death to panthers—but road kills are the easiest form of death to document. Other forms of mortality include illegal shooting, diseases and parasites. These types of loss can be compensated for through reproduction and recruitment.

The complete removal of forested landscapes to agriculture monocultures, and expanding urbanization, cause permanent loss and has had the greatest impact of eliminating the panther from its former range. However, panthers may persist in areas of vegetable crops and improved pasture located in a mosaic of forested habitats. The interspersion of these types of habitats attracts and concentrates the panther’s primary prey—white-tailed deer and feral swine. Vegetation habitats used by Florida panthers include cabbage palm forests, pine flatwoods, tropical hammocks, live oak hammocks, cypress swamp, mixed swamp, Brazillion pepper thickets and sawgrass marsh. They select habitats that support prey such as the white-tailed deer and wild swine. The Florida panther can also subsist on smaller prey such as wild turkey, other birds, raccoons, armadillos and rabbits. The panthers will occasionally take livestock and pets— however, they are not like the western mountain lions that take livestock regularly and have attacked humans. There are no reported Florida panther attacks on humans in Florida. Panthers have large home ranges, including contiguous large areas of suitable habitat. Male home ranges average 275 square miles, while female home ranges are smaller. Prey density and habitat quality determines female home range size and possibly litter size. A female panther has to have quality habitat with abundant prey so she can be closer to her den and be able to feed her young. Male panthers are promiscuous and their home range territories may overlap several female home ranges to optimize breeding opportunities. Mating activities can happen at any time during the year—with most happening between November and March. Panthers are solitary animals most of their lives except when the female is rearing her young and during mating periods, when the copulating pair will spend a week together.

PANTHER MOVEMENTS ARE CONSISTENT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, WITH MOST ACTIVITY PEAKING NEAR SUNRISE AND SUNSET. 64

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Female gestation lasts 90 to 96 days and the spotted kittens are born in dense vegetation. This simple den is home for kittens for two months. They travel with their mother during hunts after 2 months up to 18 months, when they become independent and disperse on their own. Panther movements are consistent throughout the year, with most activity peaking near sunrise and sunset. During summer, they rest in the day and move at night; in winter they are more active during the day than in summer. Most panther sightings in Florida are south of the Caloosahatchee River. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, or FWC, has reported that several male panthers have been documented moving through north Florida—with one male traveling as far as Georgia.

PHOTO BY WILLIAM R. COX

The FWC also reported that a female panther had produced a liter of kittens north of the Caloosahatchee River in March 2017. It is critical for the Florida panther to expand its range and its population throughout Florida to prevent this wilderness species from going extinct. William R. Cox has been working professionally as a wildlife biologist, educator and nature photographer for more than 40 years. His passion is to entertain, inspire and educate others in the beauty of nature and the art of photography. See more of his work on Facebook and on his website, williamrcoxphotography.com.

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PICTURE PERFECT

Photo by: Joe LeDuc

Photo by: Jennifer L. Diaz

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>>>>

HIGH IN THE PINES AN EAGLE HAS LANDED— AND STAYS LONG ENOUGH FOR A PHOTO

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ne summer afternoon, an eagle landed in a pine tree in my backyard in Middleburg, Florida. I slowly walked over to take this amazing photo before it flew away. Photography is a hobby for me. It’s something I do in my spare time and I’ve done so for about eight years. My photography consists of mostly nature and outdoor shots. I have a Facebook page showcasing my photos—called “Nature’s Artwork.” I even use the camera to make time-lapse photography of the night sky. This particular photo was taken with a Canon T2i , using a 18-200mm Canon lens.

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SIXTHGENERATION HOMESTEADER 11-YEAR-OLD CAPTURED BY HER MOTHER’S LENS

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y name is Jennifer L. Diaz and I am the owner of the J. Diaz Designs Photography business. Photography has always been a passion of mine, and continued to grow as our family grew. This is my 11-year-old daughter, Alejandra, and the photograph was taken on our family farm in north-central Florida. Alejandra is the sixth generation to be raised on the original homestead. The photo taken with a Canon Rebel T6. F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

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RURAL RIVERFRONT LIVING IN LABELLE HOME, TROPICAL SETTING ARE ‘AWESOME—AND THEN SOME’! Written by: Sherri Denning

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ural living in LaBelle, Florida, means not only acreage and wildlife, but also the Intracoastal Waterway—with scenic views, great fishing and fun boating! Now on the market is this riverfront beauty, located at 4960 Fort Denaud Road in the Fort Denaud area. Enjoy incredible river scenery from the nearly 1-acre home site,

and also enjoy being on the river—facilitated by having a great dock with a lift for your boat. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom concrete-block home has a Galvalume roof and boasts a three-car garage with an oversized concrete driveway—all in a tropical setting of xeriscaping and palm trees. Features includes a “cook’s

A "dream come true" house. Reward yourself by coming home to your own "resort," with all the luxury you need!

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PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF SOUTHERN HERITAGE REAL ESTATE

THE HOMESTEAD


ENJOY INCREDIBLE RIVER SCENERY FROM THE NEARLY 1-ACRE HOME SITE, AND ALSO ENJOY BEING ON THE RIVER—FACILITATED BY HAVING A GREAT DOCK WITH A LIFT FOR YOUR BOAT.

LOR RIID DAACC O OU UNTRYM NTRYMAAG GAAZZIIN NEE..CC O OM M FFLO

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A lush, tropical setting with breathtaking views. Front-row tickets to "scenes of nature" from almost anywhere in this magnificent home. Wake up to it, dine by it, simply relax —and enjoy.

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PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF SOUTHERN HERITAGE REAL ESTATE

THE HOMESTEAD


dream kitchen” with breakfast room, “tons” of living space, splitbedroom floor plan and vaulted ceilings. Views are enhanced by the large expanses of glass throughout the home. An adjoining lot is available for sale, which would be the perfect site for a guesthouse or detached workshop building.

This property is “awesome—and then some”! It is offered by Sherri Denning, broker/owner of Southern Heritage Real Estate in LaBelle, Florida. Contact Sherri at 863-673-0829 or 863-6754500, or visit soland.com.

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MEET FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE HUBBARD AND KELLEY REFLECT ON CHANGES AND TRADITIONS

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uperstar country music duo Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, from Monroe, Georgia, and Brian Kelley, from Ormond Beach, Florida, recently spoke with Florida Country Magazine. FGL, which “brings a fresh combination of eclectic beats and expressive lyrics to the genre throughout their music,” enjoyed answering questions to share with readers.

FCM: You’ve had a historic 48-week run on the Hot Country Songs chart for “Meant to Be.” How does that feel? TH: “I’m so honored to be a writer and an artist on this song. It’s mind-blowing to think how many weeks it’s been at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart … I’m thankful to just be one of the many people who put so much energy and effort into making music history with this song. Thank you, Bebe [Rexha] and everyone on team ‘Meant to Be.’ Now it’s time to get back in the studio and try to break the new record. Let’s go!”  BK: “The power of music continues to blow our minds, and we are extremely humbled and thankful our song has spent the better part of a year at the top. The connection we feel with our fans through our music is extra special with this song. Bebe and her camp were a blast to work with, and we are grateful for all the hard work everyone put in to make this record happen.”    FCM: Your style of country music is influenced by many other styles of music. What’s your favorite collaboration to date? Who’d you love to collaborate with in the future? TH: “Not sure if I can pick a favorite … We have been really fortunate to collaborate with so many incredible artists. And we’d love to do something with JT or Bruno Mars—just going to put that out there!”

Florida Country Magazine: How have things changed for FGL during the last six years? Brian Kelley: “Wow, it’s crazy to think how much everything has changed. We’ve had so many of our dreams come true, traveled around the world, fell in love, got married and Tyler became a dad. But at the same time, so much is the same. We are always pushing ourselves to be creative, write as much as we can and follow our passions.”

FCM: Is there anything FGL always does before going on stage? Tyler Hubbard: “Since our first run of shows while driving around the Southeast in BK’s Tahoe, we would circle up with our band for a prayer before taking the stage. We’ve continued this tradition ever since.” FCM: What’re some items you request to have backstage and for whom? BK: “Old Camp for sure. It gets the vibe going just right.”

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Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley

PHOTO BY STILL VIKA

STARS & GUITARS presented by


PHOTO BY RYAN SMITH

Florida Georgia Line

FCM: What was your first impression of Mason Ramsey when you met him? BK: “A really freakin’ talented kid. Aside from his great voice, he can write songs and seeing that level of talent at that age is special.” FCM: What’s your favorite song, other than FGL’s, that’s on the radio today? TH: “We’ve been digging the new Eminem album.”   FCM: What’s the craziest thing a fan has given you? BK: “We actually got a puppy dog. We were pretty sure it’s a Jack Russell and pit bull mix. His name’s Red.” 

FCM: What’s the craziest thing you’ve been asked to autograph—and did you? TH: “I know this sounds crazy, but people want us to sign their foreheads!” FCM: Have you ever written a song in Brian’s treehouse? If so, which one(s)? TH: “Yeah, we’ve written a ton in BK’s treehouse—such an inspiring, good vibe. Several of the songs on our last album, Dig Your Roots, were written there.” FCM: If you weren’t country stars, what’d you be doing today? BK: “Songwriting, for sure. We both moved to

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STARS & GUITARS Nashville to write songs and that is still first and foremost in everything we do.”

FCM: What’s the best advice you’ve been given and from whom? TH: “Gotta give my wife, Hayley, props here. Going in to the writing session with Bebe not totally sure of what to expect, she said to me, ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be.’ That sparked the song idea and the rest is history!” FCM: What’s one thing you haven’t done that you’d love to do? BK: “Super Bowl halftime show!” TH: “Agree with BK. Super Bowl halftime is at the top of the bucket list!”

FCM: Now that FGL’s come out with Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey, can you share a great recipe for it? BK: “We love it on the rocks or in our version of a mule:” 1½ oz. Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey Dash agave or maple syrup ½ fresh peach (or strawberries if peaches aren’t ripe) Dash Angostura bitters Club soda or ginger beer Mint sprig or peach slice, for garnish Combine first four ingredients in cocktail shaker; muddle gently to crush fruit. Strain into Mason jar or tumbler filled with crushed ice. Top with club soda or ginger beer; add garnish.

WE ARE ALWAYS PUSHING OURSELVES to be creative, write as much as we can and follow our passions.

FCM: What can your fans look forward to in 2019? TH: “New music! We’ve been in the studio working on our next album. It will be coming at the top of next year and can’t wait to share it.”

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PHOTO BY ROBBY KLEIN

FCM: Our slogan is “Farming Seeds of Family Traditions.” When you think of that, what family traditions will you always treasure and carry forward? BK: “The best holiday tradition is having a big Thanksgiving dinner with my family and one that I’ll for sure carry forward.” TH: “Putting up the Christmas tree with my family. It’s one I look forward to every year!”


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THE CULINARY CRACKER

WHIPPING IT UP IN YOUR KITCHEN INGREDIENTS 8 chicken legs and thighs (skin on) Kosher salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 teaspoon dry thyme Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 onion, chopped 2 carrots, sliced 8 ounces sliced mushrooms ½ cup dry white wine 2 cups chicken broth 2 cups tomatoes, diced 8 black olives, pitted 3 tablespoons drained capers

Every issue of Florida Country Magazine is filled with easy, delicious and seasonal recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

CHICKEN CACCIATORE WITH MUSHROOMS AND OLIVES

PREPARATION Preheat large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place chicken with skin side down. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle olive oil over chicken. Cook roughly 5 minutes per side until skin is crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a dish with skin side up and set aside. Reduce skillet heat to medium-high. Drizzle skillet with olive oil. Add garlic, onion, carrots, mushrooms, black olives and thyme and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add white wine, chicken broth, tomatoes and capers; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil while scraping bottom of pan. Place chicken in skillet, single layer with skin side up. Cover with lid and simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Yields 8


INGREDIENTS 7 tomatoes eese 1 cup shredded cheddar ch 1 cup water 1 cup instant rice 1 pound lean ground beef 1 yellow onion, diced 1 clove garlic, diced taste 1 teaspoon garlic salt, or to te tas Ground black pepper, to ce sau 2 15-ounce cans tomato

STUFFED TOMATOES Serves 7

PREPARATION h. Cut es. Grease 9x13 baking dis Preheat oven to 350 degre lp to pu er nsf op out pulp; tra tops from tomatoes and sco in ter wa il Bo tops of tomatoes. a bowl and chop. Reserve tes nu mi 5 t ou er. Let stand ab saucepan; add rice and cov m-high at large skillet over mediu He . until rice absorbs water and ed wn bro til to 7 minutes, un heat. Cook and stir beef 5 garlic, , ion on e, ees cooked rice, ch d Ad . ase gre ain Dr ly. crumb add o skillet with ground beef; garlic salt and pepper int re to a xtu mi ing tomato sauce. Br reserved tomato pulp and wedllo ho Set d. mer until thickene boil; reduce heat and sim ed, sir de If re. xtu dish; fill with mi tes out tomatoes into baking nu mi 20 t ou ab tomatoes. Bake place tomato tops on filled t. ho der and filling is or until tomatoes are ten

INGREDIENTS s 8 small shooter-style glasse 1 can tomato soup 8 bread slices eese 8 slices sharp cheddar ch e 4 tablespoons mayonnais 1 cup grated Parmesan PREPARATION til desired Heat soup on stovetop un t on medium lle temperature. Preheat ski yonnaise on ma on heat. Spread ½ tablespo rmesan. Pa th wi slice of bread; sprinkle skillet. in wn do Place mayonnaise side of bread. top on e Place two slices of chees rmesan on Repeat mayonnaise and Pa mayonnaise ce pla another slice of bread; sandwich ok Co e. side up on top of chees golden is ad bre until cheese melts and sts and cru off t Cu brown on both sides. o 4 pieces. int y all gon cut each sandwich dia grilled-cheese Repeat steps for remaining nly among 8 eve p sandwiches. Divide sou ce 1 sandwich Pla s. sse small shooter-style gla ve immediately. triangle in each glass. Ser

GRILLED CHEESE SHOOTERS Serves 8

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THE CULINARY CRACKER

BAKED CAPRESE CHICKEN Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 4 chicken breasts Kosher salt, to taste Ground black pepper, to taste 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon basil 1 medium tomato (8 thin slices) Âź cup sun-dried tomato strips in oil 4 mozzarella cheese slices 12 basil leaves, divided 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons brown sugar

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PREPARATION (not completely Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a pocket about ž through n with salt, pepper chicke Season . breast n chicke through) thickest side of each chicken; rub oil and dried herbs. Pour 1 teaspoon sun-dried tomato oil over tomato slices, 2 2 with breast n chicke each Fill and herb mixture on chicken. leaves. Seal teaspoons sun-dried tomato strips, 1 mozzarella slice and 3 basil ried tomato sun-d ons teaspo 2 Heat . inside filling with 3 to 4 toothpicks to keep es on each side oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; fry 2 minut r and brown vinega ic balsam garlic, mix , cooks n until golden brown. As chicke r, stirring simme a to Bring n. chicke d aroun re sugar in small bowl. Pour mixtu oven pan and pour occasionally until glaze slightly thickens. Transfer chicken to d thoroughly and mixture into pan. Bake 15 minutes or until chicken is cooke juices. pan with e drizzl and plate cheese melts. Remove toothpicks;

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INGREDIENTS 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 12 ounces garlic-he rb marinade 16 fresh basil leaves 1 large tomato, thin ly sli 4 slices provolone ch ced eese ¼ cup Parmesan, fre shly grated PREPARATION Cut chicken breasts horizontally withou t cutting completely in half. Open chicken brea sts; place chicken and marin ade into large reseala ble plastic bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prehea t oven to 500 degrees. Put op ened chicken breasts on broiler pan. Place 4 basil lea ves on bottom of ea ch chicken breast. Place 2 to 3 tomato slices over basil; top with provolone slice. Fo ld over top half of each chicken breast. Bake 15 min utes; flip chicken an d ba more minutes. Rem ove from oven; sprin ke 15 kle with Parmesan. Return to oven; bake until cheese melts, about 2 to 3 minutes .

TOMATO-BASIL CHEESY CHICKEN Serves 4

CAPRESE SALAD Serves 4

INGREDIENTS ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil sil ¼ cup freshly chopped ba lls 1 pound mozzarella ba Kosher salt, to taste taste Freshly ground pepper, to atoes, halved tom 2 cups cherry or grape r ¼ cup balsamic vinega PREPARATION bowl. Add Combine oil and basil in t and pepper. sal th mozzarella; season wi 30 minutes in st lea at Cover; marinate for es and vinegar to refrigerator. Add tomato Season with more mixture; toss to combine. . Serve immediately. salt and pepper, if needed

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Profile for Florida Country Magazine

Florida Country Magazine - February/March 2019  

Florida, a state that is known for its sunshine and beaches, when there is so much more to this magnificent land. Florida Country Magazine...

Florida Country Magazine - February/March 2019  

Florida, a state that is known for its sunshine and beaches, when there is so much more to this magnificent land. Florida Country Magazine...