VIP Destin Magazine - August 2021

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proudly made in the USA

Available in Destin, exclusively at Emerald Lady Jewelry 34940 Emerald Coast Parkway Suite 161 • Destin, FL 32541 850-424-3823 •

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Voted Best Jewelry Store Six Years in a Row!

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BETWEEN DESTIN AND SANDESTIN 13390 Highway 98 West | Destin, FL (850) 650-2262

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It is important to have your chimney checked to be sure caps are tight and fit correctly, chase covers are in good condition, and in general the chimney is watertight. Maintaining a leak-free chimney is essential, as water leaks can cause damage to your home.

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contents events 16 Smoke on the Coast BBQ and Fireworks Festival 29 Raise a Glass - Francis Roy Agency Celebrates 5 Years 37 The Great American Cookout 41 Volkswagen ID.4 & Taos Launch Party 50 VIP Destin Magazine July Cover Reveal Party 58 Niceville Chamber Networking Breakfast

on the cover Bob & Teresa Halverson, Deb Nissley Photography by Zhalman Harris at Raise a Glass Francis Roy Agency Celebrates 5 Years

Volume XVIII • Issue VIII

departments 21 26 33 45 48 53 56 61 67 74

Destin Style #trending Adventure Out Coastal Cuisine Swizzle Save the Date May We Suggest Locale Give Care Share I Am Destin

features 14 VIP Destin Ambassadors 72 Upcoming Event Profile

VIP Destin Magazine Staff Publisher Greg Alexander

Art Director Priscilla Atkins

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Graphic Design Brian Goins

Advertising Stephanie Alvarez Kristin Moffitt Kevin O’Rourke Verla Price Jeff Watson

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Nikki Briere Zhalman Harris Clare Lee Verla Price Anna Stockton Kristina Wright

Content Creator Anna Stockton

VIP Founder Jeff Watson August 2021 | 11

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letter from the Associate Publisher Welcome to the August issue of VIP Destin Magazine -- and to summer. Every winter we wait for warmer weather, talk about it, plan to enjoy the water, sand, and natural beauty of the Emerald Coast, then we are blasted with a heatwave that sends us scurrying back inside to the air conditioners. July was hot, and it looks like August will be hotter! In this issue, we feature some ways to beat the heat. Pages are fi lled with places to relax and pamper yourselves, whether you go to a spa or create your own quiet Zen at home. Fortunately, Destin is fi lled with numerous day spas, places to sip wine, relax and work on the inner you. So if you live in the Destin reading area you should be able to find a place close by to indulge in at least a day of self-preservation. However, if money is short or time is of the essence, we have a few other ways for you to enjoy peace. One of the fantastic things is that you can create a spa-like experience in your own settings and take care of yourself at home. During the COVID lockdowns, people learned ways to turn their homes, yards, and gardens into their own serene getaways. Destin Style on page 21 gives us some great ideas on Homestyle Self Care. Swizzle will tempt you to leave the wine glass in the kitchen as you follow these recipes and use vegetables to put a healthy twist on your vodka drink. And Coastal Cuisine introduces us to a healthy apple spinach salad. My favorite read this month was Adventure Out -- learning of Florida’s freshwater springs, some of which are close enough for a day trip. I may hook up the RV and enjoy a few of these this fall. After a long absence of VIP Cover Reveal parties due to COVID, Auston’s on 98 hosted the first one this year. The evening was a joyous reunion of clients and friends of the magazine. VIP Destin photographers also snapped pics this month of people enjoying gatherings such as the 5-Year Celebration of the Frances Roy Agency and the Destin Chamber Great American Cookout. It is my pleasure to present Kay Phelan as “I Am Destin” this month. Kay is a well-known name in VIP Destin Magazine as she regularly attends events, promotes functions for her clients, and is a contributing photographer and writer. If you know of a non-profit or charity holding an event you would like to see featured in VIP Destin Magazine, please call me. It is our mission to support as many non-profit causes as possible. Thank YOU for supporting VIP Destin Magazine; please be kind, courteous, and shop local.

Associate Publisher 850-502-7970



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Introducing Ambassadors The Destin area has expanded so broadly over the years and each different part of the beach and bay, the different villages, and neighborhoods have so many activities and events - both large and small. As a publication for all of Destin, we want to know about and be a part of as many of those activities and events as possible. In order to do so, we are putting together a small, exclusive, and diverse group of VIP Destin Magazine Ambassadors that will help us to know about more of these small events, activities, and achievements that may be transpiring. For our VIP Ambassadors, we selected fans that have supported and helped us for many years. We will be introducing and announcing our newly formed VIP Ambassador team over the course of the next few issues. For this initial announcement, we are happy to share that Lea and Joe Capers will be the first to join the team of VIP Destin Magazine Ambassadors. Lea and Joe have been very involved in our success over the years and have been a huge champion of all that we do by attending our events, requesting event coverage for the events and charities they support, and by showing up to support other businesses and causes in the area. Look for them at upcoming events (like you could miss them) where they will be passing out magazines, talking about the causes we promote, and listening to you about the things you want to see more of in VIP Destin Magazine.

Outdoor & Adventure SPECIAL FEATURES

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VIP Destin at Destin Commons

photos & story by Zhalman Harris

Ryan & Kathy Price

Lexus & Vatema Ivy


he 10th Annual Smoke on the Coast BBQ & Fireworks Festival, powered By Step One Automotive Group, took place at Destin Commons on July 3. Despite the sprinkles, BBQ and fireworks lovers made their way to the grounds of the Commons to enjoy, indulge, and vote for their favorite BBQ and teams. Guests who attended the event not only enjoyed finger licking BBQ samples from over 15 area restaurants and BBQ groups and an exciting firework show, they also enjoyed live music from the groups Heritage and Tobacco Road Band. Participating Barbecue teams and their partnering charities included: Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida partnering with Pallet Bar and Grill, Dog-Harmony partnering with Cafe Rico, Destin Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast who partnered with Smoke ‘N Whiskey BBQ, Habitat for Humanity with partner Construction Crew, Children in Crisis, Inc. Florida flexed their skills with B&C Fire Safety, Gulf Coast Council Boy Scouts of America partnered with Smok’n Scouts BBQ Crew, Air Force Enlisted Village soared with their partner Knife’s Edge, while the Rotary Club of Destin came strong with their own team. Emerald Coast Science Center partnered with Bow Tie BBQ and Catering, United for a Good Cause Inc. hung with Conexion Media Group, Niceville Valparaiso Rotary Club partnered with its members, The Taylor Haugen Foundation teamed up with Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican, The Implant Truth Survivors Non-Profit came truthfully partnering with Chef Matthew Gourmet, while Healing Hoof Steps partnered with Market 21, and Panhandle Animal Welfare Society partnered with Smokin’ In The Square BBQ. Judge’s Pick: 1st Place - Dog-Harmony / Cafe Rico 2nd Place - Emerald Coast Science Center / Bow Tie BBQ & Catering Most Spirited: 1st Place - Children in Crisis, Inc. Florida / B&C Fire Safety 2nd Place - Healing Hoof Steps / Market 21

Maryjean Ross & Ken Hair

Julia Vanover & Lorissa Tenzycki 16

People’s Choice: 1st Place - Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida / Pallet Bar and Grill 2nd Place - Habitat for Humanity / Construction Crew

Clare Bassett, Fiona Bown, Daniel Soto, Nancy Bown, Jamie & Josh Schmidt


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Mary Kilgelion, Stephen Wright, Bill Costa & Chris Eckert

Angie Smith & David Switzer

Rita Cummins, Leslie Mickles, Jermaine Scott, Shervin Rassa & Crystal Mays

Matt Morgan & Heidi Gonzalez

Bobby Parker & Britney Dijkhuizen

Brooke Johnson & Bill Head

Shantelle Dedicke & Hilaree Durso

Eric Navarre, Wayne Paul & Greg Dedicke August 2021 | 17

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VIP Destin at Smoke on the Coast

Adam & Chris Jarvis

Nina Leigh & Parker Dewrell

Krista Padgett, Mike & Ashley Bauchwitz

Dave Rossi, Leslie Forskman & Meilina Graves

Nicole Harttell & Barbara Palmgren

Lockwood Wernet, Shane Moody & Bryan Osborn 18

Dan & Jennifer Poulin

Jessica Lockhart & Arika Wilson

Sadie Chip, Melissa Heath & Kari Painter


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Aerosmith Campbell & Bianca Garcia

food and spirits Established in 2020, Bitterroot Food and Spirits is Destin’s premiere establishment for high-end cuisine and cocktails. Thoughtfully crafted and always fresh, we aim to lead the industry by example. No exceptions, no compromises.

Zakina Judd & Leslie Mickles

Hours of Operation: Dine In or Take Away Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Monday-Sunday, 4 p.m. Small Bites: Daily from 2:30-4 p.m. Happy Hour: Daily 3-6 p.m.; $5 Old Fashioned Mondays Ladies’ Night Every Thursday

850-460-8881 4463 Commons Dr West STE A | Destin, FL 32541

THANK YOU FOR VOTING US BEST NEW BUSINESS! Back: Jason Belcher & Michael Burgess Front: Lori Leath Smith, Shannah Hanks August 2021 | 19

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Homestyle Self-Care story by Anna Stockton


elf-care is a big trend these days-and hopefully one that is here to stay. It encourages you to take a step back from the craziness of daily life and take care of yourself -- mind, body and soul. After all, how can you be your best self and take care of others if you don’t take care of you? The good news is that you don’t have to be at a spa to feel pampered and regroup, you can do it at home with a few of these spalike styles. So, when you’re sitting in your bathrobe with a mud mask on your face watching reality tv, don’t feel bad, just pour yourself another glass of wine, it’s all in the name of self-care.

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Rockin’ the Robe

Let’s talk robes, and not just any robes -- soft, opulent, lush bathrobes. You don’t have to be at a fancy spa to feel like you’re being pampered when you invest in a good quality robe. The kind that’s so fluffy and comfortable, you finally understand those people who keep on their lounge clothes when they’re shopping at (ahem) certain retail establishments. I’m kidding, no one will ever understand that, but a nice warm robe will definitely make you want to extend your quiet, self-care time and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Capping It All Off

This one’s for all the ladies (or men who take great care with their hair), I’m talking shower caps, yeah you read that right, shower caps. As a curly haired chickadee, the fact is, sometimes I’m rocking those curls and some days I look like an alpaca after a long hike in the Andes. Many factors go into good hair days, such as, humidity, quality of hair product, humidity, Mercury’s retrograde motion and also…. humidity. So, if all the factors line up in your favor and your hair is “killin it,” you don’t, under any circumstances, let it get wet. Extend the life of your ‘do with a cute shower cap.

Slip Into Something Comfortable

A good pair of soft, fluffy slippers are not only luxurious, they’re also functional. Who wants to walk across a cold floor in the middle of the night? Good slippers are a good investment, but a word to the wise, if have a pup who loves to “bond” with you by eating your slippers, maybe invest in a couple pair of ones you love. Signed-the owner of many singular slippers.

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Heart and Soule photos provided by Sarah Soule Webb | story by Anna Stockton


arah Soule Webb has always had a passion for the water. Growing up on a tree lined street in Pensacola, where the bayou meets the bay, she was happily surrounded by water. Summers spent boating, swimming and playing in the water would unknowingly become her inspiration. Under the guidance of her artistic mother, Sarah was always passionate about painting, she says she always enjoyed painting “like most kids do” but she never outgrew it. Even taking a painting course with her mother at the local community college at the age of 11. Her big break into painting professionally came purely by accident, literally. After having a minor fender bender in the family’s driveway Sarah’s father decided her punishment should be to paint fish on pieces of wood to help decorate the old Pensacola Bay fishing bridge, which her father owned. Her work caught the eye of a family friend and she sold her first piece of art… 15 years old. Sarah continued to paint throughout college and into her career as a dietician until about five years ago when she decided a career move was in order and started painting full time. Now, in her studio on the third floor of the old Sacred Heart hospital in Pensacola, her passion and talent are evident. With large and small canvasses, in various stages of completion and her signature abstract and almost whimsical backgrounds on display. She shows me a painting in progress, a little girl walking through a tidepool, her reflection shown in the ripples of the water. Another painting she’s working on is an underwater scene, which she considers to be her niche, three children in swimsuits, sitting on pool noodles. A simple scene that perfectly captures a moment, a summertime memory. While talent is, of course, a necessity, Sarah also stresses that effort and practice have played a large part in her artistic journey. She’s not the same artist she was yesterday as she is today, her paintings and skills have evolved along the way and she loves looking back at her older paintings and seeing the differences. Sarah says she still can’t believe she gets to paint every day. However, she does strive to keep a balance in her work. She still does personal pieces, moments and pictures that inspire her, but she also paints pieces that are commissioned. Clients who give her an idea or vision and she brings these visions to life on beautiful canvasses. For more information on Sarah or to speak with her regarding her paintings, please contact her at

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VIP Destin at 3rd Planet Brewery

Raise a Glass

Francis Roy Agency Celebrates 5 Years photos & story by Zhalman Harris


ecause many have continued to trust the Frances Roy Agency since 2016, the agency has solidified their presence in the community, where they have operated and served for 5 years; giving them a reason to celebrate their success and growth. On June 30, the team of the local creative firm and solutionist agency, Frances Roy, celebrated with family, friends, and clients at the 3rd Planet Brewery in Niceville. “Our strategic approach for branding, marketing, content creation, campaign building, and public relations needs have kept us around for 5 years, and the more we deliver those messages in creative ways on traditional and digital platforms, we are certain we will be around longer,” said Frances Roy’s Senior Director of Content and Marketing, Hillaree Durso Frances Roy’s president and chief creative officer, Shantelle Dedicke, raised a glass thanking her team, their clients, and the support of the local community. “Much has changed for the agency since 2016, but our goal remains the same, to be the BEST full-service brand and marketing agency in our area, key performance indicators measure our business, many of them nonhuman and intangible, but our true metric of success was palpable and present when our family, friends, and clients gathered to raise a glass with us in celebration of our agency’s first five years. I am so proud of our team, and I’ll never forget the way this community embraced us”.

Shantelle Dedicke, Todd & Chris Wilkenson, Rita Cummins & Nicole Lockwood

Shantelle & Greg Dedicke

Anne Hinze & Catie Sprague

Gail Pelto & Shervin Rassa

Brooke & Austin Davis with Indy

August 2021 | 29

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VIP Destin at Raise a Glass

Chris & Todd Wilkenson

Nicole Lockwood & Rita Cummins

Anne Hinze, Maxine Orange, Demetrius Fuller, Jason Linblad & Melanie Moore

Bella Warner & Greg Dedicke

Jeff & Susan Berry

Pam Coplan & Hilaree Durso

Bob & Teresa Halverson, Deb Nissley 30

Norely Soto & Rachel Valesquez

Tammy & Kevin Bowyer

Dee Clark, Maryann Ruckel & Dora Cawood


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David & Janae Erickson

Maggie White, Cali Hlvac & Shantelle Dedicke



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Ann Harris, Janie Harris Schmidt & Nancy Bown

Rich & Shawn Tomasell, Jason Lindblad


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7/29/21 2:13 PM


Florida’s Fountains of Youth story by Anna Stockton


n case you haven’t heard, Florida has a bit of a “reputation” among the other states in this great country of ours. “Florida Man,” sharks, alligators, the media, and okay, Floridians in general really don’t do us any favors in the normalcy department. In fact, recently a cousin who lives in the Pacific Northwest asked me with great concern what it’s really like living in Florida, she said on the news it looks “wild and crazy.” I told her once you get used to wrestling alligators on a daily basis, it’s pretty darn nice. Despite our reputation, we all know Florida has a diverse ecosystem, stunning beaches, and some of the most pure, clean and beautiful natural water supplies in these special “fountains of youth” known as our Florida springs. The good news is you don’t have to go far to experience the wonders of our springs and while you may spot an alligator or two, wrestling is definitely discouraged -no matter how much Fireball you’ve had.

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So what exactly are the Florida springs? Well, when the landmass we now call Florida emerged from the sea, the porous limestone, thousands of feet thick in some places, trapped the sea water. This is now known as the Florida aquifer. The exposed limestone collects freshwater while the rock below holds the saltwater. Over the years, rainwater and freshwater formed cavities and tunnels, all leading to a giant reservoir under the surface. In some areas the crust is thin and the water bubbles to the surface. These form our Florida springs. Florida boasts over 600 freshwater springs, some go mostly unnoticed due to their small size while others are huge, big enough to feed a major river. Setting up camp around springs isn’t a new thing, only instead of doing it for a fun-filled weekend, early humans gathered around springs for more basic necessities like … well, food and water. They chowed down on mammoth ground sloths, mastodon, and beaver. These days, divers in the springs can find anything from bones and teeth to stone-age tools used by these earliest spring dwellers. Two of the more popular Florida springs are a bit of a drive but definitely worth it. One of the original springs turned tourist attractions is Silver Springs. While it was already popular with tourists for the clear views of fish, turtles, and other wildlife, a man named Hullman Jones took it one step further and put in a glass viewing box at the bottom of a canoe and started the “glassbottom boat” phenomenon that people still go to Silver Springs to experience today. The other spring turned tourist attraction is Weeki Wachee, a spring with a twist. Not only does this spring have all the wildlife viewing of its fellow springs, it also has real life -- mermaids? That’s right, in the park’s theater, you’ll experience the spring’s own mermaids putting on an impressive show all underwater. This, along with roaming wildlife and boat tours makes a fun and unique experience. You might even get lucky and spot Florida’s own sea cow, the manatee.

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Locally we have our own spring gems. Ponce De Leon springs in Holmes County is an aquifer fed spring that’s more like a big swimming pool. The water stays at a steady 68 degrees and is about three feet deep in most places but does go all the way to 25 feet deep, although snorkeling is allowed only in the deeper areas. There’s also fishing, hiking and picnic tables available to make a day of your adventure. Of course, wildlife is aplenty at Ponce De Leon springs, including those “danger noodles,” the poisonous snakes, so watch your step. Another local spring is Morrison Springs, this spring is close to Ponce De Leon but in Walton County. This spring is a popular diving spot with a 250-feet in diameter spring pool that reaches depths of 300 feet (yikes!) and produces about 48 million gallons of crystal-clear water a day! Along with wildlife viewing, Morrison Springs also offers a boardwalk, diving dock and a boat ramp. So let people keep talking, we won’t be able to hear them over the sound of our own laughter as we have the time of our lives in Florida’s own fountains of youth. These underwater gardens really are yet another reason to love Florida, so get out and enjoy them.

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Amanda Hurd

Team Leader-Realtor 850-375-3570

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Ashley Turner

Buyer’s Specialist 850-226-2102

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VIP Destin at Destin Chamber of Commerce

Dion Moniz, Tamy Growth & Ashley Bowen

Kevin Bowyer & Shane Moody

Muri & Tim Kersanac photos & story by Zhalman Harris


n July 13, the Destin Chamber held its 8th Annual Great American Cookout sponsored by Emerald Coast Title Services and Community Bank. More than 100 members gathered at the Chamber to enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs hot off the grill and to hear from their nonprofit partner Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. Destin City Council Candidates Jim Bagby and John Green were on site to answer questions related to the July 20 special election. Candidate Bobby Wagner was invited, but unable to attend due to previous commitments. Community Bank, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Emerald Coast Title Services, and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast donated door prizes for the event. Bonnie Perry & Toby Ann Williams

Allison Hand, Gale Colebourne & Rachel Spencer

Lindsey Polk, Elizabeth Spies & Aisha Haider August 2021 | 37

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VIP Destin at The Great American Cookout

Myla Martinez & Courtney Dollson

Jennifer & Jim Bagby

Chris Wheeler & Mackenzie Mainland

Tera Keister & Courtney Bocock

Peggy Moravec & Timmie Riley

Jenni Brunson & Denise Kendust

Rebecca Picnic & Cindy Russell

Fred Fenn & Cassy Dejulio 38

Teresa Halverson & Ashley Bailey

Brian Keister & Kevin O’Rourke


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VIP Destin at Volkswagen of Fort Walton Beach

Launch Party photos & story by Kristina Wright

Maureen Bierman & Kari Painter


tep One Automotive Group hosted their launch party for the new 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 and 2022 Volkswagen Taos. Treasured customers, clients, family, and friends were all invited to experience the announcement of the new arrivals at Volkswagen of Fort Walton Beach on July 8. Red, white and blue balloons adorned the showroom, while just through the windows, guests were able to see two covered cars. Throughout the evening, everyone enjoyed food, refreshments and an opportunity to enter for the chance to win a $500 gift card. Maureen Bierman started the announcements with opening remarks, and introduced Fernando Arellano, as well as many other key members of the Volkswagen of Fort Walton team. Each member touched on the success of the company, community contributions, team efforts, and the powerhouse that runs the entire program. The presentation ended with a grand exit, while Step One Automotive Team members opened the glass doors, took off the car covers, and encouraged everyone to take a good look at the new 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 and 2022 Volkswagen Taos, now available at the Volkswagen of Fort Walton location.

Santiago Gordillo, T.J. Ferraiolo & George Katsaros

Victoria Taylor & Fladiana Durand

Stu Booker & Fernando Arellano

Dave Parisot, Janey & Dick Rynearson

Ian Fisher, Eddie Gilchrist, Josh O’ Conner, Derrick Bierau & James Bondi August 2021 | 41

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VIP Destin at Volkswagen ID.4 & Taos Launch Party

Alana & Aaron Tiller, Timothy Jones

Ken Whitehead, Danielle Payne & David Scruggs

Nick Gianake, Bud Lubben, Gayle Shelton & Jamey Mattern

Carley Linder, Aerika Wardrip & Darra Flanagan

Jeremie Leach & Jared Johnston 42

Tiffany & Sean Kingrey

Karen Helms, Brian & Julie Lambert

CJ Davis, Kristy Romance, Michelle Los & Kilane Hacia


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“Strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach...”


story by Anna Stockton

fter a recent bout with anemia I had to put myself on a diet of iron rich foods like pumpkin seeds, organic red meat, and ugh … spinach. Yes! I was going to eat spinach on purpose, not because it was on a pizza, not because it was hidden in a delicious spinach and artichoke dip, and not because it was cooked into an omelette and washed down with a mimosa. So I decided to “suck it up buttercup,” and told myself if I can drink like an adult, it wouldn’t kill me to start eating like one too. After a few weeks of this spinach saga a couple things happened. First, my body was pretty pleased with me and rewarded me by doing things like not becoming exhausted during the day and second, I, well ummm, I started liking spinach! I know, I was shocked too. So here I am, months later, with my iron numbers back up, still eating spinach -- just because I want to. So how did spinach become a common food in our diets? Who picked up this green leaf at some point and thought “I’m going to shove this in my mouth and hope I don’t die?” Well, (not) shockingly, not much research has been done to find out the origins of spinach, but we do know a few things. Spinach has been a part of our diet for about 2000 years, starting in Persia then introduced to Nepal, India, and then China where it was called the “Persian Green.” Documents have spinach in the Mediterranean area by the 10th century, followed by Spain and Germany by the 12th century. During the European middle-ages, spinach was widely grown and became a staple in Mediterranean, English, and French cooking. In fact, the term “a la Florentine” became popular and referred to the French spinach dishes created in Florence. Years later, spinach made its way “across the pond” with the settlers and took off in the new world, quickly becoming common in our diets.

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While spinach does contain quite a bit of iron, it’s not the iron super food it’s been touted as. In fact, spinach gained this reputation from human error when a scientist accidentally put a decimal in the wrong place, resulting in spinach seeming to have ten times the amount of iron it really did. This error resulted in an article published by American Medicine in 1927 proclaiming spinach to be a “king amongst vegetables” and would cure countless illnesses and help end malnutrition caused by the Great Depression. Doctors and the government pushed this superfood but the public still wasn’t convinced; enter Popeye the Sailor Man. Popeye was already a comic strip hero, a little guy who used superhuman strength to take on any bullies who came his way. For this campaign, Popeye’s strength came from eating spinach in the hopes that America’s children would be inspired to do the same. It worked like a charm, spinach sales took off and kids were loving it, even listing it as one of their favorite foods. So here we are, generations later and despite the uncovering of the decimal point debacle, still convinced spinach is the “king amongst vegetables.” And with a jingle like “I’m strong to the finish cause I eat me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man,” how could we not? Okay, so spinach isn’t the iron powerhouse veggie we once thought, it is a powerhouse in its own right with plenty of vitamins like A, C, K1, folic acid, iron and calcium. Also, components in spinach have also been proven to help with blood pressure, eye health, and antioxidants that fight oxidative stress, which is tied to premature aging, cancer, and diabetes. So, do your body a favor and give spinach a go, you might surprise yourself and end up eating it just because you want to, too.

Apple Spinach Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette SALAD INGREDIENTS: • 10 oz baby spinach • 2 large apples, cored and thinly-sliced (any apple will do) • half a small red onion, peeled and thinlysliced • 1 cup walnut halves, toasted (or pecans) • 2/3 cup dried cranberries • 5 oz goat cheese, crumbled (or feta cheese, or blue cheese) • 1 batch apple cider vinaigrette (see below) • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, to sweeten (optional) CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS: Step 1 Prepare Champagne Vinaigrette - Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk or add all ingredients to a mason jar, cover, and shake. Step 2 Add spinach, apples, red onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, and half of the goat cheese to a large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Step 3 Serve immediately, garnish with the remaining goat cheese.

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced • a generous pinch of salt and black pepper

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7/29/21 11:48 AM

Drinking Your Veggies!


story by Clare Lee

ecently, as I hosted a cocktail party, I served each of my guests their preferred beverages before preparing my own - as a proper host should do. But then when I walk outside with my vodka tonic with a cucumber slice on the rim, one of those guests I had previously served was curious of my drink. He was drinking the same, except with the standard lime - which is a good drink too, but a little bit of cucumber adds just the right bit of summertime coolness to the cocktail. Of course, he quickly finished his first round with the boring lime to encounter a try with the cucumber. There was no big secret or no difficult measures needed, just a fresh cucumber. I poured the vodka and quickly cut off a slice and sort of scraped a little bit of the inside flesh into the glass and topped off with tonic water and put the remainder of the circular slice on top. He was amazed at how differently refreshing the simple switch was. The energizing and subtle flavor from the vine-ripened cucumber was a great little twist to his favorite cocktail. Since that night, he has noted he often switches out his lime for a cucumber when in season. Now there are a few cucumber haters out there, but I encourage you to give this a shot as it is a very mild cucumber flavor, but definitely a quench to the heat of summer. Also, this is an easy switch up drink. You can enjoy a vodka soda with cucumber if that is your preferred mixer for your end of day refresher. For some of you who are all in on the cucumber, there are some wonderful cucumber flavored vodkas out there. My favorite is Effen Cucumber Vodka. This vodka is a product of Holland, and they have a process for their small line of flavored vodkas with remarkable end results. Now, I am not not talking about the flavored vodka craze that littered liquor store shelves over the past few years with such renderings as cupcake flavored vodka and the like, but this real natural-flavored spirit is a great addition to your bar. You can use it in your vodka tonics or it is an especially great liquor base for a bloody Mary, offering a perfect complement to the cucumber’s summer cousin, the tomato. Or you can use the flavored vodka for a unique martini. However you decide to tweak your cocktails, there is no doubt that adding a little cucumber in your drink will make your party guests green with envy just like it did for mine.

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Vodka Tonic


2 oz your favorite vodka (or Effen Cucumber) Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water (or your favorite) 2 cucumber slices


Fill glass with ice and add vodka. Scrape a bit of cucumber flesh with serrated knife into glass and top off with tonic. Add cucumber wheel as a garnish.

The Dandelion


3 ounces lemon sour mix (1 part simple syrup, 1 part lemon juice) ½ teaspoon grated cucumber

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Shake all ingredients and pour into a glass with the rim coated in granulated sugar and microplaned ginger.

7/29/21 11:48 AM

VIP Destin at Auston’s on 98

Todd Royall & Heather Hintz

Verla Price & Todd Reeves


July Cover Reveal Party


photos & story by Zhalman Harris

fter a long hiatus, VIP Destin Magazine held its cover reveal party at one of the newest bars in town on July 8. Auston’s on 98 hosted the intimate crowd who came to witness the reveal of the July issue of the magazine. Todd Royall and Heather Hintz graced the magazine for the month of July. The two were persuaded to come and hang out at the reveal by friends. “We were very shocked and surprised to see ourselves on the cover


when we got in. I knew something was up, when we were told to make sure we attend the event, I just didn’t know what,” said Todd. The high-energy and fun-fi lled after work event at the Auston’s was attended by local business owners and invited guests. Guests enjoyed delicious hors-d’oeuvres prepared by the chef at Auston’s. Door prizes were won by lucky attendees, when their names were pulled from a pool of business cards dropped in a basket at the entrance.

Mike & Rose Maksym

Jessica Evans & Doug Crow

Bobby Parker & Katie Bast

Jason & Desiree Hall, Steve Franco & Amy Milligan

Kristin Moffitt & Stephanie Alvarez


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AUGUST 5 Destin High School Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening Celebration Destin High School 4325 Commons Drive W | Destin 6:00pm Come commemorate the opening of the first high school in Destin and the newest high school in Okaloosa County in more than 50 years! Meet the Education Team & Administrators. Meet the legendary first class of Destin High. Tour the state-ofthe-art facility. Register to win an autographed Danny Wuerffel football and more. See more at


AUGUST 7, 14, 21 & 28

Sip N’ Stroll

Farmer’s Market at Grand Boulevard

J. Leon Gallery & Studio 13370 Emerald Coast Pkwy. | Destin 5:00-7:00pm

Grand Park, between Cantina Laredo and Tommy Bahama 600 Grand Blvd. | Miramar Beach 9:00am-1:00pm

Enjoy an evening of art at J. Leon Gallery and Studio with wine, champagne, and light snacks. Meet local artists and view work from local and regional artists, including painters, mixed media artists, ceramics artists, and illustrators. Tour the gallery and fully functioning ceramics studio and delight in a night of creativity. See additional details at

The outdoor market features dozens of unique vendors offering locally sourced food items, including produce, eggs, milk, cream, butter, grass-fed beef, chicken, lamb, pork, local honey, pickled vegetables, and gourmet jams. On the artisanal and green side, Grand Boulevard Farmers Market offers flowers, herbs, soaps, and lotions. Find out more at

AUGUST 12 Book Tour featuring Navy SEAL Chief (Ret.) Eddie Gallagher Clemenza’s at Uptown Station 5 Eglin Parkway, Suite 126 | Fort Walton Beach 6:00-8:00pm The Clemenza’s family is honored to be selected as a stop on the book tour for Retired Navy SEAL Chief, Eddie Gallagher, author of “The Man in the Arena.” Released in July, the book features never-before-revealed details of Gallagher’s experience fighting for his freedom from his controversial arrest in 2018, the treatment he endured while in solitary confinement, his trial, and his pardon later by President Trump. Only weeks following the release, the book was already named a “Best Seller” on Amazon. Meet Gallagher, take photos, and have your books signed at the free event. Learn more at

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AUGUST 14 Autos in August The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd. | Miramar Beach 11:00am-3:00pm Join The Village of Baytowne Wharf and Emerald Coast Customs for a day of fun, sun, and cars. Prizes will be awarded, and you will see Muscle Cars, Jeeps, Vettes, 4x4s, Exotics, Imports, and others all throughout The Village. Open to the public. Learn more at

AUGUST 19 Bubbly Baytowne


The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd. | Miramar Beach 5:00pm

Paddle at the Park

Bubbly Baytowne is BACK! Enjoy an evening full of FREE champagne while you sip and shop The Village streets. Check in by the fountain to receive your complimentary Baytowne Wharf glass and a map outlining specific merchants to visit. More info at

Henderson Beach State Park 17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy. | Destin 9:00am-1:00pm This annual standup paddle board race is back, with an exciting new location at Henderson Beach State Park. Formerly Paddle at the Porch, this 9th annual event features 1 and 3-mile recreational races and a 6-mile elite race, to be followed by awards, food, and fun! For updates visit www.facebook. com/PaddleAtThePark.

AUGUST 21 & 28


Endless Summer Concert Series

8th Annual Stock the Pantry Party

HarborWalk Village 34 Harbor Blvd. | Destin 7:00-9:00pm

Food For Thought 132 Market Street | Santa Rosa Beach 5:30-7:30 pm

Keep the Summer going by enjoying live music on the Main Stage through August!

The party will reveal the winners of the Stock the Pantry Fundraiser competition, which helps fi ll their pantry for the 2021/22 School Year. Enjoy live music, refreshments, cocktails by Better Together Beverage, and the Kona Ice Truck.

Saturday, August 21st The Shakedown Saturday, August 28th Grape Drink For more info visit

Find out more at

Visit for more events! 54


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7/29/21 11:52 AM Thank you for Voting Blanken Management Best Financial Advisor

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VIP Destin at the Niceville Community Center


Networking Breakfast


photos & story by Nikki Briere

n July 14, The Niceville Valparaiso Chamber held their Second Wednesday Breakfast networking meeting at the Niceville Community Center with a great crowd with tremendous energy. The morning kicked off with coffee and conversation along with music by Josh Woeckener and a hearty breakfast prepared by One 20 A Modern Bistro. Serving as emcee for the event was Neko Stubblefield of Eglin Federal Credit Union, who welcomed everyone and thanked the sponsor - Twin Cities Hospital who brought along the amazing daVinci Robotic System for guests to try. New members were announced, each giving a short intro about themselves and their business. Neko shared upcomimg Chamber events before introducing Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board - Garrett Floyd of Niceville Insurance Agency. Chairman Floyd presented the You Rock Award to Dana Topel of NextHome Cornerstone Realty for her many successful community efforts in making the community a better place and helping others. Chairman Floyd continued his presentation by introducing the new conductor of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra -Todd Craven. Rachel Green, Community Relations Coordinator at Twin Cities Hospital shared with the large crowd an informative presentation highlighting some of the major accomplishments that the HCA Healthcare and Facility Leadership were able to conquer in 2020 including the expansion of their ER facility and adding the new daVinci Robotic system to their Surgery Center. The meeting adjouorned with a 50/50 cash drawing and door prizes awarded, which were donated by attendees.

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Tim Parsons & Erica Nelson

Dana Topel & Garrett Floyd

Melissa Ehlers & Kevin O’Rourke

Angie Tubb, Emily Friedlander, Rachel Green, Daniela Martin & Joy Andrews


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Courtney Dollson, April Leake & Neko Stubblefield

Lee Bolton, Kelly Jason & Bernard Johnson 850.585.1598

Contact Mary Fletcher

to learn about buying and selling property along the Emerald Coast

$56 Million in Sales! Neko Stubblefield, Bill Readdy & Cristie Kedroski


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LOCALE O Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and United Way Emerald Coast Partner to Impact Five Hundred Local Children Fort Walton Beach Medical Center partnered with United Way Emerald Coast to host a Snack Pack Kit Build, a corporate engagement opportunity provided through UWEC to support our neighbors experiencing hunger. FWBMC accompanied the kit build with an internal food drive, engaging over fifteen departments within the organization.

“Our colleagues enjoy helping the community and it showed with the United Way Snack Pack Food Drive,” said Mitch Mongell, CEO, FWBMC. “We are proud to have been the first organization to participate in this community engagement initiative. Our colleagues teamed up and donated over 7,000 items, which will impact 500 kids. I am always so happy to see how involved our colleagues are in the community they serve.” Snack Packs are care packages fi lled with nutritious, shelf stable snacks and pantry staples. The assembled kits have been distributed to seven of UWEC’s nonprofit partner agencies that provide services to local low-income families in Okaloosa and Walton counties who face food insecurity.

“It is organizations like United Way that allow Fort Walton Beach Medical Center to increase employee engagement while giving back to the communities

where our colleagues and customers reside,” stated Denise Kendust, Director of Communications and Community Engagement, FWBMC. “We are fortunate to have UWEC as a community partner.” Corcoran Reverie Ranks Top for Best Real Estate Professionals in Florida in 2021 Corcoran Reverie, an affi liate of The Corcoran Group, ranked top for best real estate professionals in the state of Florida based on RealTrends + Tom Ferry America’s Best Real Estate Professionals 2021, a ranking produced by RealTrends and Tom Ferry International. In the Small Teams category, Hilary Farnum-Fasth and Jacob Watkins ranked #5 in Florida with more than $229 million in closed sales volume for 2020. Corcoran Reverie agents Rob Weil and Judy Jones also ranked in the Top 500 Individuals by Volume in Florida category for their closed sales volume in 2020.

“It’s a true honor to be ranked in the Top 5 Small Teams in Florida alongside my business partner, Jacob Watkins,” said Hilary Farnum-Fasth, broker/owner of Corcoran Reverie. “The past year presented us with many different challenges, but since affi liating with Corcoran just over a year ago, I truly believe our success is contributed to the power behind the Corcoran brand along with the dedication of the agents, leadership team, and clients at our brokerage.” RealTrends + Tom Ferry America’s Best Real Estate Professionals ranks more than 18,500 residential real estate professionals based solely on their excellence in real estate sales in the past calendar year. All production numbers are independently verified by a third party to ensure accuracy and report integrity. This group of highly

successful real estate sales agents represents the top one percent of all real estate practitioners in the United States. “Being just a team of two makes receiving this designation even more surreal,” said Jacob Watkins, Real Estate Advisor & Partner. “Hilary and I have always made it a priority to first build a solid relationship with our clients – whether they are purchasing their first home or their fourth – and that is where our success really stems from.” Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club Expands Team and Golf Course

As the Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club golf course gets a facelift, the club’s staff is also starting to ramp up and re-envision new beginnings with their re-opening this fall. Zach Philips will be taking over as the new director of golf and managing the operations at the club. Once adjusted into his new role, Philips will also be adding a first assistant. Carter Murchison, former director of golf, has moved to PGA director of instruction. With a new trackman system in place and enhancements being made to the teaching building, it will provide for the ultimate experience for individuals seeking to learn golf for the first time or simply wanting to step up their game. Dan Drake is the new food and beverage director and will be responsible for ensuring the award-winning team at Vue on 30a continues to bring excellent culinary services to club members and guests. He will oversee all aspects of the club’s food and beverage planning. Jessica Clark is the new director of member experience where she will focus on member benefits, social events, member communication, and marketing. “We are building my dream team,” said Michael Bickett, general manager. “Each person and each role they play is crucial to the membership experience at Santa Rosa. Carter, Zach, Dan, and Jessica each have August 2021 | 61

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LOCALE O a strong desire to improve and grow the experience levels at our growing club,” Bickett added.

With renovations on the golf course and clubhouse, the club is expanding and reenvisioning at a pace many could not have dreamed of -- with memberships reaching sold-out status with waitlists. “Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club is thriving,” said Sarah Brazwell, membership and marketing director. “The club has a history of supportive members. In addition to our long-time members, we are fortunate to be a reciprocal of many wonderful new families moving here seeking the fun and relaxing lifestyle,” added Brazwell. The course renovation is still on track, planning for a reopening this fall. Local Children in Crisis, Inc. and ECCAC Awarded Over $22,000 to Fuel the Panhandle Young People’s Bold Ambitions Recently, Children in Crisis, Inc. and Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center received grants totaling more than $22,000 from the Taco Bell Foundation to support more than 100 youth in need in the Panhandle of Florida. The funds will go towards much needed personal computers, mental health services, and other supplies and programs that educate and inspire that next generation of leaders.

“We are honored to partner with the Taco Bell Foundation in championing the educational dreams of our young people,” said Sean Tuohy, CEO of RGT Management, Inc. along with his wife Leigh 62

Anne Tuohy and their family foundation, Making it Happen Foundation, who connected these organizations with the Taco Bell Foundation. “The vision we share with the Taco Bell Foundation is one in which every young person has access to quality education and the resources they need for a successful future.” CIC and ECCACare two of more than 400+ youth-serving organizations across the country that will receive a portion of the 10 million dollars in grants being presented by the Taco Bell Foundation this year. The grants are an example of the Taco Bell Foundation’s mission to fuel young people’s boldest educational ambitions. “We are proud to support like-minded organizations through our Local Grants Program,” said Jennifer Bradbury, Executive Director of the Taco Bell Foundation. The Making it Happen Foundation strongly feels together with these organizations, we can work to break down barriers so students nationwide can continue creating and innovating. This $10 million is being invested in our local communities to a group that we hope will be our next educators, innovators, leaders and great SUCCess stories. Heartland Bank Welcomes Ashley Vannoy as Senior Vice President Heartland BancCorp, parent company of Heartland Bank, recently announced the establishment of a Northwest Florida Region Loan and Deposit Production Office led by Ashley Vannoy, Senior Vice President. This new market in Destin, Florida, will allow for a focus on strategic growth for the bank. “Our new loan and deposit production office in Destin is a fantastic opportunity to enter a business-friendly growth market. Fortunately, we have a community banker in Ashley Vannoy with roots in the area to carry out our mission and share our commitment to value,” stated G. Scott McComb, Chairman, President and CEO. Vannoy has a solid background as a

financial services professional with 30 years of success in strategic planning, program development, marketing management and direct client engagement. With the majority of her experience in northern Florida, her network and professional reach contributes to her anticipated success for Heartland in this new market area.

Heartland BancCorp is a registered Ohio bank holding company and the parent of Heartland Bank, which operates 18 fullservice banking offices and TransCounty Title Agency, LLC. Heartland Bank, founded in 1911, provides full-service commercial, small business, and consumer banking services; professional financial planning services; and other financial products and services. Heartland Bank is a member of the Federal Reserve, a member of the FDIC, and an Equal Housing Lender. Heartland BancCorp is currently quoted on the OTC Markets (OTCQX) under the symbol HLAN. In May of 2021, Heartland was ranked #82 on the American Banker Magazine’s list of Top 200 Publicly Traded Community Banks and Thrifts based on three-year average return on equity as of December 31, 2020. The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton Announces Initial Round of Confirmed Artists for the 13th Annual 2022 30A Songwriters Festival! For the past 12 years, the 30A Songwriters Festival has attracted thousands of die-hard live music fans from around the country to hear original songwriters spanning many genres of music perform their songs. Thirty venues along the 30A corridor will be presenting over 230 songwriters and 300+ solo, band. and in-the-round performances throughout the weekend of January 14 – 17, 2022. Dueling rockstar brothers Chris and Rich Robinson formed The Black Crowes in 1984 with a career that saw the release of eight


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LOCALE O studio albums, four live albums, and over 35 million records sold, in 2013 the brothers brother vowed to never play or speak again. This January, Chris and Rich will reunite on the mainstage at Grand Boulevard as

Brothers of a Feather, an acoustic duo, and perform their classic hits from “She Talks to Angels” and “Twice as Hard” to “Remedy.” Mavis Staples is both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a Grammy Award winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree. This legendary live performer who’s performed with everyone from Prince to Bob Dylan will treat the audience to a string of The Staples Singers’ classics and more. Dawes will showcase songs from their latest album Good Luck With Whatever. The LA based group is one of the finest new folk rock bands of the modern era. Studio collaborators include Jackson Browne and Benmont Tench. Signature songs “Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “All Your Favorite Bands” evoke a classic Laurel Canyon sound for the new millennia. Jenny Lewis established herself as indie rock royalty as the frontwoman of Rilo Kiley, but as a solo artist she’s blossomed into a singular, contemporary singer-songwriter. Her latest record On the Line features performances from Ringo Starr, Beck, and Don Was. Emmylou Harris returns to serenade the mainstage with her incomparably expressive voice and eloquent, straightforward songs that first shook up country radio in the 1970s and cemented her as the premiere songwriter of a generation selling more than 15 million records and garnering 14 Grammy Awards, three CMA Awards, and four Americana Awards in the process. Rickie Lee Jones will make her 30A 64

debut fresh off the release of her memoir Last Chance Texaco. The two-time Grammy winner, known for her haunting voice that ranges from deep yearning to late-night sultry, first appeared on the Los Angeles scene in the mid-1970s penning instant classics like “Chuck E.’s In Love,” “Danny’s All-Star Joint,” and the pivotal breakup album Pirates. Returning to perform two shows each throughout the weekend are songwriting legends Amy Grant, Rodney Crowell, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, John Paul White (The Civil Wars), and Shawn Mullins! Additional performers will be: Dar Williams, Marc Broussard, Carlene Carter, Robyn Hitchcock, Sierra Hull, James McMurtry, Liz Longley, Dan Navarro, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Jeffrey Steele, Kalen & Aslyn, Peter Bradley Adams, Kyshona Armstrong, Jeff Black, Mary Gauthier, Alex Guthrie, Toby Lightman, Charlie Mars, Michael McDermott, Leigh Nash, Abe Partridge, Alice Peacock, Darden Smith, J Barnaby Bright, Meaghan Farrell, Jesse Terry, The Young Fables, and many more! Step One Automotive Group Receives COVID Hero Award from the United Way of the Emerald Coast Step One Automotive Group was recently awarded the COVID Hero Award by the United Way Emerald Coast at their Annual Meeting held at the Place on Beal. Several businesses who provided support during the 2020 COVID Pandemic were recognized for their generosity and commitment to the local community. Step One’s recognitions stemmed from the participation as the main partner for the COVID-19 Food Drives held throughout the year at the Fairgrounds which allowed more than 12,000 pounds of food to be distributed to families in need during the pandemic. “We were so thrilled to be able

to help with this initiative,” said Maureen Bierman, head of communications for Step One Automotive Group. “We are committed to the health and welfare of this community and are happy to answer the call whenever necessary.”

Step One Automotive Group is an American company based in Florida that was built on a singular dedication to empowering lives through smarter and easier ways of accessing mobility. Step One Automotive Group owns 18 dealerships in Florida and Georgia, representing 16 brands including; Chrysler, Dodge Jeep, Ram Fiat, Volkswagen, Subaru, Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, Ford, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. United Way of the Emerald Coast envisions a community where resources are aligned to ensure people are healthy, families are strong, and youth and adults are engaged in strengthening social bonds. Serve donors, advocates and volunteers with the organization and leadership they require to provide financial stability, education opportunities, and healthy lives to their community.


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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

What is the primary mission of Special Forces Association? The national-level Special Forces Association serves as the voice for the Special Forces Community; Perpetuates Special Forces traditions and brotherhood; Advances the Public Image of Special Forces and promotes the general welfare of the Special Forces Community. The Association was founded in 1964 and was initially called the Decade Association. The SFA is a non-profit veterans’ fraternal organization, and it originally served as a means for longstanding members of the Special Forces Community to maintain fellowship and camaraderie. Over the years, the mission of the SFA expanded and adapted as demands on the Soldiers and their interests changed. We now support the Soldiers and Families of Special Forces through family events, by providing funding and assistance to Wounded Warriors and Gold Star Families and collect memorabilia and personal accounts of veterans to preserve Special Forces heritage and traditions. The SFA, Emerald Coast Chapter VII, unifies the Special Forces Community of the Emerald Coast in order to steward a network of people, organizations and capabilities to provide support, camaraderie and growth opportunities for Special Forces Veterans. We promote the

general welfare of membership through local representation and community engagement and educate new generations of Soldiers and the public on the history and traditions of Special Forces. We commemorate the fallen and we provide social and recreational activities to unite the SF Community across generations. SFA Chapter VII is a Member-Run Veteran’s Service Organization with three volunteer Chapter Officers providing oversight and direction. How long has SFA Chapter VII been around? Chapter VII of the Special Forces Association has, throughout its history, represented those Special Forces units that worked in Central and South America. It began as a community of Special Forces Soldiers stationed in Panama Canal Zone in the 1960s. In 1990, the majority of the Special Forces Soldiers in the Canal Zone returned to Ft. Bragg, but the Chapter stayed in support of those that remained in Panama including Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion 7th Group (C/3/7) and the SF Soldiers assigned to the Jungle Operations Training Center at Ft. Sherman. As US forces left Panama in 1999, so did the last of the SF units, who moved to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico. Again, Chapter VII moved

with their members, and continued to be the focal point of camaraderie for the SF Soldiers of C/3/7 and Special Operations Command– South who were moved to the island. Chapter VII was closed down in 2003 when the units returned to the US mainland, and members were assigned to other local Chapters. The Congressionally mandated move of 7th SFG from Fort Bragg to Eglin AFB eight years later created a need for a new organization to support the Special Forces Regiment. Chapter VII was thus revived in 2010 with 15 charter members. The Chapter now encompasses Okaloosa, Walton, and Escambia Counties with over 300 members. Our mission extends far beyond our members and SFA Chapter VII supports the thousands of SF Soldiers who call Northwest Florida home. The overwhelming majority of our members live in Niceville, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and Destin, but our membership base spans the Florida Panhandle. We also have a substantial number of members in the Tampa area with others scattered across the US– with some even living overseas! How many chapters are there? SFA has 85 Chapters. New chapters are incorporated under SFA National when a need and sufficient interest are demonstrated to merit a new independent August 2021 | 67

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Interview with Special Forces Association - Ch VII

entity. Chapter VII is a great example of this, the move of 7th SFG from Fort Bragg to Eglin Air Force Base created a huge group of members in need of an organizational structure almost overnight! In our case, we wanted to capture the history of Chapter VII due to their Latin American focused heritage (where many of our members had lived and worked), their history with 7th SFG and the reputation of being a focal point of the lives of so many Special Forces Soldiers in the Panama Canal Zone. How has SFA Ch VII made an impact locally in the last year? It was a slower year than normal due to COVID, but Chapter VII donated over $10,000 to support SF Soldiers and Families. We maintained several memorials on the 7th SFG cantonment to fallen and wounded warriors. The Chapter was especially focused on family-building events and conducted “Military Child Appreciation Day” at Surge Trampoline Park in Fort Walton Beach. There was a “Military Spouse Appreciation Night,” a dinner and art event at Jojo’s Coffee and Goodness, in Niceville. We put on camaraderie-building events such as our “Whiskey Night” event at the Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview. We had a multigenerational gathering at The Heights in Crestview with veterans from Korea through current confl icts. The SFA provided transportation for Families of Fallen SF Soldiers to be present at the dedication of memorials for their loved ones. We supported 7th SFG’s Ruck March event in commemoration of the victims of 9/11 and the unit’s casualties in the War on Terror. We had thousands of runners at our Jingle Bell Jog in December and presented over $20,000 in scholarships to the children of SF Veterans bound for college. It’s been a busy year despite the pandemic, but next year we’ll moving even faster! What is the greatest challenge facing SFA Ch VII? 68

Our largest challenge is meeting the needs of our membership despite differences in interests that change by generation. Our Korea, Vietnam, and Cold War veterans have very different needs, expectations, and perspectives on what the organization is or should be than our Active Duty and post-9/11 members. As one of only five SFA Chapters colocated with an Active Duty Special Forces Unit, we have far more members, much younger members and most importantly, more members still in service than most other SFA Chapters. The challenge is to bring these generations together through activities and events that unify them into a single Special Forces Community- which is the most fundamental part of our mission. Share a specific story where the organization’s mission was fulfilled.

photo provided by Silent Warrior Fort Foundation

We collaborated with the fantastic team at the Silent Warrior Foundation and were honored to send a representative to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the Son Tay Raid- a mission to free prisoners of War held in Vietnam in 1970. The Son Tay Raid is especially relevant for our Northwest Florida Community, as the training for the mission occurred here at Eglin Air Force Base, and many of the Raiders were recruiting from 7th SFG. We worked to research and support the

effort to commemorate this event, which culminated in a live reenactment of the mission with the actual Son Tay Raiders! Imagine that- our members going through a reenactment of one of the most famous missions in US Special Operations History with the now 70-year old men who did it for real over 50 years ago. The original Raiders were incredible! They used real weapons and uniforms which were true to the equipment used in original raid and conducted a full speed helicopter assault according to the original plan. We’ve turned the event into instructional materials for the next generation of SF Soldiers. Nothing else we’ve done so fully captured the essence of our mission to preserve the heritage and traditions of the SF Regiment. What is one thing you want readers to know about SFA Ch VII? The most important thing readers should know about SFA Chapter VII is that it is simply the voice of your local SF Community. It’s an honor to be part of this and we’re always amazed by the selflessness, courage, and willingness to sacrifice of the women and men in our community. From our Korean and Vietnam Vets to the youngest activeduty Sergeants at 7th Group, they truly are a different breed, and we encourage Northwest Floridians to get to know them better. You’ll be amazed at what you find! How can someone become involved or support SFA Ch VII? Visit or email Like any organization, donations are always welcome, but we’d just as much love locals to come and be a part of our events and get to know us better! We have another “Whiskey Night” event in planning for September, a Green Beret Day event October 22nd and our Annual Jingle Bell Jog in December. Keep checking the website for the final details. We’d love to see the whole Northwest Florida Community there!


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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2021 5:30 - 7:30 P.M. HOSTED BY

THE MARKET SHOPS Celebrating 8 years!


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ON TARGET & ON TREND Serving the Emerald Coast and Beyond since 2011

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Upcoming Event Profile


Wig Out to Relive the Best Prom Night You Ever Imagined

aking it back old school style- you will want to come dressed to impress, but no less, in your Who’s ready to help benefit children in abusive situations, and have a festive and memorable evening at the same time? The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) is presenting their 6th Annual Wiggin’ Out For A Cause event presented by Great American RV Superstores and you will not want to miss all that is in store this year. One of the area’s favorite events is proven so by its annual growth. The event started in a small space and its success has necessitated a move into a larger event venue. The last event raised $30,000 for ECCAC and this year is expected to be bigger and better. The annual event will take place on Thursday, September 16, from 6 to 10 p.m., inside the Legendary Marine showroom at the foot of the Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin. With a “Prom Night of Your Dreams” theme, come dressed accordingly in your best (or worst) prom attire. And bring your guys, as this year ECCAC is encouraging men to attend, too. The entertaining event will be filled with wine and punch cocktails, along with food, fun, and live DJ music and dancing. Both the ladies and the gents will receive their own personal wigs.

You are encouraged to pre-purchase tickets now at $90 per person. Limited VIP tickets at $150 per person include a designer wig and attendance to a private VIP Pre-Party from 5 to 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit ECCAC. Tickets can be purchased online at, or call Mary Fomby at 850-833-9237, Ext. 256.

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of VIP Destin Magazine The Emerald Coast is thriving with many successful Women in Business. These Leading Ladies are at the helm of non-profits, financial institutions, medical practices, boutiques, and more. You will see these women who are strong and beautiful on the inside and out, all making a change in our community, communit whether they are behind the counter, wearing a stethoscope, or in the boardroom. Meet some of them in our September issue. To advertise, be featured, or refer a Leading Lady, reach out to Verla Price at


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Kay Phelan

What is your hometown and how did you end up on the Emerald Coast? My early life was spent moving around a lot because my father was with Eastern Airlines. I was born in Jacksonville, FL, but primarily raised in New Jersey and Miami, FL. Then as an adult, eventually I spent 15+ years in Atlanta, GA, as a single mom raising my two sons. Moving to Destin about 26 years ago from Atlanta, this is now my permanent home…forever! I had a custom home built in the Destin area which will be 30 years old next year – it is the longest place I’ve ever lived in my entire life. I love Destin! What is your profession? I am president of Phelan & Lowry, Ltd. – While the company I founded is now over 35 years old, Phelan & Lowry, Ltd. was a full service advertising agency in Atlanta for a number of years. After undoing the ad agency in Atlanta, and getting my two sons off to college, I moved permanently to Destin in 1995 to semi-retire. It seems I really wasn’t anywhere near ready to semi-retire when I moved here. Today, the company is still in full force, but it has been just “me, myself and I” with a focus in public relations, marketing and photography. Very quickly I discovered how wonderful Destin and the community is – I have continued to stay quite active in the PR community and currently handle the PR for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, the new Destin High School, and LuLu’s restaurant in Destin. As well, over the years, I have been quite involved with numerous non-profit organizations. My passion has always been “cause related marketing.” What are some of your favorite things about Destin? I so love Destin and its caring and friendly people…I often say there are 2 degrees of separation in the area, not 6 degrees! (And, don’t burn your bridges – it may come back to haunt you!) In addition to our locals, it is also wonderful to see the many families visiting here as they enjoy their vacations with our beautiful award-winning beaches and area. Three words that best describe you. Flexible. Dedicated. Passionate. (And, okay, stubborn, too!) Favorite places in Destin? The older I seem to get, the more I stay in what I call “my 3-mile radius.” There are so many things to do, quite literally in our back yard. Being outdoors in a restaurant venue that overlooks the beaches is one of my favorite things to do, especially on the outside deck of The Beach House in Sandestin. What is one thing that you do not go a day without? This sounds kind of crazy, but I think I would have to say I can’t go a day without my vegetable and cheese omelet! I am not a big foodie, and quite literally live on eggs and tomatoes. At least eggs are high in protein. Finish this statement, I AM DESTIN because… Life ironically knocked on my door when I discovered Destin on a business trip from Atlanta in 1990, I had never been to Destin prior to that trip…the rest is history.

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