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STYLE, ART, CULTURE, + EVENTS OF THE SOUTH VALLEY MAY 2017

HOME TOUR

SPECIAL FEATURE

TRAVELER'S TREK

DOWNTOWN LIVING

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

DOURO RIVER CRUISE

ECRWSS RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER LOCAL

ECRWSS PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID PORTLAND OR PERMIT NO. 2160


IN THE

Central Valley


NEXT GEN

HOME TOUR

BRITTANY WILBUR

CASA DE SCIACCA

Spreading ‘Sweet’ Love

A Renaissance of Downtown Living

Brittany, a young wife and mom, founded the Sweet Nectar Society, a ‘sweet’ non-profi t in Tulare.

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8 Letter from the Executive Editor 10 WordPlay

EPICURE

MAN BRUNCH Tazzaria

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24

The chefs at Tazzaria whipped up a manly brunch that’s a little “rough around the edges.”

12 Refl ections of Visalia: A Giant in Our Midst 16 Soirée: ImagineU Dreambuilder’s Bash— Big Dreams Become Reality Under the Big Top 46 Women in Business— Celebrating Strong Women 54 Charity: The Elks Lodge Tea 56 Kudos: Central Valley Rescue Railroad

TRAVELER’S TREK

58 Happenings

SAILING THE DOURO RIVER In Search of Fine Port Wine

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Ruth Medlin takes us on a riverboat cruise through Spain and Portugal.

COVER: Casa de Sciacca: A Renaissance of Downtown Living.“If Visalia can mark its history by the automobile’s suburban sprawl and flight from downtown living, it can now delineate a new era by a kind of return to Visalia’s 1850s roots: The renaissance of downtown living.” – Aaron Collins TOP: Casa de Sciacca is the first mixed-use retail/ apartment complex in downtown Visalia.


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Executive Editor Assistant Editor Editorial Staff Creative Director Art Director Senior Designer Web Designer/Designer Contributing Writers

Business Management

Operations Manager Advertising Sales

Sales Office

E-Mail WEBSITE View The Mag Online

DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 Karen Tellalian Kelly Lapadula Malynda Parsons Greg Bitney Marcie Vagnino Chris Bly Kaci Hansen Aaron Collins Diane Slocum Lisa McEwen Ruth Medlin Sue Burns Terry L. Ommen Malkasian Accountancy LLP Gary Malkasian CPA Jeffrey Malkasian EA Maria Gaston Melissa Olson Melissa@DMIAgency.com 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.739.1747 • Fax 559.738.0909 Lifestyle@DMIAgency.com www.VisaliaLifestyle.com Issuu.com/LifestyleMagazine Facebook.com/LifestyleMag Instagram: visalialifestyle

RACK LOCATIONS DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare

Exeter Chamber of Commerce Tazzaria Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center

Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center

COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS 210 Cafe Arts Consortium Arts Visalia Ashoori & Co. Jewelers Blend WIne Room Bravo Farms Smokehouse Café 225 Chad Clark Hair Salon Charcuterie Chelsea Street Boutique CreekSide Day Spa Skin & Laser Center Downtown Visalia Alliance Ed Dena Auto Center, Visalia Exeter Chamber of Commerce For Such a Time Boutique Franey's Design Center

Fugazzis Glick's and Co. ImagineU Children’s Museum Janeen’s Furniture Gallery Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality Max's Cookies Metropolis Day Spa Michael's Custom Jewelry Monét’s, Exeter Pacific Treasures Renaissance Salon Sage Salon Salon 525 Sherman & Associates Tazz. Coffee The Gardens at Cal Turf

The Looking Glass V Medical Spa Valley Business Bank (Downtown) Velvet Sky Visalia Ceramic Tile Visalia First Assembly Visalia Fox Theatre Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Watson's Wildflower Café, Exeter Williams, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc. Wyndham Hotel

Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia. An additional 2,500 copies are distributed at various distribution points around Visalia, Tulare, and Exeter. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers. Circulation of this issue: 15,500 © 2017 DMI Agency

The Casa de Sciacca apartments sit above the Blend Wine Room and Provoke Hair Salon in downtown Visalia. 6 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7


FR O M TH E

EDITOR

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nterprising women—I’ve known and been inspired by many throughout my professional career. From office assistants, to CEOs, to entrepreneurs, we’ve all been inspired by women who have managed to balance a strong work ethic with the needs of their families. I whole-heartedly believe many men do the same thing, balancing their own responsibilities, but today the conversation is about women. Men, we promise you’ll get your turn.

a cross-section of decidedly successful businesswomen from our community. They are bankers, business owners, realtors, and non-profit managers, each with a story to tell. We are pretty sure you’ll know most of them, and you’ll see what we mean when you turn to page 46 for profiles of some of our featured Women in Business. We must also call your attention to exciting developments in Visalia; a renaissance of downtown living. We recall when Troy Korsgaden had

From office assistants, to CEOs, to entrepreneurs, we’ve all been inspired by women who have managed to balance a strong work ethic with the needs of their families. E X E C U T I V E

E D I T O R

K A R E N

T E L L A L I A N

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT A STORY IDEA, CONTACT ME AT KAREN@DMIAGENCY.COM

Before you read this month’s Next Gen, featuring Brittany Wilbur, local photographer and founder of Sweet Nectar Society, you might want to grab a couple of tissues. As a wife and mom of two, Brittany balances a demanding schedule of running a non-profit, with the added responsibility of navigating her own daughter’s health concerns. To be inspired by Brittany’s touching story on how her family experience has turned into a passion for photographing children with serious illnesses and disabilities, turn to “Spreading ‘Sweet’ Love” on page 20. To add even more heart to her story, Brittany’s time spent with the Sweet Nectar Society is 100 percent donated. This month’s issue also includes special feature, “Women in Business,”

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the vision for a luxury residence above Crawdaddy’s—the first successful mixed-use of a building downtown. Fast-forward 10 years to Casa de Sciacca, a six-unit complex above the former Link’s Menswear store, which is the largest mixedused downtown development to date. As Millennials, empty-nesters, and commuters search for livable space downtown, they’ll want to see how Marlene and Sam Sciacca created these “cozy and luxurious” units, starting on page 24. By the time this issue hits the streets, Mother’s Day will have passed. We hope everyone enjoyed their day and were made to feel special. We look forward to seeing you again next month—please know how much we appreciate you.


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WO R D PLAY News on writing, books + the world of publishing

I

t seems there is a special day for just about everything. In May there’s Lumpy Rug Day, No Pants (or Socks, or Lost Sock) Day, Sea Monkey Day, and Odometer Day, to name a few oddities. May also hosts several days related to Space—Intergalactic Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you), International Space Day (and, redundantly, Space Day)—and the Unexplained—Paranormal Day and Twilight Zone Day. Batman, Bats, and Hug Your Cats also have their day, along with Rhinos, Chickens, Frogs, Turtles, Escargot, Pack Rats, and Legs of Lamb. Who can keep up? Star Wars Rebel Rising (Disney Lucasfilm Press, May 2) by Beth Revis tells the story of Jyn Erso as she is rescued by Saw Gerrera and learns to fight with the rebels opposing the imperial tyranny. An act of betrayal shatters her trust and causes her to question her own values. Waking Gods (Del Rey Publishing, April 4) by Sylvain Neuvel is the sequel to Sleeping Giants. Rose Franklin found the buried hand of a massive robot when she was a child. Later, as a scientist, she investigates the mystery as more pieces are found around the world. Then, alien robots threaten the earth and her task becomes finding the key to the survival of humanity. For some weird scientific facts, in a book that is humorous and educational while describing itself as “Stephen King meets Stephen Hawking,” go to And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens if You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara (Penguin, April 4) by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty, PhD. VALLEY WRITERS The Respite by the River on June 21 will be a tribute to Jon Veinberg, one of the many poets mentored by Phillip Levine and Peter Everwine at Fresno State in 10 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

the 1960s and 1970s. Jon passed away on Jan. 8, but his poetry published in his four books and one anthology of valley poets will keep his memory alive. His latest book is The Speed Limit of Clouds. His website still provides information about his life and his works. The evening by the river will begin with music by Lance Canales at 6 p.m. The tribute is at 7 p.m. with local poets reading Jon’s poems and recalling stories about him. Go to riverparkway.org for details. Sam Pereira is another Fresno State

Thanksgiving dishes must be a vital part of the story and the story must contain humor. Length must be from 1,500 to 5,000 words. Authors will receive royalties. Details at: slonightwriters. org/Upcoming-Events-ContestsSeminars-For-Members-Information. WRITING CONTESTS The North Street Book Prize will accept submissions of self-published books until June 30. Categories are General Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. A collection of short stories or essays is also eligible. Length can be up to 150,000. All entrants receive a PDF on how to get great book reviews. Winners will receive $1,500, a consultation call, BookBaby credit, and free ads. Details at: winningwriters. com/our-contests/northstreet-book-prize. WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

alumnus from the same era of prolific poetic production. He has published five books of poetry and is included in several anthologies. His poems have been featured in prestigious magazines such as The Missouri Review. Sam’s latest book of poems is Bad Angels from Nine Mile Press. He teaches Language Arts at Los Banos Junior High School. STORY SUBMISSIONS The Killer Wore Cranberry submissions close on May 31. This opportunity for publication in an anthology from Untreed Reads features stories of murder and mayhem at Thanksgiving.

The Young Adult & Middle Grade Book Writers Weekend will be July 21-23 in Corte Madera. The event, sponsored by Book Passage, features editors, agents, and authors in the genre. These include Michael Grant, Jennifer Soloway, and Mina Witteman. The Book Passage Children’s Picture Book Writers & Illustrators Weekend in Corte Madera will take place from July 28-30. Faculty includes author of 25 books, Mac Barnett; editor at Chronicle Books, Melissa Manlove; and agent Lara Perkins. Registration for each conference is $425. Private consultation for written, illustrative, or online work is an additional $95. Details for both at: bookpassage.com/conferences. THE LAST WORD “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” — Marshall McLuhan, 1911-1980.


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A current photo of the sequoia tree (right) on the west side of the downtown post office.

A GIANT IN OUR MIDST

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here is a tree in Visalia that is truly special. It stands in the heart of downtown, but few notice it, and those that do, probably don’t realize how significant it is. Why would anyone pay attention to this ordinary looking evergreen with presumably nothing noteworthy about it? But soon, sharing its history and location will change all of that, and this baby giant sequoia

standing on post office property, will have celebrity status once again. Giant sequoias are almost exclusively found growing naturally on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, usually between 4,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Visalia’s planted tree, an obvious exception, is growing at 330 feet above sea level. The scientific name of the giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, T EXT

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can sometimes be confused with the Sequoia sempervirens, or more commonly called coastal redwood. Both start life as tiny seeds about the size of a flake of oatmeal, but can grow to be huge. The coastal version is concentrated in a narrow strip along the Pacific Coast of North America and can grow to amazing heights. In fact, they are recognized as the tallest living thing, while the giant sequoias

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INSET: The giant sequoia tree as it appeared in about 1958 on the west side of the post office. View is looking northeast.


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Visalia, especially the town’s historic downtown. The site will also have smart phone access for visitor information. Her plan developed and has now gone beyond the “wish list” stage. Kay Hutmacher is finalizing the site design with the help of California Water Service’s landscape consultant, Susan Cordone. The “star” of the site will obviously be the sequoia tree. Visalia arborist, Steve Halsey, owner of Halsey’s Tree Service, did an assessment and found it to be in “fair” condition. He estimated it to be about 65 feet high and determined the trunk to be about 41 inches in circumference at breast height. He made some recommendations about irrigation, especially during the hot summer months. Soon site work will begin, and if Bianco has her way, it will be finished this summer. Obviously thrilled about the project, she is looking forward to its completion. “It will be interesting to tourists and locals alike,” she said. She added that with the support of CalWater, “We will have a demonstration garden for low water use plants and will show the connection between the Sierra snowpack and the valley.” For 81 years the historic tree has been part of downtown Visalia. By sequoia standards, it’s a baby, given that these giants can live to be 3,000 years or more. Because it is outside of its natural habitat, the odds of it living that long are slim. But who knows, it already has defied the odds. What we do know is that its years of anonymity will soon be over and its unique place in Visalia history will be known by all. About $33,000 in cash has been received, thanks especially to California Water Service, the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, and the Tulare County Historical Society. Numerous in-kind services have been donated as well and more donations would be helpful. If you or your organization would like to help support this project and have your name on the site as a donor, contact Suzanne Bianco at the non-profit Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 2734, Visalia, CA 93279. She can also be reached at (559) 3340141. The website is visitvisalia.org.

are recognized as the most massive living things by volume. But despite its shorter stature than its coastal cousin, the giant sequoia can still grow to more than 300 feet high. So how did this sequoia get to Visalia? In the winter of 1936, Guy Hopping, Superintendent of General Grant National Park (later expanded and in 1940 renamed Kings Canyon National Park), had his winter quarters in Visalia. He shared the recently finished downtown post office at 111 West Acequia with Nathan Levy, Visalia’s postmaster. Sometime that winter, the two men came up with the idea of planting giant sequoias on the post office grounds. Hopping dug up two saplings from Grant Park and carefully wrapped them in burlap with their native soil. He kept the tiny three to four year old trees in the snow within the park, then the two were brought down from the mountains to their new home in Visalia. On February 18, 1936, the Visalia Times-Delta announced the replanting on the post office grounds. One was planted in the lawn on the east side of the post office building and the other on the west side. At the time, Levy proudly pointed out that he believed Visalia had the only post office in the United States with giant sequoias. As the years went by, memories of the planting event faded and interest in the two sequoias waned. For some unknown reason, at one point the tree on the east side was removed, leaving the post office with just one tree. In 2015, as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were preparing for an event for the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial celebration, Suzanne Bianco, director of the Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau, prepared to highlight Visalia and its connection to the NPS. When she discovered that the post office had a historic sequoia tree on the west lawn, she began thinking about the possibilities of turning the tree and site into an educational feature and attraction. She felt it would further link Visalia to the well-known national parks and solidify Visalia’s status as a gateway city. In the same year, Bianco presented

her ideas for the site to her board of directors and the Visalia City Council, and all liked the idea. She continued to develop the plan, looking for funding possibilities and the important human resources that she would need. She assembled an impressive list of people including Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoias & Kings Canyon National Parks, Mark Tilchen, executive director of the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Kevin McCuster, California Water Service community affairs specialist, Matt Seals, principal of Seals Construction Company,

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Superintendent Hopping at General Grant National Park. Circa 1945 [Courtesy of the National Park Service]

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and Kay Hutmacher, landscape architect and a partner at Sierra Designs. The site plan was complicated and Bianco realized she needed this top tier group of capable people to put the ambitious project together. The plan obviously focused on the historic sequoia tree, but she also wanted the location to serve as an outdoor nature classroom for school children, residents, and visitors, complete with interpretive displays and water-wise landscape. She further wanted to encourage visitation to the nearby national parks and obviously encourage tourism to


I M A G I N E U

D R E A M B U I L D E R ’ S

B A S H

BIG DREAMS BECOME REALITY

SOIRÉE An aerialist entertains guests inside the museum.

A clown on stilts welcomes guests as they arrive.

The museum was the ideal setting for this whimsical event.

UNDER THE BIG TOP O

ne wouldn’t normally expect to find hands-on educational activities, circus acts, and an elegantly appointed dining tent all in the same place, but that’s exactly what guests at ImagineU Children’s Museum were treated to at this year’s Dreambuilder’s Bash. Clad in “cocktail chic” attire, 225 attendees were welcomed to the sold-out event by aerialists and a stilt-walker. Held for the first time at the museum, this year’s event allowed guests a more interactive and enlightening experience. Rene Lansdowne, ImagineU Museum’s board chair and event cochair, was delighted with the growth of the Dreambuilder’s Bash and was especially excited about having the event at the museum. "We always T E X T

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try to make the event fun, exciting, and interactive because the museum is interactive...being at the museum gives you a sense of what kids do there and why it's so valuable." Cocktail hour was a circus of its own, with plenty of activities to keep guests entertained; interactive displays like the “Grove Pick and Pack” and “Harmony Park” were open to all who wanted to experience them; Zuri, an African Serval Cat from Project Survival’s Cat Haven, was the “mancat” of the hour, wowing guests as he greeted them at the “Wonderful Water” exhibit; and NOCO Dance Company’s aerialists and gymnasts performed in the venue as hors d’oeuvres of hot pretzels, pigs-in blankets, and popcorn were passed. During the cocktail hour, guests

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enthusiastically bid on an extensive array of silent auction items and participated in the “Cork Pull” for a chance to win an expensive or exclusive vintage. When it was time for dinner, the crowd moved “Under the Big Top” to a tent set up on the grounds where phase II of the museum will be built. The décor was stylish and festive, with black, gold, and red balloons and sparkling top hats accentuating beautiful floral centerpieces. Mistress of Ceremonies, Nicole Ashjian of 99.3 NOW FM, called Museum Director Peter Sodhy to the stage to welcome everyone. He took a few moments to express his gratitude to the committee, board, and staff for their hard work, and to talk about the importance of the event for ImagineU. Dinner by The Vintage Press was G O O D

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groups. Activities and camps beautifully plated and beyond serve participants from ages compare. A salad of fresh greens 5-12 with no separation based and dates in light vinaigrette was age or ability. To serve as much whimsically served in a popcorn of the community as possible box, followed by sirloin steaks and encourage participation, atop spicy soft polenta and special rates are available with roasted vegetables. Dessert’s discounts for EBT cardholders fudgy brownies with scoops (a family of four can get in for of ice cream sprinkled liberally $3 each), seniors, active military, with sweet, crunchy caramel and veterans. Funds raised corn were a final culinary at the Dreambuilder's bash ode to the circus theme. help to offset these reduced After dinner, Nicole admission costs, and make field introduced Rene and Co-Chair trips to the museum possible (Honorary Board Member) for students from the area’s Cheryl Christman, who spoke 20 underserved schools. about the museum’s objectives. Auctioneer Eric Phillips kicked They expressed their deep off the live auction with Fundappreciation for the dedicated A-Field-Trip, inspiring donors support that has facilitated the to participate by purchasing museum’s past and present a $300 field trip that would success—and reiterated how provide funds for 60 children important ongoing support from underserved schools will be to its future. to visit the museum. The The Dreambuilder’s Bash generosity of the 33 donors originated five years ago as a raised $9,900, which will enable capital campaign to augment 1,920 students to venture to grant funds received to build the museum this coming the museum’s new 13,000 year with their schools. square foot facility. Now, as Following Fund-A-Fieldthe board of directors and SOIRÉE Trip, Phillips kept the energy staff work to raise capital high as he auctioned off for the next building phase, seven remarkable items. Bidders funding from the event is moving held nothing back as they vied toward operational support for a Skeet or Trap Shoot at a of the facility’s activities. This private ranch; a DJL Phantom support encompasses new and Drone; an ImagineU Princess enhanced displays designed or Pirate Party; a Disneyland to educate a wide age range, trip; a Dinner Party at Home including an indoor bee colony, by The Vintage Press; a Wild a Spelunker’s Paradise in Pig Hunt; and a South Lake the museum’s oak tree, and Tahoe Resort Getaway. a portable interview studio. It was clear that all who Staff training and technology attended had a fabulous will also receive support. evening supporting such a ImagineU Museum's new critical community cause. Rene building saw 70,000 visitors extended special thanks to (mostly from Visalia) during 2016, Cheryl and committee members the first year it was open. Peter Lisa Beno, Angela Huerta, stressed that the museum’s goal Jillian Long, Christi Metzner, is to serve everyone; the hope Debbie Nelsen, Sedelia Sanchez, is that as additional programs Chiara Sill, and Melissa Webb, are added and word spreads, as well as museum staff Peter the museum will serve a broader Sodhy and Jessica Brasher. area of Central California. “The event was extremely In addition to exploration successful and we reached our and education, the museum goal. All the guests seemed seeks to provide children really happy and excited… with opportunities for it was great to have everyone social interaction and foster at the museum so they could development of their social skills realize how amazing it was.” across age, ability, and cultural 18 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

Even the wait staff joined in on the fun.

Art and Cheryl Christman sporting the events circus theme.

Tables were decorated in a lively circus theme.

The main event took place “under the big top.”


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W I L B U R

SPREADING ‘SWEET’ LOVE B

rittany Wilbur, a young mother with infectious energy and a creative eye, is helping local

families with chronically ill children find joy in the midst of great challenges. As founder of the Sweet Nectar Society—a nonprofit that serves children with disabilities and serious illnesses through photography and community outreach— Brittany understands how crushing a child’s diagnosis can be; she’s been there herself. But Brittany has taken a chapter of her young family’s life and turned the experience into a ministry to help hundreds of children throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The children the society assists are forever dubbed as their “Sweeties.”

Looking back, Brittany admits that if someone told her 10 years ago she would be pioneering a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, she wouldn’t have believed them. “I always knew I wanted to do something to give back to the community, but I didn’t know what,” she explained. “I can see now how every stage in my life has prepared me for this. Although it wasn’t my plan, God has a plan. I am just the vessel.”

Institute of Design & Merchandising. It

LOOKING FOR A PLAN, OR NOT

introduced to a young man, Blake

A graduate of Buchanan High School in Clovis, Brittany said she didn’t excel in sports or academics. But one consistent aspect of her personality was a love of creativity. She enrolled at the San Francisco campus of the Fashion

Wilbur, who would soon become her

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was there that she learned the power of Photoshop, a photo-editing program. She decided photography was her passion, but the corporate culture that surrounded the art school stifled her creativity. Soon, she moved home to Clovis on the condition that she first find a job. She began working as a waitress, and by Christmas received her first camera as a gift. In her early 20s, she was also

husband. As Brittany told the story of their courtship, her brown eyes, framed by a cute pixie haircut, sparkled. She explained how she accompanied her mom to the Fresno-Madera Farm


Credit company Christmas party, where her mom worked and knew of a handsome intern. With some good-natured ribbing from his coworkers, Blake asked Brittany to dance. Little did he know she did not like to dance. But, the couple ended up on the dance floor all night. At the end of the evening, Brittany got in the car and told her mom, “I’m going to marry that guy!” The couple has been married for almost nine years. They had planned to start a family after five years of marriage—there were dreams of travel and kid-free fun—but three months after their wedding, the couple was surprised to learn that Brittany was pregnant. She was also in the midst of building her photography business, adjusting to married life, and living in a new town, Tulare, where Blake farms. A DIAGNOSIS OPENS DOORS At daughter Juliet’s one-year checkup, she was diagnosed with “Failure to Thrive,” a description that opens a door to the possibility of many chronic illnesses. “From that point, we were sent all over to try to figure out what was wrong with her. We got deadends everywhere,” said Brittany. During this time, Brittany also had a chance encounter with another young mother at a local restaurant who was visibly upset. When Brittany learned that the woman had just discovered her

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the punches,” said Brittany. “Because of my experience with my daughter, it also helps me gain perspective for the families we work with.” The little girl with leukemia, Abigail, was the very first “Sweetie.” According to Brittany, she is now fully recovered and excelling in school. Brittany’s daughter Juliet is also now thriving with health mysteries solved and monitored. With almost encyclopedic recall, Brittany discusses the strength and inspiration she witnesses regularly from the parents, grandparents, and siblings of the Sweeties. She refers to them as “my families,” and bringing light into dark times is her round-the-clock goal.

NEXT GEN

GROWTH FOR ALL Brittany Wilbur, founder of Sweet Nectar Society. Photo by Trisha Dean, The Good Life Photography.

daughter had leukemia, she offered to photograph the little girl before grueling treatment began. Stunned, the woman told Brittany she had just posted on a prayer wall a desire for a photographer to capture her daughter’s image. And thus, the Sweet Nectar Society was born in 2011. “When you have a child with health issues, you learn to roll with

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In the six subsequent years since the founding of the Sweet Nectar Society, the organization has grown so quickly that Brittany has joined forces with a co-founder and fellow photographer, Carrie Miranda, as well as 17 other San Joaquin Valley photographers, all of whom donate their time to the children and their families. Photographers may apply to be a volunteer and must pass a rigorous trial period. The cost-free sessions, ensuing digital images, canvas print, and photo book given to each family signifies the hope and courage of the Sweeties, some of whom have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, dwarfism, childhood

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The Sweet Nectar Studio features a play area for the “Sweeties” who come to visit.

NEXT GEN

cancer, cerebral palsy, and many other chronic conditions. Other Sweeties have a life-altering disability or injury. As a full-time volunteer, Brittany has poured her heart and soul into the Sweet Nectar Society, giving her a deeper mission for her photography skills. One year ago, the organization moved into a home at 236 South N St. in Tulare, thanks to the goodness of an anonymous donor. Since then, they’ve completely remodeled the home into a photography studio with a comfortable living space, a play area for their “Sweeties,” a dressing room stocked with outfits, and an editing office. The light-filled home will serve as a dedicated photo shoot location and support group meeting place, and as Brittany says, a place where families can “come and be comfortable.” Isolation is common, and the home will help families with chronically ill children connect. And, of course, the walls of the Sweet Nectar Studio are adorned with joyful canvas prints of “Sweeties,”

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creating a truly inspiring environment for both families and photographers. The Sweet Nectar Society also has two programs under its umbrella—the Sweet Eats program in the oncology unit at Valley Children’s Hospital, and the Focus Photography Project. Sweet Eats provides nutritious food and a comfortable area to rest for parents who are standing vigil with an ill child. It is provided in honor of Sweetie Hendrix Wille. The Focus Photography Project provides free mini-sessions once-a-month for children who share a common diagnosis. For example, the month of May will focus on children with hydrocephaly. As the Sweet Nectar Society has grown, so has Brittany’s own family. Two years ago, she and Blake welcomed their son, Axel. While balancing a demanding volunteer position and family responsibilities is a challenge at times, Brittany’s passion for both motherhood and the Sweet Nectar Society are unwavering.

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The office in the Sweet Nectar Studio.

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“I run on Pepsi,” she said with a laugh. “At every stage, doors open and I keep going.” But with a supportive husband and hundreds of grateful families, Brittany said she is fulfilled. After feeling unsettled in her teen years, unable to find her niche in the world, she said being a wife and mother who happens to share her talents with other families is a dream job. “I’ve found my niche. I truly love this,” said Brittany. “I have built my confidence, learned to stretch my comfort zone, dream big, and make things happen. It’s been cool to see. Don’t be afraid to dream big.” SPREAD THE LOVE The Sweet Nectar Society’s annual fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 27 at the International AgriCenter. For more information, go to sweetnectarsociety.org or like their page on Facebook and share the love with the “Sweeties.”

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The Sweet Nectar Studio was designed to feel like home.

Pictures of “Sweeties” line the walls of the studio.


Your Home. Your Look.

559.625.8884 220 W. Main St., Visalia www.janeensfurniture.com


CASA DE SCIACCA

A RENAISSANCE OF

DOWNTOWN LIVING T E X T

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The living area of a Casa de Sciacca apartment, staged by Marlene Sciacca and El Capitan Furniture. L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

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HOME TOUR

The Farley’s 800 sq. ft. apartment is tastefully decorated in simple décor with colorful accents.

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isalia’s Native American prehistory endured thousands of years before it was established as Fort Visalia in the mid-1800s, when early European-American settlement led to Visalia’s founding. Since then, the city’s various eras can be characterized by major sub-periods: Post-electrification; the Automobile Era that shifted patterns and reach of growth; and the post-Terminus dam era that terminated the major flooding once common in the Kaweah River watershed. Like everywhere, Visalia was affected substantially by the automobile’s mass production, which drastically changed the way cities were planned and inhabited. People once lived in downtown Visalia because it was the entire town. In the 1800s, Visalians used upper floors for residences, hotels, dance halls, brothels—all manner of businesses. But the automobile gifted Visalia and the Valley a different legacy: its ability to sprawl into rather vast residential suburbs, requiring a personal vehicle just to be livable. The automobile freed Visalia’s suburban expansion just as the dam 26 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

nullified the need for the stilted homes, such as the vertiginous Victorians that dot the perimeter of downtown, pitched high to escape frequent floodwaters. Reflecting on these bygones illustrates how differently we live now, shaped by external forces, and how swift and sweeping those changes can be.

A new phase has begun more quietly in downtown Visalia, but may prove to be no less transformational. The media have taken notice, but the impacts of a local developer’s new urban vision have only just now begun to be felt here. If Visalia can mark its history by the automobile’s suburban sprawl

and flight from downtown living, it can now delineate a new era by a kind of return to Visalia’s 1850s roots: The renaissance of downtown living. A decade ago, Troy Korsgaden built the residential/commercial mixed-use building that houses Crawdaddy’s and a third-floor luxury residential space. At Main and Bridge streets, The Mangano Company built what was intended as a mixed-use commercial/ residential building, but lost heart for the residences intended for the upper floors, converting them to office space instead. But the clear champions of downtown living are Visalia natives Marlene and Sam Sciacca, who put money where mouth is and created residential space on their own dime, without bank financing. Lots of dimes. First in 2009, the Sciaccas carved living space from the second floor above the Chelsea Street Boutique (the old Togni Branch), marking a major shift in the return of rental possibilities and new downtown Visalia lifestyles. That first conversion was only a single unit, but it made downtown Visalia livable once again. If it is any testament to whether

INSET: The Farley’s bedroom offers plenty of natural light and extra space for a love seat.


downtown living is viable, the current occupant has now resided there for seven years. The old-is-new chapter for downtown continues with the Sciacca’s follow-up project, Casa de Sciacca, so named for Sam’s mother, Margherita Sciacca and her roots in Sicily. The property opened in spring of this year and was upgraded under the guidance of Mike Fistolera of Fistolera Construction. It continues the slow unfolding of the original mixed-use vision for downtown, if a bit grander in scale and intention at 10,000 sq. ft. Getting standard bank financing for a visionary, unique real estate development is no simple matter, if not impossible. The Sciaccas funded the six-unit Casa de Sciacca themselves, and believe that more is on the way. “The reason we feel positive is that the vacancy rate is less than one percent in downtown.” But at present, other developers may be sidelined by banks’ refusal to finance construction, with financing only offered once a development is complete. Other issues arise too, said Thom Black, architect on the project. “Adding live/work spaces to a turn-of-the-century building in a mature downtown revealed trouble spots—and some moments looked like show-stoppers—but Sam and Marlene blazed the trail,” he said. “Turn-of-the-century buildings are square pegs that don’t fit in the round hole of the modern building code. We worked hand-in-hand with the building department to interpret the code to make it work,” said Thom. “Any time you tread new waters, there will be snags along the way,” said Sam Sciacca. “I’m grateful we got through the City rules and regulations. I feel we have paved the way for others to do residential over commercial. Hopefully, going forward will not be as difficult and timeconsuming,” said Sam of other developers’ prospects as they look to invest in downtown. 28 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

Not among the snags for the Sciaccas was the division of labor approach. “We do pretty good working together because we keep our responsibilities separate,” said Marlene. She worked with the “jewelry” of the building—the design elements, the architect, etc.— while Sam handled the budget and City requirements. Located in the old Sweet Building (built in 1859; where Link’s Menswear was located prior to its closing), the Sciaccas’ introduction of second floor residential units marks the largest mixed-used downtown development to date. The project’s high-end finishes and the residents’ ability to enjoy restaurants and cultural attractions carfree are all part of the allure of living in downtown Visalia. Empty nesters, single young professionals wanting proximity to Visalia’s numerous nightlife options, DINCs (dual income households/no children), and coastal second-home dwellers no longer need to maintain a large suburban footprint. “We very much enjoy living downtown within walking distance of everything you need such as restaurants, drinking establishments, grocery stores, and, most importantly, we’re only two blocks from the office,” said new downtown resident, Diane Farley, whose law firm of Farley & Farley is located on Center Street, in a building that dates back to 1888. “We enjoy walking the downtown streets and the garage stairs to get our hill work in, watching the sun come up and the town wake up, and seeing the usual group of walkers out.” The Farleys also own a home in Shell Beach, making downtown life a low-maintenance alternative to traditional home upkeep. Diane said there are benefits to downsizing, primarily no yard work and the need to clean out closets. In addition to being walking proximity to everything the couple needs, they enjoy feeling


HOME TOUR

The kitchen features luxury appliances and fixtures, including a wine fridge.

Each apartment comes with a built-in shelving unit. This apartment was styled by Bloom Group RE.

With modern and quality fixtures, even the restrooms embody luxury living.

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the "beat" of downtown, but admit there are a few minor drawbacks, including the lack of opportunity to own their residence, as yet. “It would be nice to have a parking structure for the building. Right now we park in the city lot behind the apartments. We walk more in the evenings than we used to, which is a good thing. But we have to move our cars from the parking lot behind the apartment to the office as there is a three-hour limit there and the city lot next to our office is all day parking,” said Diane, adding, “if only the wine bar downstairs served breakfast.” But Diane feels the merits far outweigh any drawbacks. “The Sciacca family did an excellent job with the interior space they had to work with and, other than finding a scaled down sofa, it was quite easy to furnish. The master bedroom is a good size. We love the wide staircase and hallway—and so

did the movers,” she said. In addition to the lifestyle upsides offered by downtown, a host of other benefits exist to infill development, says urban planning and conservation expert Adam Livingston, a graduate of the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara. “Compact growth has a number of economic benefits, including lower per capita infrastructure costs and greater local fiscal stability,” said Adam. In the long-term, however, he believes the strongest argument may be shifting demographics and changing market demand. “Many Millennials prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods with access to city amenities; they are less interested in largelot, single-family homes and car-dependent lifestyles. Developers that help meet this demand are likely to benefit,” said Adam, who serves as planning and policy

HOME TOUR

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This north-facing apartment overlooks Main Street Visalia with views of the Bank of Sierra building.


Call today for a FREE In Home Estimate

559-513-8221 w w w. s i e r r a fi n i s h c a r p e n t r y. c o m


HOME TOUR

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The kitchen area offers plenty of space to prep and entertain guests.


HOME TOUR

All of the units feature built-in entertainment centers with electric fireplaces.

director for Sequoia Riverlands Trust, the local nonprofit that advocates for responsible growth and farmland protection throughout California. “Development patterns that allow for conservation are particularly important in our region, which has some of the most productive farmland on the planet, as well as habitat essential to climate adaptation. Moreover, development patterns that allow people to be less car-dependent can help improve our region's air quality,” he said, adding that fortunately, Visalia's recent General Plan Update takes significant steps to support compact growth, maintain the City's distinctive character, and protect highly productive agricultural land at the periphery. The Sciaccas agree on the City’s pro-downtown stance. “The City was on board from the beginning; they liked the concept of having residential downtown. It has taken more than three years to complete, being that it had not been done before,” said Marlene. “The City was very careful to guide us, making sure our building

was going to be a safe environment for everyone to live and work.” In addition to the historic building’s exterior charms, its high ceilings help create an illusion of grander space than one might expect from the average 800 sq. ft. space, said Marlene. With an eye to attracting

more upscale tenants, the Sciaccas minimized moving complications by outfitting units Marlene calls “cozy and luxurious” with wine refrigerators, washer/dryer units, fireplaces, and other features that do not require additional labor and expense for tenants.

INSET: Each kitchen features a farm sink, wine fridge, and modern appliances.

“The outcome is not expressed in words, it is experienced standing in one of the units, and that energy of looking down onto our signature downtown,” said Thom. “Living downtown is definitely one of the amenities of the project that doesn’t need emphasizing.” “Coming from Sicily, finding and developing Casa de Sciacca is like Christopher Columbus finding a new America,” said Sam, a first generation Americana sentiment echoed by Marlene: “It gives us a sense of pride that we have done something that will improve our downtown for years to come. Our vision has come to life. We both love the downtown Visalia area and feel that having residential living downtown is an asset to keeping Visalia vibrant.” As more people see the merits of low-maintenance, urban living, and as developers with a grand vision and deep pockets gain confidence in the market, expect to see new infill development for a region in need of ways to preserve what is attractive. Casa de Sciacca is one more step in the right direction.

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or decades, Sunday brunch has been defined by champagne glasses, white tablecloths, and pinkies high up in the air. While an elegant brunch certainly has its time and place, there’s a new kind of brunch in town, and it’s a little "rough around the edges." With Father’s Day in mind, the chefs at Tazzaria put together a tasty brunch menu that is sure to please dad’s palate from the first bite to the last sip. From a large Porterhouse steak to a bacon stout beer float, this brunch has all of the classic breakfast favorites, but with a bit of a grittier twist.

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OATMEAL STOUT BEER FLOAT WITH CANDIED BACON INGREDIENTS

PORTERHOUSE STEAK AND EGGS

1 bottle oatmeal stout 2 scoops vanilla ice cream 2 slices bacon  Brown sugar

INGREDIENTS 1 2 lb Porterhouse steak, cut 1 T unsalted butter TT salt & pepper 2 eggs DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 425°F. On the stove, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and heat until smoking. Season steak generously with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 120 degrees for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a rimmed baking sheet and let rest before slicing. Return the skillet to the stove and fry the eggs, sunny-side up.

SUNNY-SIDE UP TWICE BAKED POTATO INGREDIENTS 4 Idaho or russet potatoes, unpeeled ½ C spinach 1 C fresh mozzarella cheese, grated ½ C heavy cream 4 eggs ½ C Parmesan cheese TT salt & pepper DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake potatoes for 45 minutes or until they are tender when pierced in the center. When the potatoes are cool, cut lengthwise in half and scoop out inside, leaving a thin shell. In a medium bowl, mash potatoes until no lumps remain. Add in the spinach, mozzarella cheese, cream, and salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Fill potato shells with the potato mixture, leaving room for the eggs. Add a sunnyside up egg to the top of the mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until the eggs are fully cooked (there should be no clear egg whites).

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DIRECTIONS Rub bacon in brown sugar and bake at 350°F until cooked, about 20 minutes. Cool in fridge. Add two large scoops of vanilla ice cream into a chilled beer glass and top with oatmeal stout beer. Garnish with candied bacon and serve.


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JALAPEÑO MULE

CHORIZO HASH

INGREDIENTS

INGREDIENTS

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced ½ oz lime juice 1½ oz Cimmarón tequila ½ oz triple sec 3 oz ginger beer

2 red potatoes, washed and cubed 3 green onions ½ yellow onion, diced roughly 3 strips bacon 2 oz chorizo TT salt & pepper shredded cheese 1 jalapeño, for garnish

DIRECTIONS Cut the jalapeño in half, lengthwise, removing the seeds and stems. Slice thinly and add to the bottom of a shaker. Muddle jalapeño and lime juice. Add the tequila and triple sec. Strain and top with ginger beer. Garnish with jalapeño and/or lime.

CLASSIC OLD FASHION INGREDIENTS 1 bar spoon sugar 2 dashes Angostura bitters 1 oz club soda 2 oz Four Roses bourbon Orange slice, for garnish

DIRECTIONS Muddle the sugar and bitters with club soda at the bottom of a chilled old fashioned glass. Add bourbon and stir. Add several ice cubes and stir until diluted. Place an orange wedge in the glass and serve.

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DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 350°F. Char a small bunch of green onions over open flame. Dice and set aside. Add a little oil to an oven-safe pan (cast-iron is preferred) and fry the bacon until crisp, roughly chop, and set aside. Fry the diced onions on the pan until tender. Add the chorizo and fry for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the cubed potatoes. Fry chorizo and potatoes for another 5 minutes or until cooked through. In the pan, mix together the potatoes, chorizo, bacon, charred green onions, and salt and pepper. Top with shredded cheese and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until cheese is melted (about 3 minutes). Garnish with jalapeño and serve.


e

THE BUTCHE

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LET THERE

BE BREAKFAST Enjoy a Hearty Butcher Inspired Breakfast or a Sweet and Savory Item From the Griddle.

New

THE BUTCHER & Baker Cafe

559.732.6439 | 604 W. Murray Ave. Visalia | Open Tues. - Fri 6 a.m. • Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m.


TRAVELER’S

TREK

The Belem Tower built in the 16th century

S A I L I N G

View from one of the terraces outside the castle in Sintra

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DOURO RIVER I N

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n the spring 2016, while sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Rome, three separate day excursions brought into focus the beauty and rich history of Portugal and Spain. First, we visited Funchal, Portugal, known for its rain forest and Teleferico cable car ride, which takes visitors up 1,800 feet to get to the forest. A return visit was a must, especially after getting a peak at the beautiful red tiled roofs atop vibrant pink and yellow buildings nestled into the mountainside. Two more stops along the way T E X T

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included Malaga and Cartagena, Spain. Malaga is an ancient city known for forts, castles, and a 16,000 seat bullfighting ring still in use today. Cartagena is an ancient Spanish naval city on the Mediterranean Sea with charming buildings and marble-covered streets. Both these locations and their sites assuredly secured a return visit to learn more about the region. Fast-forward to spring 2017 when the opportunity arose to visit both countries again, this time on a riverboat cruise down the Douro River. Make no mistake; this traveler was all-in. A N D

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The cruise itself began after a threeday land tour in and around Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon is the capitol and the largest city of Portugal with a population of 552,700. Its urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, making it the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. Lisbon is Europe’s westernmost capitol city and the only city that lies along the shores of the Atlantic coast, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Tagus River. The city is a mixture of old and M E D L I N


new. Our first day began with a guided tour of the city and a view of old Lisbon. Belém Tower (named after the word Bethlehem) was built in the 16th century to guard its port. The tower has been used to house cannon, prisoners, and even royalty. Today, it is a must-see as its architectural beauty has withstood the sea, the salt air, and the test of time. Just down the road from the tower is a more modern monument, built in the 20th century, called the Monument of the Discoveries. Through vivid architecture, this structure depicts the voyages of Portugal’s founding patron, Prince Henry the Navigator. Both sites represent a part of Portugal’s history that is rich in exploration and navigation. Perhaps one of the most unexpected and fascinating museums in the heart of Lisbon is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which houses art, furniture, sculptures, and tiles from Egypt, China, and Paris. There is even a small collection of early Lalique glass

pieces. Calouste Gulbenkian was a British-Armenian businessman and philanthropist who traveled extensively and lived in cities around the world. While he rose to wealth and fame due to his oil operation business, he also became known for his extensive collection of art, considered to be one of the greatest private collections in the world. Today, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum, started in 1956, continues to promote arts, charity, education, and science throughout the world and is among the largest foundations in Europe. The museum and foundation buildings are nestled in the Parque de Santa Gertrudes, located on Avenidas Novas. Another must-see just outside of Lisbon is the town of Sintra, known as a place to escape the summer heat of Lisbon. It has been frequented by Portugal kings as well as authors, musicians, and poets. Traveling to Sintra by bus was no easy feat, as the road

twists and hairpin turns made for an interesting and, at times, nail-biting trip. However, once inside the city, the magic of the Moorish castle, the Castelo dos Mouros, with its Magpie room ceilings and double smokestack kitchen vents, made the trip well worth the effort. Sintra is also known for its embroidered table linens and tiles. It is a small slice of Portugal that is too good to miss. The riverboat cruise began in Porto, Portugal, approximately 200 miles from Lisbon. To get there, we took a motor coach drive through Portugal’s countryside, which was remarkably like driving through the foothills of California. The highway was well maintained as we made our way through Coimbra, Portugal’s first capitol and the country’s third largest city. Today, Coimbra is home to one of the oldest universities and to the Joanina Library, gifted to the university by King Joao V. The library boasts more than 300,000 volumes and is considered to be one

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and fascinating museums in the heart of Lisbon is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which houses art, furniture, sculptures, and tiles from Egypt, China, and Paris. R U T H M E D L I N The streets in Sintra

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Gulbenkian Museum bronze bust of French King Louis XIV. 18th century artist unknown.

The Monument of the Discoveries in Belem


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1214 E Main Street, Visalia | 733-9600 | www.EdDenasVisalia.com

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The Monument of the Discoveries in Belem

The Mateus Palace

The plaza Mayor in Salamanaca, Spain

This was a journey that was rich in history, beautiful buildings and architectural design, and, of course, some of the most exquisite varietal port wines. R U T H

of the most exquisite architecturally appointed libraries in the world. The city of Porto is at the mouth of the Douro River, which winds a path through the wine region of Portugal and our ultimate destination. Porto is a UNESCO designated site. Our guided city bus tour showcased the five bridges that connect Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia; the famous Clérigos Tower, said to have been used by sailors as a guide to navigate their way through the narrow estuary to the mouth of the Atlantic; and the 19th century Stock Exchange Palace, famous for its Moorish Revival style Arab Room. As our riverboat set sail through the wine region of Portugal, we began a seven-day look at the history of wine making and the vineyards that are planted and grown on sloped or terraced land to enhance and encourage vine growth in a dry climate. Much like traveling through Central California wineries in the Paso Robles area, winery signs can be seen as one cruises down the Douro River. Each day of the cruise, our boat docked in a small town along the banks of the Douro and 44 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

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we headed by motor coach through green hills and lush valleys to visit local wine makers and sample their wines. Two highlights included a tour of the Mateus Palace and Gardens and a catered dinner at the century-old Quinta da Avessada Winery, known for its Moscatels, the most popular wine in Portugal. If the name Mateus sounds familiar, it’s because its rosé wine and distinctively shaped bottle were quite popular in the United States in the 1970s. Today, a portion of the palace is a museum, which highlights its classic baroque architecture, carved wood ceilings, 18th century furniture, and exquisite Portuguese and Chinese ceramics, belonging to the Mourão family who built the palace around 1740. The descendants of the Mourãos still reside in a part of the palace today. The Douro River begins to narrow at the town of Vega de Terron, making it impossible for the riverboat to proceed. Thus, our final land destination before we set sail back to Porto was a visit to Salamanca, Spain. As we drove along the Spanish countryside through

small villages and green hills, we saw sheep, pigs, cattle, and even storks that were busy building their nests in high, abandoned electrical lines. The two-hour bus trip brought us to the heart of one of the oldest Spanish cities, Salamanca, which is known for its university, several historic churches, and two cathedrals built in the 16th century and the 12th century. The city’s center, the Plaza Mayor, is lined with beautiful baroque buildings that lead to a university that was founded by Alfonso IX in 1218. Finally, the food hall, said to be one of the best in Spain, boasts samples of chorizos, cheeses, ham, and olive oil, all of which led to a delicious lunch of tapas at a local restaurant known for its friendly atmosphere. Our river voyage ended as it began in Porto with a flight to Madrid and then home. This was a journey that was rich in history, beautiful buildings and architectural design, and, of course, some of the most exquisite varietal port wines. And yes, perhaps even bringing home a bottle or two made for an unforgettable trip.


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WOMEN IN

BUSINESS T

his special “Women in Business" feature is dedicated to supporting and celebrating the successful and driven women who help our community thrive. From non-profit managers

to bankers and business owners, Tulare County is filled with women who go above and beyond to improve the community through their businesses, through non-profit involvement, and through a passion for serving others. Take a moment to see why these women are important to the success of this community now and for years to come.

KATHLEEN KELLY Rabobank Visalia 3443 S. Mooney Blvd, Visalia, CA 93277 (559) 741-4271 kathleen.kelly@rabobank.com www.rabobankamerica.com

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With 20 years of banking and management experience, Kathleen Kelly’s position as vice president at Rabobank on Mooney Boulevard is the perfect fit for her and for her customers. Kathleen’s experience in banking goes a step further as she is equipped with a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology and Leadership Studies. From SBA lending and mortgage transactions to business development and management, she’s done it all. As Rabobank’s VP and an active member of the community, Kathleen understands the vital role that banking plays in a town like Visalia. “Financial Institutions are necessary for the growth of the community, corporations, familyowned businesses, and non-profits, allowing the development of jobs to keep our community thriving,” said Kathleen. Founded in 1898 by Dutch farmers and small business owners who pooled their savings to provide loans to their neighbors and communities, Rabobank’s foundation provides a

unique perspective on banking in the Central Valley; the bank’s three brand values of being “Involved, Nearby, and Leading” ring true for many Visalians. Through her work as vice president and her involvement with local nonprofits, Kathleen strives to strengthen the connection between Rabobank’s customers, employees, and communities. Kathleen serves as a CASA board member, a Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias board member, and is a past president and current board member of ImagineU Children’s Museum. Both her commitment to local non-profits and her desire to be accessible to her customers and community prove that Kathleen is a shining example of what it means to be “Involved, Nearby, and Leading.” “It is important in my position to listen and provide advice to business leaders that will help them remain sustainable and grow for the betterment of our community,” said Kathleen.

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS KELLY QUINN Executive Director, Tulare-Kings Right to Life (TKRL) Kelly Quinn grew up in small-town Exeter. Excelling academically, she proved early on to show natural leadership abilities. Kelly became a cross-age tutor, overcoming the adversity of her low-income, single-parent household and would become nearly every one of her teachers’ “class helper” throughout the years. Entering into teendom was challenging. Moving to Visalia and losing the support system Kelly knew, school suddenly dropped off her priority list. She became focused on her social life and found herself having an abortion and in danger of disqualification from high school graduation. With “grit” and determination, she reversed the trend and graduated, even

MARICELA LUPERCIO, SRAS Director, Latinos4Life, Tulare-Kings Right to Life In February 2006, Mari Lupercio began Latinos4Life, the Hispanic outreach of TKRL. The mission is to repair and restore relationships and families by increasing education and communication about important life topics such as early human development, sexual risk avoidance, and healthy relationships. Mari is a wife, mother of four, and Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist. For the past 11 years, Mari has given hundreds of presentations and displayed information at a multitude of events throughout Tulare and Kings counties as well as educating and

JESS GRAVITT, SRAS Director, Voices for Life, Tulare-Kings Right to Life Jess Gravitt is a wife, mother of six, and director of Voices for Life, the youth outreach program of TKRL. Jess has a passion for her faith, family, and teaching others about the value of life. After considering abortion with her first pregnancy, she realized it wasn’t the right decision and developed her voice in standing up for life. Over the last three years Jess has worked in Tulare County with schools, churches, and organizations, educating youth

exceeding the required credits. If the adversity ended there, Kelly wouldn’t be the leader and “boss” she is today. In the midst of many more peaks and valleys, Kelly began her BA at Fresno Pacific University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2008. Working in education for five years, Kelly began volunteering for local non-profit, TKRL. This organization offered education, which Kelly saw a great need for in her community. It was through TKRL that she began processing the emotional turmoil that abortion had left behind. Plainly put by Kelly, “Abortion doesn’t prevent us from becoming parents. It makes us parents of a dead baby.” Motivated by her desire that no woman go uninformed, potentially making the wrong decision for herself and her child, Kelly joined the staff of TKRL in 2011 and later became executive director in Oct. 2015.

encouraging people of all ages through various media outlets. In 2009, the Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized Mari by awarding Lations4Life “Non-Profit of the Year.” She continues reaching out to hundreds of young people and families each year, offering free presentations and materials in English or Spanish on a variety of topics, including tips for improving parent/child communication, dating, sex, and pregnancy. Mari is a caring, open, and honest individual who seeks to make a life-long positive impact on everyone she meets. She has a passion for using her life experiences and lessons in a way that provides hope and help to others. Her approach has effectively brought these important life issues to the table and given young people and families the tools and encouragement needed to communicate more effectively, build stronger relationships, and make healthy decisions.

on dating, STD’s, early human development, abortion, and parenthood. Whether she is teaching a pre-school class about how they “grew in Mommy’s tummy,” or an audience of 1,200, Jess is open about her struggles growing up, her past decisions, and their outcomes. As a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist (SRAS), Jess is certified to teach sex-education in schools, backed by her training, current statistics, and life experiences. SRA curriculum teaches students how to achieve optimal health by making wise decisions in a committed monogamous sexual relationship. Jess travels all over Tulare and Kings Counties to spread awareness and teach the importance of these decisions, and the effects that result both immediately and far into the future.

For more info on TKRL, L4L, or VFL, please call 732-5000 or email info@tkrl.org. 48 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS GRACIE SANCHEZ (L) & D’ANN REIMER (R) Visalia Rescue Mission

Born and raised in Visalia, Sue Sa has been the proud owner of Sue Sa’s Creative Catering for almost 20 years, serving residents all around the Central Valley. More recently, she introduced Left of Center Restaurant & Private Dining to the Visalia community. Formed in March of 1998, Sue and her team are a multiawarded catering company. Sue began her restaurant and hospitality career at The Vintage Press and The Depot. Her career then led her to the Radisson Hotel in 1990 as restaurant and banquet manager, where she oversaw the bar, room service, and eventually became director of catering. With the sale of the Radisson Hotel in March of 1998, Sue Sa’s Creative Catering was born to carry on her food and beverage experience. Sue believes that, “Food is a very intricate part of every event we serve. Our personalized service sets us apart from other establishments. Our team listens to your wants and needs to guide you effortlessly through the planning and implementation of your event.” Sue is also an active member of the community, with involvement in Soroptimist International of Visalia, Visalia Chamber of Commerce, Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Tulare Chamber of Commerce, Convention Visitors Bureau Board, and Visalia Business Exchange. Because of Sue’s efforts and commitment to the community, her restaurant, on Center and Johnson streets, remains a piece of local history. In 1952, it was the Women’s Civic Club, where women of Visalia had a place to call home as the war raged in Korea. Many Visalians have lasting memories of the early years, having attended weddings, birthdays, and even ballroom dance lessons. Fast-forward 48 years, and Sue Sa continued on into the 21st Century. In August of 2016, evolving into the newly “rebranded” Left of Center, a unique, casual Latininspired place with the freshest ingredients and weekly specials. A full bar featuring Sue’s version of the Downtown Donkey—inspired by the Moscow Mule—is a huge favorite. Sue and her staff welcome guests to see what everyone is raving about. A twist of Visalia history awaits; the more things change, the more they remain the same. Dating back to 1952, the same location still offers a one-of-a-kind experience for meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers, and more.

Gracie Sanchez has overcome many obstacles over the years, including the process of restoring her relationship with her five children. "I'm excited to give back to the Mission for everything they have given me.” She graduated from Visalia Rescue Mission’s women's program in 2012 and soon after accepted a position as seasonal Administrative Assistant in the finance department in which she excelled to make it her permanent position. Gracie transitioned to VRM's community engagement coordinator in March 2017. “This new role will allow me to build new and intentional partnerships in Visalia, as well as strengthen VRM’s ties within the Hispanic community.” Gracie will also be assisting VRM’s development department with various event and outreach coordination tasks. “Gracie has shown a tremendous ability to juggle simultaneous tasks, while remaining a constant encouragement and support to those around her. We couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to share the life-changing stories from this ministry, than someone who is living a changed life.” – Ryan Stillwater, Director of Development D’Ann graduated from California State University Channel Islands in 2011 with a degree in business and began working in retail management shortly thereafter. After four years in retail, she moved to an operations management role for a dental company in hopes of following her passion to be a part of an organization that helps others. D’Ann partnered with local nonprofit organizations and set up several free dental care events with the support of clinicians in Visalia and Fresno. She accepted a position as store manager of Rescued Treasures Tulare in 2015, and has transitioned to VRM's Volunteer Coordinator in April 2017. “Volunteers make a huge impact on the lives of our residents and guests. I am thrilled to help connect our volunteers to opportunities within the Mission, where they will not just fill a need, but will be a tremendous blessing.” “She has a sincere passion to bring her gifts and talents to the Mission and specifically to develop a robust volunteer program. She is authentic in her recruitment and desires to make the perfect fit for both the volunteer and the mission.” – Sherri White, Director of Thrift Ministry

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS

JO ELLIOT AND HOLLIS ELLIOT FERNANDEZ, Visalia Realtors & Fortune Property Management Jo and Hollis are the successful local mother and daughter real estate team known for their honesty and fairness; a fact they maintain is the key to success. Both women are natives of Visalia and have long been active in community affairs as well as real estate organizations. Both women are members of County Center Rotary and Jo worked her way through the chairs to become its second woman president. Both women have served on the Board of Directors of Foodlink for Tulare County, whose mission is to feed the hungry. Hollis is currently their president. Both women are active in Networking for Women and have served as board members. Hollis is president for 2017. Jo is a past president of the Las Madrinas Guild of Valley Children’s Hospital. While being active in the community and raising families, both Jo and Hollis enjoy an excellent reputation for successfully getting the job done for their many clients. Recently, Jo and Hollis began their Silver Transitions program to help their older clients make arrangements for their futures. The goal is not necessarily to sell the family home, but instead to see that their clients enjoy as comfortable and happy of a future as possible. Sometimes a bit of outside help is all that’s necessary, and Jo and Hollis have the capability to provide all the needed help. Jo and Hollis have discovered that by staying in touch with all of today’s advanced technology, along with some good old-fashioned hard work and integrity, they can accomplish anything. 52 L I F E S T Y L E | M AY 2 0 1 7

When the mother-daughter team discovered a need for their clients to have access to a modern, uncomplicated property management company that was easy to use and dependable as well, they founded Fortune Property Management. Fortune Property Management is the answer to every property owner’s needs and to those people looking for a terrific home to rent. Jo and Hollis founded Fortune Property Management as a means for today’s fast and complex times. With the landlord’s bottom line their top concern, the mother-daughter-duo have implemented a system that makes funds available in the bank account before the tenth of each month, because they know from personal experience that everyone has bills to pay each month. Jo and Hollis are also easily accessible to the landlord and to tenants, who can call or go online 24 hours a day to voice their concerns. With their extensive experience in property management and real estate, they understand that the tenant also needs easy access to services and options to pay rent online or in-person. Jo and Hollis welcome Visalians to reach out to them for all their property management and real estate needs, whether they are looking to rent out a home or are looking for a home to rent. They are committed to working closely with residents of Visalia, whether it’s through their business, non-profit involvement, or community service.

Jo Elliot and Hollis Elliott Fernandez, Realtors Bloom Group, Inc. 1710 W. Walnut, Visalia, CA 93277 (559) 786-8353 Fortune Property Management 324 S. Santa Fe #B2, Visalia, CA 93292 (559) 633-9777 THIS IS A PAID ADVERTISEMENT


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CHARITY

(L to R) Kathy Vidak, Rindi Stone, Kaitlin DeGroot, Jane Lefler, Abigail Vidak, Teresa Vidak, and Jan Lee

One of the dancers from Visalia Dance Arts

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Jennifer Cawley

A table decorated in San Francisco Giants dĂŠcor.


Visalia Dance Arts performed a “Wizard of Oz” inspired routine

Dancers from Visalia Dance Arts

ELKS LODGE TEA PARTY T

he Elks Lodge of Visalia held their second annual Tea Party on April 29 in a room full of elaborate decorations, goodies, tea, and plenty of laughter. One hundred eighty guests gathered to help raise important funds to support the Elks Lodge charities, which go toward scholarships for local high school students, the Major Project of California, youth activities, P H O T O S

and the Elks National Foundation. In total, the event raised $7,000 to help fund these causes. In the Elks Lodge event hall, each of the 24 tables were thoughtfully decorated in various themes, ranging from classic elegance to a Dr. Seuss theme. Guest enjoyed a variety of desserts, finger sandwiches, and refreshments provided by members of B Y

A I M E E

S A

the Elks Lodge, led by Scott Nelson. The ladies were also treated to a dance performance by several talented young ladies from the Visalia Dance Arts, led by owner Teresa Vidak. The event was organized by the event chair Michelle Allen and co-chairs, Judy Staley and Jane Donald. Next year’s tea is already scheduled for March 24, 2018.

P H O T O G R A P H Y

(L to R) Alma Haury, Lisa Brown, Sherri Shiffert, and Tina Lukens.

A tea party themed table.

A table decorated in a tropical theme.

Guests enjoyed a variety of homemade desserts.

A peacock themed table.

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KUDOS

CENTRAL VALLEY RESCUE RAILROAD

BARK ‘N’ BID BENEFIT

C Entrance to Whitney Barn in Exeter.

Greg Whitney (L) with Ida and Ed Dena.

Inside the barn.

(L to R) Hayley Tashjian, Taylor Reynolds, Ivy Jones, and Layne Borba.

The auction tent before the event started.

entral Valley Rescue Railroad, a local allvolunteer, non-profit dog rescue, just hosted its 6th annual Bark ’n’ Bid Benefit at the Whitney Barn in Exeter. The evening included a delicious dinner catered by BL Quality Meats and featured raffles, silent and live auctions, music, and dancing. The donated items included everything from an evening of fine dining in downtown Visalia to a Raiders tailgate party, a trip to Las Vegas, and even a 50” TV. CVRR is committed to improving the conditions for homeless dogs in this area. In 2016 they saved the lives of 2,014 dogs and are on track to increase that number this year. The primary focus of the fundraiser was to raise enough money to begin Phase 1 of the Puppy Depot. That goal was reached and plans are underway. The Bark ’n’ Bid Benefit provides the opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled evening with great food and wine while raising money for an extremely worthy cause. Mark your calendars now for April 28, 2018. Over the next few months, CVRR will begin a big push to add volunteers to their rapidly expanding programs. For more information on how you can help, please contact BJ at 799-1775 or cvrr@cvrr.us. You can see the team in action every Saturday at Visalia PetSmart hosting adoptions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

P H O T O S Committee members, mother/daughter team Bridgette Davis and Kimmie Mendonca. 56

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HAPPENINGS

T H E AT R E & A R T S

FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK Every month, the Arts Consortium presents First Fridays to explore the Visalia Art District. During the walk, you’ll experience a diverse range of local art in the downtown Visalia area. Check out the website for more information.

ARTS VISALIA GALLERY— “CALIFORNIA’S GIANT SEQUOIAS” In May the Arts Visalia gallery will host painter Joy Collier, from Porterville, with a show entitled “California’s Giant Sequoias: Found No Where Else on Earth.” Joy paints in a postimpressionistic style and works from her own original photography and research in her studio. Her large canvasses of our local Sierra’s giant sequoias will fill the gallery space. When: The month of May Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: artsvisalia.org

THE CREATIVE CENTER PRESENTS: GREASE The performing arts department of The Creative Center presents “Grease,” a classic you won’t want to miss. Come down to the Jon Ginsburg Gallery Main Stage to watch The Creative Center actors showcase their hard work, and enjoy desserts during the evening performances. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended. Admission is $10 per person. When: May 22, 6:30 p.m.; 23, 12:30 & 6:30 p.m.; 25, 12:30 & 6:30 p.m.; 26, 12:30 p.m. Where: Jon Ginsburg Gallery, 410 Race St., Visalia Contact: 733-9329

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When: June 2, 5–8 p.m. Where: Arts Consortium, 400 N. Church St., Visalia Contact: artsconsortium.org

SECOND SATURDAY ARTISAN MARKET AT THE LOOKING GLASS From now through October, The Looking Glass in Visalia will be hosting a “Second Saturday” artisan and crafters fair. Come out and enjoy a day of shopping from local crafters. When: June 10, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Where: The Looking Glass, Court and Caldwell in Visalia Contact: thelookingglassvisalia.com


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HAPPENINGS

DIVERSIONS & EXCU R S I O N S DOWNTOWN VISALIA FARMER’S MARKET

BLUES, BREWS & BBQ

DOWNTOWN VISALIA CAR SHOW

Every Thursday evening this spring and summer, stop by downtown Visalia to shop local at the Farmers Market. Buy fresh produce, plants and flowers, and a variety of goods and hand-crafted items. When: Thursdays, now-Sept. 21, 5-8 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia at Church and Main Streets Contact: visaliafarmersmarket.com

Are you ready for the 29th Annual downtown Visalia Car Show? The Visalia Breakfast Lions Club, Groppetti Automotive, and Budweiser present a day jam-packed with activity. While you’re out viewing the cars, enjoy a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and stop in at the Visalia Fox Theatre during their open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. When: May 20, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

DOWNTOWN VISALIA EXPO Come on down to Main Street Visalia for the 7th Annual Downtown Expo, featuring food and craft vendors, live music by The Crawdad’s Band (4-6 p.m.) and Run 4 Cover (8-11 p.m.), and a fashion show. Tickets are $15 and children 12 and under are free.

Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: visaliabreakfastlions.org

When: May 19, 4-11 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: downtownvisalia.com or 732-7737

Come out to downtown Visalia for a night of live music, refreshing brews, and lots of fun. The entertainment on June 2 will be Brad Wilson and the Thundering Blues Band. Proceeds from this event benefit Visalia Emergency Aid Council. When: June 2, 6-10 p.m. Where: Garden Street Plaza, downtown Visalia Contact: 859-3682

BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS AT THE FOX Hands in the Community announces the appearance of legendary performers Blood, Sweat & Tears (BST) at the Visalia Fox Theater. BST is the first group to successfully fuse rock, blues, pop music, horn arrangements, and jazz improvisation into a hybrid that came to be known as “jazz-rock.” When: July 15, 8 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: foxvisalia.org or call Hands in the Community, 625-3822

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HAPPENINGS

DARK SKY FESTIVAL Come out to the parks for the third annual Dark Sky Festival! Share your passion for the night sky and astronomy during this fun weekend. Special programs will be taking place all weekend, including star programs, telescope demonstrations, and campfire talks. All programs are free and open to the public. Events will take place in the parks, as well as at Lake Kaweah and in the town of Three Rivers. When: July 21-23 Where: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Contact: exploresequoiakingscanyon. com

BOOTS, BREWS AND BACON FEST The Visalia Convention Center’s inaugural Boots, Brews and Bacon Fest will take place indoors this summer. Festivities will include craft brew tasting, live music from Brandon Pasion and Leaving Austin, local restaurants featuring their best bacon bite, $1,000 cash prize for the best bacon bite as voted by the attendees, and pub games. Partial proceeds will be donated to Visalia’s roller derby team, the V-Town Derby Dames. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. When: July 29, 6-10 p.m. Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: visaliatix.com or 713-4040

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C H A R I TA B L E EVENTS EXETER UNION HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC OUTDOOR FESTIVAL Come listen to the EUHS Jazz Band at the Outdoor Festival outside of the EUHS auditorium while you bid on silent auction items and enter a drawing to win a set of battle drones or an Exeter family fun basket (food and drinks will also be available). We will move inside at 7 p.m. for the choir and symphonic band concert. Silent auction items include tickets to a variety of venues including Disneyland and the SF Symphony, collectables, golf packages, gift baskets, a quadcopter drone, and lots of gift cards. Admission is free and all proceeds benefit the EUHS music program. When: May 22, 5:30 p.m. Where: Exeter Union High School Auditorium, 505 Rocky Hill Dr., Exeter Contact: 429-5142 or euhsmusicboosters.webs.com

JOHN PAUL MAGAO MEMORIAL MOTORCYCLE RIDE Come out for the 9th Annual Motorcycle Ride Fundraiser. This is a motorcycle run and we are adding vendor booths this year. The public is welcome to join us for lunch ($10 Donation) and shop from our many vendors. All proceeds to benefit Redwood High School and College of Sequoias Scholarships. Motorcycle registration is at 8 a.m. and the ride starts at 10 a.m. Free entrance to check out the vendors! When: June 10, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Where: Plaza Park Ballpark, S. Plaza Dr., Visalia Contact: johnmagaoscholarship.org

VISALIA CHAMBER ANNUAL AWARDS BANQUET

GUEST CHEF SERIES FOR FAMILY SERVICES OF TULARE COUNTY

Each year the Visalia Chamber of Commerce honors the businesses and individuals who consistently go above and beyond to support our community. This year, dozens of local people and organizations have been nominated for these prestigious awards and the winners will be announced during a night of food, fun, and community at the Visalia Convention Center. When: June 8, 6 p.m. Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: visaliachamber.org/awards

Experience delicious gourmet food and wine while supporting the mission of Family Services of Tulare County at the 9th Annual Guest Chef Series. Each year, we invite a guest chef to demonstrate a unique, three-course tasting menu. Each tasting is paired with a fine wine, and the tastings are followed by dinner, catered by David Vartanian of the Vintage Press. Guest Chef is an all-inclusive event— all food, wine, and entertainment is included with your $150 ticket. When: June 17 Where: TBA Contact: 732-1970


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ALEX LECHTMAN,

MD, FACS Board-Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Lifestyle Magazine - May 2017  

Style, art, culture, and events of the South Valley.

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