VIP Destin Magazine, October 2020

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Volume XVI • Issue X

events 12 The Leadership Walton Class of 2019-2020 17 Sip N’ Stroll 22 Destin Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours 30 Walton County Chamber of Commerce Power of Business Luncheon 35 Baytowne Art Walk 58 Northwest Florida Coast Chapter FPRA 15th Anniversary Celebration 60 Sip & Shop 64 Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology Ribbon Cutting 70 Legendary Marine presents Coastal Distancing

departments 20 27 32 46 50 54 62 66 74

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

business profiles 48 The Blake

categories are in! VIP Destin Magazine Staff

on the cover Jay Johnson, Jesse Beauchamp, David Adams & Brian Beauchamp

Photography by Zhalman Harris at Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology

Publisher Greg Alexander

Designer Priscilla Atkins

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Greg Alexander Steve Barber Zhalman Harris Shanna Magnuson Verla Price Anna Stockton

Managing Editor Steve Barber Production Editor Jessica Graña Advertising Steve Barber Verla Price Jeff Sarault

VIP Founder Jeff Watson

Publisher’s Assistant Anna Stockton October 2020 | 9

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letter from the Publisher Without Googling it, I am unsure of who coined the phrase: “The show must go on.” That phrase is something that many of us have lived by the last several months. We at VIP Destin Magazine have plastered this on our walls and we have looked up to it often. It is through the passion for this community and the greatness that lies within it that we have continued to be excited to make the show go on and continue to publish an event and social magazine when events are limited and socializing is distanced. By digging a little deeper and looking a little further for events, we have found many new and surprising things to share with our readers including some new non-profits, some new businesses, some new faces, and some new ways of doing old things. We are coming out on the better end of 2020 now and we see valuable lessons learned and many parts of our society re-engineered and we look forward to all that is ahead for the rest of this year and into next. While 2020 has allowed many of us to reflect, it has also required us to look deep inside to see where we are with life and where we are going. That point leads us back to that same phrase: “The show must go on.” Back in 2016, Steve Barber joined VIP Destin Magazine as editor. He brought a lot to the table with his PR background and his love of the people and places of the Emerald Coast, and with because of his Southern graciousness and kind personality, their fondness of him. When Steve announced to us last month that he felt led to go back to his roots and back into the PR business, we were saddened to see him go, but were also happy that he is continuing to chase his passion in life. While Steve will still be around the area, just not involved in the daily operations of the magazine, we hope he will still contribute from time to time. So, the show must go on and we continue to be excited about new opportunities and new ways of sharing the very interesting people, places, and passions of all that is coveted on the Emerald Coast. We see many local businesses doing well, we see tourism thriving, we see Covid numbers getting better and better, and we see light at the end of the 2020 tunnel. We are happy to bring you the October issue of VIP Destin Magazine where you will see some of your favorite friends doing great things. Notice in Adventure Out the local parks where you can escape and become one with nature. In Coastal Cuisine we explore lionfish and where they came from. Destin Style provides a fall style forecast and in #trending we share a favorite creator of functional art. Throughout the past month we have sipped, strolled, lunched, artwalked, cut ribbons, and coastal distanced in order to bring you one of the best issues yet of VIP Destin Magazine. We are glad you took a chance to read our publication and we hope you notice the ads of our supporters, friends, and clients and visit them soon.

Greg Alexander Publisher


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Book Your Appointment Today

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VIP Destin at Embassy Suites by Hilton Destin Miramar Beach

The Leadership Walton Class of 2019-2020 photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


he Walton Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Leadership Walton Graduation at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Destin Miramar Beach on September 2. This program has been around since 2000 and is dedicated to training emerging and existing leaders in the Northwest Florida Region. It helps build leaders who can tap into the community then give back as Alumni, assisting in continued education for the next members. Leadership Walton is a program that uses a unique and innovative approach to “develop individual’s leadership, entrepreneurial, and team building skills.” As they work through the eight monthly sessions and an overnight trip, members are also given opportunities to be introduced to mentors to help guide and build. Megan Harrison, President and CEO of Walton Area Chamber, welcomed the group and spoke about what an amazing class they are, enduring this difficult time. David Balmer spoke highly of the group too, specifically about comfort zones and how to deal with change both in our world now and also within the program. “This is how we get outside of our comfort zones. Comfort zones can be a peaceful place of rest, but it often stops us from getting better, taking chances, and growing. Instead, be willing to take a chance. People will say, ‘If I fail I’ll go back and do more.’ This is what we do, exactly that, getting us out of your comfort zone.” This truly was a beautiful evening, and one to celebrate as one of the first in-person “get togethers” celebrating their graduation.


Gwyn Wendt & Laura Pentel-Klang

Artie Rodriguez, Ashleigh Simmons, Kayla Bailey & Ashton Evans

Kellie Jo Kilberg & Denny Wenrick

Miranda Jarvis & Maggie White

Lee Curtis & Hannah Green


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Rebecca & Joe Quilit

Dustin Cosson & David Balmer

Ashley Vannoy & Angie Resiak

Jim Bagby & Bill Graves

Gabrielle Kilgore-Woods & Megan Harrison

Janet Parker & Audie Rowell

Jess Snyder & Austin Bentley

Savannah Juneao & Ginny Richerson

Ken Wampler & Marcia Hull

Renea Black, Alma Solano & Benjamin Wolden October 2020 | 13

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VIP Destin at J.Leon Gallery + Studio

Jason Lindblad & Marti Veto

Lorrie Hicks, Shawn Tomasello & Tammy Domiano


photos by Steve Barber | story by Frances Roy Agency

.Leon Gallery + Studio hosted their first-ever Sip N’ Stroll event in Destin on September 4. The evening was fi lled with creativity while guests enjoyed work from the gallery’s seven featured artists, live ____painting by artist, Jenna Varney, and a book signing with talented writer Marti Veto and owner-illustrator, Jason Lindblad. In addition, Megan Paterson showcased the gallery’s ceramic studio throughout the night. Guests were all smiles as they strolled through the gallery with wine, champagne, and light eats in hand. “Send in the Nouns” by talented writer Marti Veto and owner-illustrator Jason Lindblad is available for purchase at J.Leon Gallery + Studio and on Amazon. The next Sip N’ Stroll event is Friday, October 2, from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m and will feature four new artists. With the safety of guests, artists, and staff as their top priority, guests have the freedom to wear a mask and social distance. J.Leon Gallery + Studio is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For additional information, class and workshop signup, and to view upcoming events visit

Bill Losquadro, Stephanie Phillips, Dominica Stevens, Giuseppa Vitale & Donald B. Leedom October 2020 | 17

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VIP Destin at Sip N’ Stroll

Nicole Sharp & Barbara Holley

Mark & Bette Inch

Kathy Schumacher, Joy Adams & Demetrius Fuller

Jenna Varney

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Exploring Local Parks story by Anna Stockton

With travel restrictions in place and the closing of our usual go-to places for fun, we all seem to be getting back to basics. The basics of time together with family and getting out and exploring. Luckily, we live on the Gulf Coast where we have plenty of opportunities for adventure right in our own back yard!

Turkey Creek Park

Not far from Eglin Air Force Base is Turkey Creek Park. This 20acre park, located in Niceville, offers fun for every level of adventurer. Canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and swimming are all welcome activities along this clear creek. Turkey Creek Park also offers a one-mile boardwalk, perfect for a stroll to enjoy all the creek and floodplain forest has to offer. Thanks to an Eagle Scout project, vegetation markers are posted along the boardwalk. You also may be able to catch some of the local residents of Turkey Creek, including turtles, ducks, and various birds. You can take a break and dip your toes in the creek on one of the swimming platforms along the boardwalk. Be warned though, the chilly creek water might be a bit too chilly for some of us Floridians.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

Turkey Creek feeds into another gem of Okaloosa County, the Fred Gannon Bayou State Park. The state park’s main attraction is Rocky Bayou, the trailing arm of Choctowhatchee Bay. This park offers three different walking trails to better explore the area. The Sand Pine trail is one mile long and follows the shoreline of Puddin’ Head Lake, home of many aquatic plants. The Rocky Bayou Trail is a half mile trek along the bayou that gives you a glimpse into the wildlife and habitats that call the bayou home. Finally, the Red Cedar Trail boasts Red Cedar trees throughout the half mile path. For those who want to explore the bayou by water, canoe and kayak rentals are offered at the park and if you want to make your visit a real adventure, campsites are available to reserve as well.

Deer Lake State Park

Heading east down 30-A you’ll run into Deer Lake State Park. The sister park to another local favorite, Grayton Beach State Park, Deer Lake is over 1900 acres of coastal beauty. The sugar while sand and access to the blue waters of the Gulf make this park hard to beat. Named after the dune lake, Deer Lake offers surf fishing, swimming, picnic facilities, and bird watching. The park also offers a one and a half mile walking trail, located across from the 30-A park entrance. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the local wildlife, including coyotes and deer and bears…oh my!

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Ferry Park

For a more urban adventure, Ferry Park in Fort Walton Beach is the place to go. As one of the larger parks in Fort Walton Beach, Ferry Park has everything you need to make a great community park. Basketball goals, tennis courts, a playground, picnic pavilions and even a zip line are all available for your family fun. Ferry Park also has a one-mile walking trail, complete with fitness equipment along the path to maximize your workout. This trail runs along a stream so you can get a good look at the fish and turtles that call the stream home.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Further down the beach, check out Topsail Hill Preserve State Park on Santa Rosa Beach. This 1600 acre preserve boasts numerous hiking and biking trails. With over three miles of beaches, sand dunes up to 25 feet high and rare dune lakes, there is something interesting around every bend. Take the turpentine trail and check out the cat face pines, named that because of how the workers cut the pines to harvest turpentine in the early 20th century. This park also used to be a WWII missile testing sight, so keep an eye out and you can spot literal blasts from the past.

Fort Pickens – Gulf Island National Seashore

If you want to make your adventure a day trip, check out Fort Pickens, located at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola Beach. Fort Pickens has a long history dating back to 1825 when President James Monroe signed a law establishing a new Navy yard and depot in Pensacola Bay, Fort Pickens was then built to protect the bay from attack. There are two walking trails offered at Fort Pickens. The beach trail is a five mile trek along the soft sand of the Gulf, while the Fort Pickens Trail offers a shadier, less difficult alternative. Both trails offer excellent wildlife viewing with pelicans, ospreys, and even eagles flying overhead. Whichever trail you take, make sure you stop by the visitor’s center afterwards to cool off in the air conditioning and learn about Fort Pickens’ notable history, including the Apache warrior, Geronimo’s imprisonment in the fort.

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VIP Destin at The Palms Bistro


Business Before Hours photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


he Destin Chamber of Commerce hosted Business Before Hours at The Palms Bistro, inside The Palms of Destin Resort and Conference Center, on September 11. From 7:30am- 9:00am, this sold out event of 100 people gathered to start September off with some networking, breakfast, and of course prizes following the speakers from Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, and Taylor Haugen Foundation. Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation was the non-profit spotlight. Director Marcia Hull started off the morning with a membership promotion and told what a yearly membership can offer, along with supporting

Marcia Hull & Shane Moody

Shaun Foster & Scott Brom 22

Gerard & Tracy Perillo

the foundation outreach which served over 4,000 people in the first quarter alone, before Covid. Michelle Anchors of the Anchors Gordon Law firm shared the necessity of School Cents Makes Sense Campaign and why it is important to vote yes to the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. The Palms Bistro offers live music, happy hour specials, lunch and dinner, and is open to the public. They recently renovated the space and soon will offer dueling pianos. They offer a variety of signature food and drinks and are excited about the events to come. People were excited to get out and network again and enjoy another fabulous place that Destin has to offer.

Bill Head & Fred Fenn

Toby Ann Williams, Teresa Allen & Neko Stubblefield


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Grant Meyer & Joe Jannazo

Susan Arnold & Kathryn Mitchell

Scott Miller & Lori Smith

Chuck Mitchell & Clayton Hicks

Cassy DeJulio & Elizabeth Spies

Alexsis Evans & Natasha Smith

Michelle Anchors & Monica Autrey

Rich Lamperti & Melissa Fertitta

Christian Carlee & Chelsea Fox October 2020 | 23

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VIP Destin at Business Before Hours

Clayton Hicks & Jason Belcher

Matt Butler, Ami & Matt Cavinder

Marcia Hull & Michelle Anchors

Rodney Olsen & Lindsey Polk

Michelle Royce & Renea Black

Dion Moniz & Bill Lindsley

Rachel Borgie, Rachel Nichols & Melissa Read

David Butler, Stefanie Greenwood & Presley Sullivan

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Umm, Lionfish?


story by Anna Stockton

ave you been to one of our wonderful local seafood restaurants lately, looked at the menu and thought‌. umm, lionfish? Well, you’re not alone, as these invasive fish attempt to wreak havoc on our waters, the Gulf Coast is fighting back in unconventional ways.

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So what exactly are these spiny bundles of venom? There are two main kinds of lionfish in our area but the one that has affected the gulf coast the most is the red lionfish. Known for their vertical lines, tall dorsal spines and enormous pectoral fins, lionfish are easily recognizable. Lionfish are impressive hunters and use the cover of night to stalk their prey. They are usually found living in reefs or mangroves, but can also be make their home around man-made structures like piers and shipwrecks. They can grow up to 18 inches long, females start laying eggs when they reach around 7 inches long and lay around 2 million eggs per year. This, along with having no natural predators, makes lionfish a huge threat to our local marine life. Native to the warm waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, lionfish have found an equally hospitable environment in the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico over the past few decades. The first documented sighting was in 1985. Since then, there have been many theories and folklore surrounding exactly how the lionfish came to be in our waters. One theory is simple, aquarium enthusiasts imported the lionfish for their collection and dumped them in the water when they grew too large. Another theory is an aquarium along Biscayne Bay was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, releasing 6-8 lionfish and contributing to the already growing (however, small) population. A more farfetched idea is that the lionfish were accidentally trapped and transported in the ballast of a freighter. How ever these hardy guys got here, it appears they are here to stay. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is “spearheading” the effort to minimize the lionfish population here in Florida. Their annual Lionfish Challenge encourages recreational and commercial divers to safely remove lionfish from the population. Monthly, as well as tiered prizes, are awarded for catching the most lionfish. Pictures and FWC checkpoints are used to keep track of catches. This challenge was extended through November 1, more information can be found at lionfish/challenge/. Another program hosted by Florida Fish and Wildlife is the Lionfish Harvest Program, this allows commercial and recreational divers to be reimbursed for a portion of their lionfish dive charter. Go to www. for more information on this program. The Gulf Coast is known for making the most out of every situation and that’s exactly how some restaurants are handling the lionfish population problem. Ingenuity and creativity by local chefs, combined with a desire to keep our waters healthy, have created a trend we can all be proud of. Lionfish can be blackened, fried, barbequed, and combined with sauces and sides that will have you telling your friends. The lionfish spines are venomous, but once they’re safely removed it’s smooth sailing. The fillets are firm and white with a flaky texture and non-fishy taste, similar to a snapper or black sea bass. Demand is high for lionfish dishes as local restaurants are showcasing all the unique ways they can create something special while helping keep our eco-system healthy.

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If you are unsure how to safely fi let your lionfish, check out this helpful tutorial presented by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission continue=7&v=vqAhXceCYUk.

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Hawaiian Lionfish

INGREDIENTS: 3 eggs, beaten 1 cup chopped toasted almonds 1 cup flaked coconut 1 tbsp. sesame seeds 1 tbsp. brown sugar 1 pinch nutmeg 1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained ½ cup chopped onion 8 lionfish fi llets

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DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking dish. Place the beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Mix the almonds, coconut, sesame seeds, brown sugar, and nutmeg together in a mixing bowl. Combine the pineapple and onion together in a separate bowl. Dip each lionfish fi llet into the beaten egg, and then press into the almond mixture. Place the coated lionfish into the prepared dish. Spread the pineapple mixture over the coated fi llets. Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 40 minutes.

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VIP Destin at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa

Walton County Chamber of Commerce

Power of Business Luncheon photos & story by Verla Price


lthough social distancing made things look a little different on Wednesday, September 9, the Walton County Chamber presented another fantastic Power of Business Luncheon at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa. Megan Harrison, Chamber president, welcomed everyone and thanked Northwest Florida State College for sponsoring the event. As attendees enjoyed lunch, Megan shared about the Walton Chamber’s mentor program and welcomed attendees to become mentors. She also provided updates on the Chamber’s upcoming fall golf tournament taking place on November 12. Dr. Devin Stephenson from Northwest Florida State College shared the school’s new vision and motivated all in attendance. He discussed the President’s Leadership Academy, which will enable participants to deepen their understanding of higher education topics at the national, state, and local levels where they will engage with peers to discuss challenges and propose solutions grounded in research and best practices. Stephenson also noted the college’s focus on certifications that will enable students to get jobs that will have a $326M impact on our region. Stephenson ended by charging attendees to recharge their passions by not being neutral or average and finding the energy to make a difference. Learn more at


Dr. Devin Stephenson

Kevin Henderson & Jennifer Frost

Megan Harrison & Melissa Fertitta

Jeff George & Kari Painter

Christie Kedroski, Dr. Devin Stephenson, Dr. Deidre Price, Julie Schrodt & Charlotte Flynt


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Lisa Foster & Catie Feeney

Angie Wagoner & Melissa Beadle

Jimmy Dallas & William Blanken

Andie Rowell & Teresa Imdieke

Dr. Kate Price & Dr. Ginny Richerson

Angie Resiak & Allison Smith

Erin Bakker & Marcia Hull

Laura Andrews, Gabrielle Kilgore-Woods & Hannah Green

Carly Harmer & Dr. Carolynn Zonia

Ryan Wells, Juliet Milam & Heather Cleveland October 2020 | 31

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Fall Forecast 2020

new trends for

Now that the leaves are changing and the weather is getting cooler, you have the perfect excuse to freshen up your wardrobe with some of this season’s hottest styles. From new textures to trending colors, take a look at some of what will be in for the Fall season. Sequin Adding a little sparkle is a great way to jazz up your look. Accessorize with a sequin purse, or go full sequin dress this season! Oversized Tops The warm and cozy look is in with oversized shirts, sweaters and jackets. Go a step further with a French tuck to elevate your outfit. Rust and Tangerine Hot colors this season pull from beautiful reds and oranges, mix and match or use them as neutrals. Shawls, wraps, and ponchos If you just need a little something to keep you warm, these extras will do the trick in style! Cropped Tops It may be getting cooler, but cropped tops are still very hot! Plaid, gingham, tartan, houndstooth Sophisticated patterns are picking up this Fall. Use them on accessories, or as a statement piece. Fringe What a great way to add a little personality to any look. Works great on purses, bags, jackets, or shawls. Knit Textured knit tops are not only warm and cozy, but also very chic right now! Bonus points if your knit top is also cropped, oversized, or rust-colored!



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VIP Destin at The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Stephanie & Eric Bowman

Nick Cantrell

Iva Jazayeri


Art Walk photos & story by Steve Barber


abor Day weekend hosted the Annual Baytowne Art Walk. Each evening from 5-10pm guests strolled the Village streets as they browsed a variety of artwork from both regional and local artists. The three-day festival was fi lled with world-class art and entertainment from some of the best artists of the Southeast. The lineup of live music each night included Kyle LaMonica, Jessie Ritter, Casey Kearney, Matt McCarty, Chris Alvarado, and Ken and Andi Johnson. The weekend culminated with fireworks Sunday night at 9:15p.m. Maximilian & Alexandra Bialetskiy

Virginia Lopresti & Donna Hoffman

Tess Edwards, Kate Bilbro & Vivienne Pullen October 2020 | 35

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VIP Destin at Baytowne Art Walk

Shannon McKinney

Kendall Roles & Ryan Jett

Feature Your Business in the November Dining Guide Issue

Michael Lunsford

Patrick Reynolds 36

For More Information Call 850-502-7970


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photos provided by First Note Entertainment | story by Steve Barber


op recording artist from Destin, Florida, Payton has just wrapped up filming her music video for her upcoming single “Extra.” Two long days filming in multiple locations from 30A to Fort Walton Beach, the video begins with Payton being wooed by grand gestures from an admirer who first comes across as a little bit “Extra.” Marky Bergeron stars alongside Payton in the video as her admirer, who Payton finds to be over the top from the first encounter but eventually gives him a chance. Signed to First Note Entertainment back in 2017, the last year has seen Payton release four new songs which have helped her grow an already strong online fanbase. Payton has amassed nearly 30,000 followers and hopes this number will grow with the release of her first music video. “Take it down a notch, Hearts can’t be bought, When will you realize, You, you don’t gotta be so extra all the time.” Is a sentiment many other young girls can relate to, Payton’s core fanbase. At just 17 years old, Payton wants to be a role model in a way that empowers her audience through her music. “I think a lot of times when a guy tries to get a girl’s attention, they try to go overboard and they stop being themselves,” says Payton. Though 17 years old may sound young, Payton says, “I’ve been writing original songs and performing since I was 10.” “Extra” was written by Payton, Andrew Rudd ,and Jamie Kent, and produced by Andrew Rudd. Rudd has been working alongside First Note Entertainment with Payton throughout 2020 on a string of singles to be released over the coming months. “Payton is the real deal, with

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a kind of natural talent you can’t teach,” says Rudd. “…and not just writing, or in the studio, but now we even see it on camera.” A small film crew, led by rising talent Keno Manuel, filmed the music video which didn’t come without its hurdles. Filming a music video in the last month of summer proved to be a challenging experience in the Florida weather, either contending with pouring rain or the hottest day of the year, in the space of two days. The crew was all very thankful to be filming inside the airconditioning of “Adventure Zone” in Fort Walton Beach, but still toughed it out on the mini-golf course under the hot summer sun to get the perfect takes. It was so hot in fact that when the ice cream scene came along, the ice cream melted too fast to get any more than a two or three takes along the Okaloosa Island Pier at Fort Walton Beach. While “Extra” is her first music video, Payton is no stranger to the music scene, already receiving major recognition as one of 40 artists selected to promote their songs to prominent Music Supervisors at the Durango Film/TV Festival in Ventura, California. Payton was also invited to sing at the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, a venue many artists aspire to perform at. Payton says, “I’m still discovering myself, my music, and having fun in the process. Hopefully I can inspire people to chase their dreams despite outside voices.”

To follow Payton, find her on Instagram @itspayton or Youtube @itspaytonmusic. Thanks to First Note Entertainment for the behind the scenes access. Video by KENO Visuals. October 2020 | 39

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Home Décor/ Accessories

Happy Hour

Gift Shop

Italian Restaurant


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HEALTH & WELLNESS Aesthetician Alternative/Natural Medicine Anti Aging Service Chiropractic Clinic Cosmetic Dentist Dental Practice Dermatology Practice Doctor Medical Center

Vein/Vascular Care Weight Loss Women’s Wellness Provider

SERVICES A/V Provider Accounting Firm Alarm/Security Company Architect Automobile Dealership - New Automobile Dealership - Pre Owned

9/28/20 10:18 PM

Automobile Repair/Service

Heating & Air Service

Real Estate - Residential

Place to Be Seen

Luxury Automobile Sales

Insurance Firm

Real Estate Professional - Female

Place to Go Dancing

Bank/Financial Institution

Interior Design Firm

Real Estate Professional - Male

Place to People Watch


Interior Designer/Decorator

Real Estate Team

Place to Take the Kids

Boat Sales & Service

IT Firm/Web Design

Real Estate Company

Place to Watch a Sunset


Landscaping/Lawn Service

Sign Company


General Contractor

Law Firm

Title Company

Water Sports Experience

Specialty Contractor

Limo/Transportation Service

Vacation Rental

Charity/Non Profit

Mortgage Lender


New Business


Place for Rehearsal Dinner

Customer Service Event Planner

Payroll Firm/Human Resources

Event Rentals

Pet Care & Accessories

Event Venue


Financial Advisor

Place for Eyelashes, Nails, or Makeup


Pool Building/Service


Property Management

Golf Cart/ATV

Public Relations Firm

Hair Salon

Real Estate - Commercial Agent

Charter Fishing Experience Golf Course Hotel

Place for Stationery/Invites Place to Buy Engagement Ring Place to Buy Wedding Dress Place to Get a Tuxedo

Local Annual Event Party Boat Experience

Place to Pop The Question Reception Venue

Place for “Girl’s Night Out” Place for a Date

Wedding Planner

Place for a Weekend Getaway

Wedding Venue




for voting! Remember to nominate daily because entries with the most nominations in each category will move on to the official Best In Destin voting ballot!


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IP Destin Magazine has always aimed to create covers which embody the true VIP spirit of socializing throughout the area. Choosing that one special photo each month is no small feat, but always results in giving readers a sneak peek into what the rest of the pages hold. From fundraisers to celebrations, and ribbon cuttings to groundbreakings, VIP Destin Magazine is the place to look when you want to see what’s going on around town. Take a look back with us at our October Covers as we look forward to making many more October memories with the community.

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9/28/20 10:22 PM

A Lost Art for a New Era


photos provided by Ben Caldwell | story by Greg Alexander


rtists can certainly be entrepreneurs once they find their path through their passions. Ben Caldwell is such an artist, who found a path to artistic and entrepreneurial success making what he calls Functional Art. While he may call it that, the rest of us just call it amazing, astonishing, and timeless pieces that will become heirlooms for generations to come. His art is unique, purposeful, and beautiful. As a classically trained painter and sculptor, Caldwell studied at Tufts University, The Studio School of New York, Harvard University, and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Ben’s early career found him crafting custom guitars, West African drums, and many other fun and beautiful things – but, he was not making a living. Ben’s father introduced him to a nationally known metal worker, Terry Talley, a metal artist of the old school who was dying of lymphoma. Talley wanted to mentor Ben and pass along this almost entirely abandoned craft for future generations. In 1999, Ben took on the craft full time. With his classical background, Ben caught on quickly and even began to invent, design, and build a lot of his own tools. Eventually, Ben, along with his wife, Lael, started Ben & Lael, Inc. Ben is a coppersmith, silversmith, enamellist, and sculptor creating and selling custom, one-of-a-kind copper, silver and enamel art. Ben’s signature pieces marry the character of polished copper with natural elements such as deer, moose, or elk antlers incorporated as handles for utensils and bases for bowls. Imagine the skill that it takes to select the precise antler that compliments the metal and looks and feels like a natural fit. Ben’s goal for each piece is to seem as it has been used for decades and expects that it will be. Ben’s father was a collector of antique silver so he grew up around the stuff and had an idea of what pieces were used for. This has allowed him to improve upon and get creative with things such as ladles, scoops, and spoons. When he crafts a copper tray, it is not just a round or smooth tray, but usually a replica of a large leaf he used as inspiration. Often, even the tip of the antler on a serving piece will have a flower or object from nature engraved into it. Caldwell explains, “I’m meeting people’s needs – not just utilitarian pieces, but objects that are beautiful.” While many of Ben’s pieces are created to be used, he also creates compositions of enamel on copper. These include flags, abstracts, and landscapes, each with so much dimension and movement that when he delivered Dolly Parton’s enamel Tennessee flag, she comically quipped, “Who ran over my flag?” Ben has extended his offerings mostly based on special commissions. He has executed some copper furnishings including custom paneling and interiors for the first Starbucks Reserve. He works with various designers and was commissioned for a custom orchid bowl for Ritz Carlton. He has commissioned pieces for governors, senators, and world leaders. Most recently, Ben has been flying to Arkansas to create a custom light fixture made from copper and antlers for a cabin builder. On creating new pieces, Ben notes, “People see my work and come to me with an idea. I work with them to realize the idea and execute it.” Ben studies old pieces of silver or how craftsmen did things 200 years ago. With every design detail considered for beauty and for function, each piece is truly a work of art.



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Ben sells his art at various, exclusive shows and galleries. He is available for trunk shows at shops and galleries and is always ready to take on special commissions. And while seeing his work online does not do it proper justice, you can purchase directly from his website, as well. Learn more at

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Business Profile

The Blake at Miramar Beach Retire Florida Style


photos & story provided by The Blake

ith an aging mother-in-law, Glenn Barclay and his wife Jackie couldn’t find senior housing options that provided enough socialization, care, or the lifestyle she was accustomed to. This personal dissatisfaction was a major catalyst for his founding of The Blake Senior Living brand. The properties are named after his son, Blake, who had a very special relationship with his grandmother, Gi Gi. Many aspects that were important to his family were built them into the brand’s foundation and culture. “My son’s, Gi Gi, was strong, fun and full of life,” Glenn says. “She loved to socialize and gave new meaning to the term, abundant life.” Their interactions inspired the design and development of The Blake a resort living community for senior adults named after his son. In early 2021, the seniors of Walton, Okaloosa and surrounding counties will have the opportunity to experience The Blake’s signature resort hospitality with the opening of The Blake at Miramar Beach. It is located at 90 Ponce De Leon Street. Barclay says the Miramar Beach community is special for several reasons as they’ve partnered locally with Legendary Living. “The Legendary team brings an invaluable perspective on resort living and hospitality” says Barclay. “We’ve also added new design features such as an open kitchen where residents can enjoy tableside demonstrations from our culinary team and an upstairs morning porch overlooking the property’s eastern exposure.” The team at The Blake knows how important it is for families 48

to sit down and have a delicious meal together which is often hard to do in today’s busy life. The restaurant, with a menu of delicious choices, at The Blake will give residents and their families a wonderful opportunity to experience meal time together. “We focus a lot on our dining program, making it special with healthy food choices, encouraging family members to visit mom and, while they are here, have a great meal together,” Glenn explains.


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90 Ponce De Leon Street Miramar Beach, FL 32550 850-650-5000 miramarbeach Susan Connor, Executive Director

Tori Hughes, Director of Sales

“We stress lifelong learning in our activities program and the importance of providing our guests, residents and families the chance to experience new things.” “It’s very important in opening a new community that we build the right leadership team” says Barclay. “Our Executive Director, Susan Connor, was very successful in opening The Blake at Lafayette and we’re excited to have her lead our Miramar Beach team.” Susan has more than 30 years’ experience in healthcare management. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and has experience in new development and senior living. “I am very excited to be a part of this new community and look forward to getting to know and serving our residents,” Connor said. Susan and her management team will be focused on maintaining the coastal lifestyle that the residents love, in addition to complementing the upscale surroundings of the property. Local market enthusiast, Tori Hughes has joined the team as Director of Sales for The Blake at Miramar Beach. Tori is a graduate of Delta State University with a bachelor’s in Business Administration with an Enhanced Focus in Marketing. Tori has five years experience in senior care and is an active member of The Rotary Club of Destin. Hughes added, “bringing the coastal luxury lifestyles to seniors on the Emerald Coast is something I couldn’t be happier about.” “We stress lifelong learning in our activities program and the importance of providing our guests, residents and families the chance to experience new things,” says Connor. There will be many learning opportunities available at The Blake, including everything from guest speakers, art and fitness classes to local outings and large scale family events. Another integral part of The Blake’s programs for senior adult residents is exercise and wellness. The Blake will offer several

opportunities for seniors to exercise in safe and innovative ways. “We incorporate yoga, tai chi, martial arts, water aerobics and all kinds of exercise programs to keep it fresh and inviting for our residents,” Connor continued. The Blake is currently accepting resident reservations and anticipate a wait list due to the overwhelming response from the seniors in the area. Interested residents and families can call 850-650-5000 to schedule a tour with The Blake team at the sales office. It is located at 11394 US 98 Unit I, (near the Melting Pot Restuarant), in Miramar Beach.

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photos provided by Fore Her & Sundance Photography story by Greg Alexander


humble family gathering for a game of golf to celebrate the memory of a loved one lost to breast cancer was the beginning of an organization dedicated to helping other victims of this terrible illness. Remembering how financially taxing breast cancer was on everyone, Amy Walsh’s family transformed the event into a fundraiser, creating the Jeanette Hansen/Barb Schultz Golf Outing in Saginaw, Michigan, in memory of Amy’s mother and aunt. When Walsh moved to the Emerald Coast she wanted to continue to make an impact and founded the 501(c)3 organization that she named Fore Her and arranged the organization’s first fundraising golf outing. Now, Fore Her has expanded into a far-reaching support organization for breast cancer patients using three signature events all to raise funds and financially assist local individuals diagnosed with breast cancer and those currently undergoing treatment. The events include Tea Fore Her, which has been ongoing for 6 years. The signature event - Fore Her Golf Outing, and the Pink Walk held at Destin Commons, which is the newest event. Heather Ruiz, senior director of marketing and leasing at Destin Commons noted, “Destin Commons and many of our merchants are proud supporters of the fight against breast cancer. Being able to partner with Fore Her on a local level is so rewarding and we are honored to be able to walk with survivors, those currently fighting, in memory of loved ones, and of course caretakers, family and friends. We look forward to a day when a cure is found!” All funds raised through Fore Her events are used to pay for mortgage, rent, utilities, or helping with auto repairs for patients to get to treatments. Fore Her is here to offer resources, hope, compassion, and education for all who are affected by breast cancer. “The community has generously supported our organization over the last six years, and we want to make sure these funds get to those in need,” Walsh said. “This last year has been our most successful year of fundraising to date, and we’re looking at ways to expand our reach and make an even greater impact.” Breast cancer patients in need of financial assistance can go to to submit a request. Learn more about Fore Her at 54 |

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Interview with Amy Walsh Founder – Fore Her

What is the mission of Fore Her? Fore Her was founded to raise funds for breast cancer patients undergoing treatment and in financial need in Northwest Florida. How long have you been involved with Fore Her? I founded Fore Her in 2013. After taking a step back from volunteering from other nonprofits in the area I realized there was a need to help breast cancer patients in financial need in this area. My family (in Michigan) had been holding golf outings for many years raising funds for breast cancer patients in financial need there, so it made sense to follow their lead. Fore Her was created in memory of my mom and aunt who both passed away from breast cancer. What sort of staff does Fore Her have? Are there volunteers? Fore Her is run by all volunteers so that all funds raised are used to help those in financial need. How is Fore Her funded? Fore Her is funded primarily through our 3 signature fundraisers. The Annual Golf Outing (how we started), the Pink Walk, and Tea Fore Her. There are a few other events held on behalf of Fore Her throughout the year, however, this year, with Covid-19 those fundraisers were cancelled.

told how we are helping. The reactions of the applicants are priceless. Knowing we are bringing financial relief to those who apply is why we are here. Is Fore Her involved in any upcoming events? We have our 8th Annual Golf Outing on Sept. 25, to include a virtual silent auction; the annual Pink Walk which will be held virtually starting Oct 15, as well as our Tea Fore Her coming up on Jan 31, 2021. What is one thing you want readers to know about Fore Her? One thing I want readers to know about Fore Her is that we help breast cancer patients year-round. We are actively helping applicants every month, not just October. How can someone become involved or help the organization? Someone can be involved by contacting me or checking out the website. Most times we need volunteers for our events with planning or gathering donations or sponsors. There may be times when a newly diagnosed woman contacts us and asks to talk with a survivor or another breast cancer patient about navigating their diagnosis and we do need people willing to talk with others.

What impact has Fore Her had on the community in the last year? Over the last year we have helped pay for just over $55,000 in bills for recipients that are currently battling breast cancer and in financial need. We serve from Escambia County to Bay County. Last year we established a monthly support group, which, for now, is held virtually the 3rd Saturday of each month. If anyone battling breast cancer or any survivors would like to join us, please contact me at What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with the organization? The most rewarding part of why I founded Fore Her is the reaction from the recipients when they are told what Fore Her is doing for them. After our Patient Liaison receives an application, she will contact the applicant and then share her findings with the rest of the Fore Her Board Members. We then vote on the best course of action to financially help the applicant. We take into consideration what the applicant has asked for and try to do more than expected if we can. The applicant is then contacted by phone and

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Best Womens Wellness Provider

Treating both men and women for Weight Loss, Fatigue, Anxiety, Depression, Libido, Joint Pain, Erectile Dysfunction, Brain Injury and more...

Richard P. Chern, M.D. Thank You for Voting Us Best in Destin 3 Years in a Row!

850-837-1271 12889 Highway 98 W, Ste.107B • Miramar Beach Located In Miramar Beach Plaza October 2020 | 57

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VIP Destin at The Island

Chelsea Fox & Danica Phillips


Stephanie Pettis & Shay Smith

photos & story by Steve Barber

uests and nominees enjoyed the 15th Anniversary Celebration hosted by Northwest Florida Coast Chapter of Florida Public Relations Association on September 24. The event took place at The Island by Hotel RL on Okaloosa Island. The evening started with a mix and mingle and followed with the 2019-2020 board recognition and 2020-2021 board introduction. Awards were given to Member of the

Bobby Parker & Misty Rae Ruthrauff

Jessica Roberts & Brad Floyd

Year – Bobby Parker, President’s Award – Tracy Louthain, Social Impact Award – Christopher Saul, Communicator of the Year Award – Shantelle Dedicke. The evening concluded with the annual passing of the gavel and a champagne toast. FPRA brings public relations professionals together for support and education through programs, professional development seminars and special events.

Leslie Moland & Kate MacMillan

Tracy Louthain & Savannah Smith

Andrea Gainney, Bobby Parker, Christopher Saul, Stephanie Pettis, Tracy Louthain, Shantelle Dedicke & Kate MacMillan 58


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Shantelle Dedicke & Hillaree Durso

Mary Aho & Denise Song

Jenni Brunson & Andrea Gainney

Lori Smith & Kelly Curry October 2020 | 59

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VIP Destin at Amazing Lash Studio

Sip & Shop photos & story by Steve Barber


ith autumn vibes in the air, Amazing Lash Studio in Destin hosted another POP-UP in their studio at 34940 Emerald Coast Parkway. Saint Lucille, a local online fashion boutique, was back, and guests shopped her newest fall and Curve Collections while enjoying champagne and treats. You can review or pre-buy at Lucky Beach Nutrition, a new Destin business, was there sampling their new low carb, low sugar meal replacement shakes. Guests enjoyed sipping and shopping the latest from these three Destin businesses.

Keasha Jones & Mary-Francis Mullins

Danica Lacsado & Lida Nguyen

Shannon Gore & Tori Majors

Malaika Beer-Rance & Mary-Francis Mullins

Mary Aho, Xuan Nguyen, Jacaueline Curtsinger, Victoria Nguyen & Jordan Harte 60


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

Best Public Relations Firm 2013-2020 Best Event Planner 2018-2020 Best New Business 2012

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Miramar Beach, FL 32550

Best Public Relations / Advertising Firm 2015-2018, 2020 Best Event Planning Firm 2015-2018, 2020


(850) 460-7777


9/28/20 10:33 PM

OCTOBER 1 – 31 72nd Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo Destin Harbor Come join the fun… You are invited to participate in the best fishing rodeo that you will ever experience. Year after year, anglers return to catch the big one! The Rodeo is free to all anglers who fish aboard boats registered in the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Be sure to invite your family and friends to watch you bring in the BIG ONE at daily weighins on the docks at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar from 10:00am until 7:00pm. The Destin Fishing Rodeo is a non-profit organization that is supported by members, sponsors, local businesses, and the fishing community. To find a registered boat or for more information visit

OCTOBER 1 - 31

OCTOBER 10, 17 & 24

ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival: Virtual Exhibition

Rocktoberfest Concert Series

Grand Boulevard Town Center 585 Grand Boulevard | Santa Rosa Beach

HarborWalk Village 7:00pm – 9:00pm

In its 32nd year, ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival is transitioning to a virtual exhibition planned for the entire month of October in conjunction with National Arts and Humanities Month! Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and presented by Grand Boulevard Town Center, ArtsQuest provides an opportunity to view and purchase original art from over 150 artists from around the country. ArtsQuest is a juried show that includes artists in the categories of Ceramics, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Metal, Mixed Media, Oils & Acrylics, Original Digital Art, Photography, Sculpture, Wood and Works on Paper (Watercolor, Printmaking, Pastels, Pencils, Ink). ArtsQuest awards $10,000 in cash prizes. For more information visit

Watch the Destin Fishing Rodeo catches hit the docks with daily weigh-ins from 10:00am – 7:00pm then rock out to a free concert at 7:00 pm on the HarborWalk Village main stage. Free Parking! Entertainment on the Main Stage: 10/10: Ben Loftin 10/17: Band of Revival 10/24: Tyler Livingston & the Absolutes

OCTOBER 13 Destin Business Tech Summit The Palms of Destin Resort & Conference Center 4201 Indian Bayou Trail | Destin 9:00am – 6:00pm BizTech is back! Join us for a daylong conference and expo connecting Destin area small business owners and employees with the technology-related information and companies they need to improve their business operations and protect their electronic assets. We are pleased to announce this year’s keynote speaker is Michael Levin, the current CEO and Founder of the Center for Information Security Awareness (CFISA), former Secret Service Agent, and former Deputy Director of the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security. Topics include Cybersecurity, Leveraging Technology in Remote Work Setting, Home Network Security, Google My Business, Vendor Management, Post-COVID Payment Solutions, and more. Registration is available at 62 |

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OCTOBER 22 Subaru FWB Grand Opening 916 Beach Parkway | Fort Walton Beach 5:30pm - 10:00pm Step One Automotive Group is proud to announce the Grand Opening of the all new Subaru Fort Walton Beach! An Eco-Friendly certified dealership. We will be celebrating all night while respecting social distancing, so join us for an unbelievable kick-off event for the newest location in the Step One Family! Commemorative masks will be made available to all guests. RSVP and get all the updates at

OCTOBER 24 & 25


25th Annual Festival of the Arts

ECCAC 20th Anniversary Celebration

4323 Commons Drive West | Destin Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm

Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village 4323 Commons Drive West | Destin 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation presents the 25th Annual Festival of the Arts featuring over 65 fine artists from the United States who will be exhibiting their original art ranging from acrylic, ceramics graphic printmaking, metal, watercolor, collage, digital art, jewelry, clay, pen and ink, mosaic, mixed media, photography, oil, fiber, sculpture, pottery, wood and more. Explore a diverse palette of artistic styles and spend time meeting the artists, discovering their inspiration, and adding to your own collection. Enjoy live entertainment both days included in your admission fee. Local food trucks and restaurants will be serving your favorite cuisine. MKAF will be selling beer and wine.

Join the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in celebrating 20 years of preventing child abuse and neglect, protecting children, and restoring the lives and futures of impacted children. Help celebrate the 14,000+ children they have seen over the last 20 years and the services they have been able to provide them at no cost to them or their family. The Lucky Strike Retros will be opening for The Modern Eldorados who will be performing a concert at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin. Food and drinks will be available to purchase at the event. Raffle prizes will also be available. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

Visit for more information.


OCTOBER 30 – 31


Spooktacular Nights

Grand Boulevard at Sandestin 495 Grand Boulevard | Miramar Beach 5:00pm – 7:00pm

HarborWalk Village 10 Harbor Boulevard | Destin

Dog-Harmony presents Barktoberfest! This annual doggie social and fundraising event takes places at Grand Park in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. Attendees and their pets are encouraged to dress in their Halloween best and enjoy a canine-only trick-or-treating event. Judging for the best “Pet & Parent Matching Costume” contest will take place during the event with the prize-winning duo announced at 6:30p.m. Guests will enjoy light bites, libations, and raffle drawings. This event is free and open to the public and is presented as part of the Coastal Culture Series made possible by the Grand Boulevard Arts & Entertainment Program. Donations are greatly appreciated. No prong, choke or shock collars, please. Visit for more information.

Celebrate Halloween with two nights of fun every ghost, ghoul, and goblin can enjoy!

Friday 6:30p.m. - Boos & Booze Bingo | Pub Crawl & Concert on the main stage Saturday 6:00p.m. - Spook Street | Trick or Treating & Costume Contests | fireworks at 9:00p.m.!

Visit for more events!

Event information may be out of date due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Please confirm details with event organizers. October 2020 | 63

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VIP Destin at Coastal Skin Surgery and Dermatology

Jay Johnson, Jesse Beauchamp, David Adams & Brian Beauchamp

Ribbon Cutting photos & story by Zhalman Harris

C Carlee Pike, Samantha Forester, Myranda Singletary, Beverly Baum & Kylie Harris

Caroline Dempsey, Brittain Kulow, Cather McKay & David Adams


oastal Skin Surgery and Dermatology held a ribbon cutting at their new facility at 912 Mar-Walt Drive in Fort Walton Beach on September 12. The ribbon cutting of the new state-of-the-art facility was conducted by the Greater Fort Walton Chamber of Commerce. Guests had the opportunity to tour the new facility and get firsthand information on the services the clinic offers. Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology specializes in surgical dermatology, medical/pediatric dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology. The CEO of Coastal Skin Surgery and Dermatology, Mr. Jay Johnson, thanked the chamber for coming out and welcoming CSSD to the community and conducted the ribbon cutting. Mr. Johnson expressed how pleased they are to be part of a community where people are not only patients, but friends. He said the 8000 sq. ft. facility will be able to serve and accommodate the growing community. He stressed that they could not have done it without the community. Mr. Johnson thanked the architectural firm for their design and raved about Beauchamp Commercial, who built the facility.


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LOCALE O Sinfonia Gulf Coast Announces Call for Student Musicians to Join Sinfonia Gulf Coast Youth Orchestra Programs

The Sinfonia Youth Orchestra program is the premier training orchestra in Northwest Florida and consists of more than 50 students who perform throughout the school year in one of two ensembles: The Sinfonietta Strings and the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra. Conductor Aaron King Vaughn has officially announced their call for new youth musicians to join the orchestra for the 2020-2021 year. The Sinfonia Youth Orchestra is a full orchestra of more than 40 talented young musicians ranging in age from 6th to 12th grade. Advanced string, woodwind, brass and percussionists make up the core of the orchestra. Membership is now open to any qualified musician. Weekly rehearsals for the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra will begin on Sunday, September 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Destin Commons in the vacant merchant space between Express and Steve Madden. Sinfonietta String’s membership is open to developing string players, with at least two years of lessons, or recommendations from their music teachers. Sinfonietta Strings is a training program to prepare the musicians to move up to the full orchestra. Weekly rehearsals will begin on Sunday, September 13 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at Destin Commons in the vacant merchant space between Express and Steve Madden. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, King Vaughn and the Sinfonia Gulf Coast team surveyed parents of the current members of the Youth Orchestra to understand how they envisioned their involvement for the 2020-2021 season. “The overwhelming response from our students and parents was that they were excited to return to rehearsals in person,” 66

said King Vaughn. “We are taking extensive safety measures to ensure the students are socially distanced appropriately during all rehearsals.” Participation in either youth group requires a registration fee of $175 for the fall term, or $350 for the year. The Sinfonietta Strings and Sinfonia Youth Orchestra perform annual fall and spring concerts and at community events throughout the school year. The Sinfonia Youth Orchestra program is sponsored by Sinfonia Gulf Coast. For more information about these programs or to register your child, visit or contact Aaron King Vaughn at (850) 4608800 or

Locally Acclaimed Musician Celebrates New Album Release With a Weekend Tour

Local singer-songwriter Casey Kearney is celebrating the October release of her first full-length original album. The 11 song album is titled by the song “More to the Story” which was written about small town living and gossip. She wrote and recorded the project, maintained her regular gig schedule, while raising and homeschooling her three children who are active in the junior rodeo circuit. When describing her album, Kearney says “This project is extra close to my heart because it took so long to complete and was such a roller coaster to finally get it here. Some of the songs are my personal stories. My husband and I celebrate 20 years of marriage this year so the song “Make This Work” is one of my favorites. Others like “Waffle House” and “Bless Your Heart” are stories of friends and family. The lyrics in “Little Words” are actual quotes from my Nana who passed away a few years ago and

other lines I have heard my whole life that I want to pass to my children.” Musicians featured on the album currently tour with top country stars like Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire. Doug Kahan, an ACM award-winning producer based in Franklin, Tennessee, co-wrote several of the songs, contributed to the instrumentation and fully produced the project. Will Estell, the Director of Publishing for the 30A Company and Editor in Chief of Beach Happy Magazine, praised the album when he stated, “I absolutely love the new songs coming and I think everyone else will too. Most definitely her best tunes and writing.” In celebration of the release of “More to the Story,” Kearney is playing a special weekend tour in three locations across Northwest Florida. The Martin McDaniel Band who has toured with Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, and Billy Currington, will be coming from Nashville, Tennessee joining Kearney to perform at Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin on September 10, then 3rd Planet Brewery in Niceville, Florida, on September 11, and finally Papa Joe’s in Panama City Beach, Florida, on September 12. See more information on these concerts on Casey Kearney’s Facebook page. Presale for the physical copies of “More to the Story” is open now and the album will be available digitally on all streaming outlets October 2, 2020. Kearney is excited to offer “More to the Story” on vinyl and cassette along with the CD option, as she has fond childhood memories of selling her father’s music on cassette when he performed. A new line of merch such as t-shirts and stickers have also been created for this album and


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LOCALE O will be available at the shows and online. Tickets to her upcoming weekend tour and preorder information for “More to the Story” can be found at All pre-orders qualify for free shipping with the coupon code FREESHIP11.

City of Destin Mayor Pro Tem/ Councilwoman Appointed to Serve on Florida League of Cities Legislative Policy Committee The Florida League of Cities, the united voice for Florida’s municipal governments, announced that City of Destin Mayor Pro Tem/ Councilwoman Dr. Prebble Q. Ramswell was recently appointed to serve on the Florida League of Cities 2020-2021 FLC legislative policy committee. Legislative policy committee chairs, vice-chairs and members are appointed annually by the League’s president. Florida League of Cities President Tony Ortiz, commissioner for the City of Orlando, made the appointments for this term. As a legislative policy committee member, Dr. Ramswell will help develop the League’s Legislative Action Agenda, which details priority issues that are most likely to affect daily municipal governance and local decision-making during the upcoming legislative session, as well as help League staff understand the real-world implications of proposed legislation and are asked to serve as advocates throughout the legislative process. “It is an honor and privilege to represent the City of Destin as I work alongside other elected officials to ensure the integrity of home rule and pursuit of policy benefiting our cities,” stated Mayor Pro Tem/ Councilwoman Dr. Prebble Q. Ramswell. For a complete list of committee members, or more information on each committee and the League’s legislative policy development process, visit resources-tools/policy-committees.

ECCAC’s Young Ambassadors 2020-21 Board Announced

Nine young professionals, comprised of men and women aged 21 - 40, currently serve on the Young Ambassador Board of the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC). This group supports the mission of the non-profit by helping to spread awareness through targeted service, social happenings and community outreach. Serving as the 2020-2021 Young Ambassador Board officers are Whitney Whidden, president; Andrew Franco, vice president; and Kaitlyn White, secretary. Other board members are Danielle Barta, Allison Brelia, Ta’ki Brown, Leighann Elliott, Carrie Pardue and Andy Poveda. Whitney Whidden, commented, “I’m super excited to be serving as president again this year. We will be focusing some of our efforts on growing our Young Ambassador membership. As well, we will be networking with other young professionals to educate them about ECCAC and encouraging them to get involved, whether by donating their time or money to the center. ECCAC is seeking more Young Ambassadors. To apply, visit www.eccac. org/youngambassadors and complete the application at the bottom of that page. Or, for more information, call Chelsea Fox, ECCAC Development Manager, at 850833-9237, Ext. 283. ECCAC is in its 20th year in operation this year. They have provided over 150,000 services at no cost to include mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals to more than 14,000 children and their families at their Niceville center and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs. For more information, visit If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Honored with AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping Award Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, a premier beachfront resort located on Florida’s Gulf coast, has been named a 2020 AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping Hotel. The award is presented to only the top 25% of 27,000 AAA Inspected and Approved hotels. The recognition honors the property’s overall cleanliness and condition as ranked by a AAA Inspector. “I’m very proud that our exceptional housekeeping staff is being recognized for their diligence and professionalism, particularly with the current increased concerns over cleanliness and sanitation,” said General Manager Gary Brielmayer. “Although they often go largely unnoticed by guests, we know the housekeeping team is the backbone of any successful resort. This award demonstrates our team’s continued commitment to guest health and safety, and to providing the best travel experience possible.” To be awarded Best of Housekeeping, hotels must demonstrate housekeeping excellence for two consecutive surprise inspections and be free of AAA member complaints. Hotels must also already be meeting AAA Diamond status, a list of 27 essential requirements including comfort, security and safety.

In the wake of global impacts from COVID-19, the team at Hilton Sandestin has taken additional precautions including the implementation of social distancing and directional signage throughout the property; installing multiple sanitation stations in public spaces; adjusting outdoor seating along the pool deck to facilitate social distancing standards; increasing daily sanitation of all elevators and public spaces; and operating all restaurants in accordance with capacity limits per state order. The property has also implemented the Hilton October 2020 | 67

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LOCALE O Hotels & Resorts CleanStay initiative this summer. Located on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, Hilton Sandestin greets guests with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico’s sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters. Each guest room boasts a full or partial Gulf view, all with private balconies and outdoor seating. Poolside lounges and private cabanas dot the resort’s expansive outdoor deck, where families and couples alike enjoy special time with one another. For more information about Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, visit or call 850-2679500.

New Company on a Fast Track …RaeBird Wedding + Events

The Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida is well known for its beauty and beaches hosting many events, along with both local and destination weddings. Locals, Leighann Elliott and Haley Poveda, have founded a new company, RaeBird Wedding + Events. They will specialize in the coordination, planning and implementation of events and weddings in the region. According to Elliott and Poveda, “RaeBird is a full-service wedding and event planning company. From planning corporate and non-profit events, birthday parties, family reunions, girls nights out, and even our own weddings, we discovered a passion for all things special and social, turning our dream into a reality by starting RaeBird Wedding + Events. We are a dynamic duo and like to say our company is small, but our heart and hard work is big. We have the ability and expertise to fully manage events from beginning to end, while planning the design


and coordination. Every detail is part of the big picture.” Unlike many wedding and event companies, RaeBird offers their expertise, from full to partial services, depending on their client’s needs. Accordingly, they offer several comprehensive fixed rate packages that specifically describe RaeBird’s scope of services that will be involved. All of their services start with a complimentary consultation. Leighann Elliott was raised in the South, and hospitality has always been a way of life for her. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Elliott grew up in a large family, her passion for the event industry fueled her interest in Hospitality. After graduating from Auburn University with a Hospitality Management degree in 2017, Elliott moved to Miramar Beach to pursue her career goals in event coordinating and management. She has been in the hospitality and events industry for over a decade now, and is the Events and Marketing Manager for The Village of Baytowne Wharf. As well, Elliott serves on the Young Ambassadors Board for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. Haley Poveda is an Arkansas native who now claims the Emerald Coast as her home. Growing up in Little Rock, she graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2014 with a degree in Kinesiology. Her passion, attention to detail, and enthusiasm for weddings and events came after planning her own wedding, to her now husband, Andy. Poveda also works for an IT staffing firm, TEKsystems, where she constantly applies her organizational and tactical skills which translates to her success with events and weddings. For further information, visit www. or email info@

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Announces Update on

the hospital’s $80 million expansion and renovation project is slated to begin January 2021. FWBMC released final renderings showcasing the multi-phased expansion project, which will provide many benefits to the community including the addition of 42 licensed beds, bringing the total bed count to 309. FWBMC announced initial plans for the expansion in late December 2019; the project will be completed in three phases: · Phase 1: Renovation and expansion of the cafeteria and kitchen to increase the volume and convenient pick-up options for healthy dining. · Phase 2: Expansion of the existing parking garage, adding 120 parking spots. · Phase 3: Construction of new, twostory patient tower with the capability of expanding vertically to four floors. The new tower is designed to house 18 new critical care beds and 24 step-down beds. “As our community grows, we are excited to grow along with it. All of these projects are part of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s focus on the future and commitment to improve access to high quality health care and service on behalf of our community,” stated Mitch Mongell, CEO of FWBMC. “Through this expansion, we are also looking forward to adding to our excellent team as future phases of the project are completed.”

If you have any announcements you’d like to submit for Locale, contact editor Steve Barber at Entries are subject to review or edit as space provides.

New Expansion Project Today, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) announced construction for


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VIP Destin at Legendary Marina

Kimberly & Rob Buck

Debra Emery & Bob Peavler

Jessica & Levin Bracken

photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


all of Fame Boat Dealer Legendary Marine hosted the second of three event entertainment series on the water on September 12. Coastal Distancing Tour was a huge hit with entertainment on the water within the Choctawhatchee Bay with live music followed by a featured movie on the Splashboards 60-foot big screen. Free and open to the public, the events are partnered with Amazing Lash Studio, Proffitt PR, and Step One Automotive Group. It was a huge hit in the hot and humid September weather even with a little sprinkle of showers before the movie. This was the perfect way to get your boat, kayak, paddle board, or more, and enjoy a safe way to come together as a community. Music by Eric Lindell opened up the evening, with Captain America starting at 7:00pm on the big screen. The next and last of the series will feature Ghostbusters with special guest and location announced soon. Another great part of this entertainment series is the fundraising aspect with focus on Emerald Coast Honor Games for September 12. Their organization is to “raise funds to support the defenders of the front line.� The other local charities for each of the other events was Food For Thought Outreach and Emerald Coast Autism Center.

Wettlin & Emily Treppendahl, Claire & Martin Milette, Rosanne & Jason Alley

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Bob Baird, Charlie Hoffner & Wendell Moore

Caroline & MaryFrances Mullins

Gayle Vann & Keasha Jones

Paul & Jackie Syverson

Niles Paul & Amy Brossett

Sharon Pickard, Karen Murphy, Colleen & John Riddle, Kevin Murphy

Todd Royall & Heather Hintz October 2020 | 71

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VIP Destin at Coastal Distancing Tour

Sue Baird, Debbie Moore & Pixie Hoffner

Morgan Chung-A-On & Courtney Holder

Stacey Schrock, Jenny Bates, Tad Schrock & Todd Bates

John, Kim & Brooklyn Baldree

Jason Blevins, Rob Connell & Camille Blevins

Allen & Marie Courtney

Sarah Anne Davidson, Rhonda Murray, Jessica Bracken, Ashley Flynn & Marissa Bracken

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Bracken Law, PA serves the areas of Destin, 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


(850) 792-2677 | | 30A | 2930 W. County Highway 30A, Suite 210 | Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 Holiday Plaza | 12273 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 107 | Miramar Beach, FL 32550


2014 - 2019

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2016, 2018 - 2020

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Darrell Smith

What is your hometown, what brought you here to the Emerald Coast, and how log have you lived here? Napa Valley, CA is my hometown; I have visited the Emerald Coast on multiple occasions throughout my life. The beauty of the Emerald Coast kept me coming back for more. I have been here for 15 years. What is your profession, and what led you to choose it? My current position as a Lead Concierge fits well with my outgoing personality and extensive people skills. What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? What I like the most about Destin is that no matter what stage of life you are in, there’s always a new adventure on the horizon. What are three words that best describe you? Outgoing. Adventurous. Vibrant. What are some of your favorite things about Destin? Wow! There are so many things that I like about Destin, it’s hard to narrow it down to one. It really just feels like home; like somewhere you have always been looking for and have finally found. Finish this statement, I AM DESTIN because…

photo by Shanna Magnuson

I have the opportunity to take advantage of everything Destin has to offer; from the beautiful beaches to the sunset boat rides on the bay, backyard BBQs with friends and the occasional happy hour to enjoy some of our great local spots.

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