Friday Video Highlights of Shrimp Festival

Friday Highlights of Shrimp Festival

Friday at the Shrimp Festival

Friday night kicked off the 2011 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival with an amazing number of activities all packed into a four hour evening.

Here are video highlights including shots of Opening Ceremonies, Julia Nichole Savage performing an outstanding rendition of our National Anthem, the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship contest, the Invasion of the Pirates and a Fireworks Over Fernandina display…

Saturday promises a full day of exciting entertainment, arts and craft booths, antiques, shrimp cooked in a wide variety of dishes, Pirate costume contests, a Pirate Invasion, a performance by Atlanta Rhythm Section and more.

(Full event videos will be available on SearchAmelia following the Festival’s conclusion.)

New FTC Regulations for Debt Settlement Companies

New FTC Regulations for Debt Settlement CompaniesBy: Patricia Biggs

FTC Compliance For Consumer debt Settlement mandates that any ‘for profit’ company that settles public debt via telephone must adhere to the rules laid down by FTC. It strictly prohibits the debt settlement company to ask any payment prior to settling the consumer debt. FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is an autonomous body that inspects the transparency in business, ensures safe concerns for buyers and prevents any unethical practices of private enterprises.

It scrutinizes every affair of any business entity whose activity is deemed to be harmful in the civil society. For example, if a debt Settlement Company makes falsely advertisement to promote their service, FTC might investigate it. If the allegation proves to be true, then it can lodge an administrative complaint or file a federal law suit against the company. If any debt settlement company claims to reduce a consumer’s debt by 60% or more but cannot do it in reality, FTC can penalize the company for misleading the consumers.

FTC has strictly laid down some rules that must be maintained by the service providers. Along with banning the upfront fees, it also instructs the debt settlement company to divulge every fundamental aspect of the services that a consumer is going to have. It has to disclose to the consumer how long it might take to settle his debt and to what level they could be able to reduce a client’s debt considering his specific case. They also require to disclose frankly all about the possibility of resolving a particular case after assessing the case from their past success record. However, they should not promise a consumer on the basis of a single case that they resolved in the past.

FTC reiterates that a settlement company may charge a consumer if it can settle at least one debt of the debtor. It can also charge a fee if the debtor has at the very least made a single payment as per the renewed payment agreement.

Patricia Briggs is a guest columnist, blogger, author for various websites and communities including Oak View Law Group, CCHFA, CSCDA, and more. She has completed her Post Graduation in Social Welfare from California University and is currently working with a reputed Bank located in California. She loves to write articles during her free time especially on topics like bankruptcy, investment opportunities and monetary policies.

Shrimp Festival Parade Video 2011

Shrimp Festival Parade 2011

Never too young to be a Pirate

While the rain looked like it might discourage parade attendees and participation, the Shrimp Festival powers that be, delivered another remarkable Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Parade.

Floats and entrants gathered before 4:00 in the afternoon to set their positions. People wore rain gear and carried umbrellas while delicate floats and equipment were protected under plastic sheeting. The predicted, severe storms never came, and the rains proved to be tolerable as a festive atmosphere grew; turning a grey, damp evening into smiles, music, pirates and a great parade!

Despite the rain, the crowds came out in droves to watch the parade. However, the inclimate weather in Louisville did cause a delay in the delivery of what Team SearchAmelia had originally planned to distribute from our float. At the last minute Han picked up candy and beads from the local market so we could give them to children who held open their bags and upside down ball caps… the only thing missing were the joyful cries of “Trick or Treat.”

“So, what did SearchAmelia have planned?” You are wondering. Well, as one of the sponsors of the Amelia Island Blues Festival, we were going to pass out cards inviting new viewers to come to SearchAmelia for their chance to win a VIP Package for Two to the blues concerts on September 16th and 17th, 2011. You know a spell of bad weather won’t hold us back, so look to the right column on SearchAmelia and click on the Amelia Island Blues Festival image to enter your name into the drawing.

VIP Package Includes:

(2) – VIP Two-day Passes
(2) – Blues Festival T-Shirts
(2) – Personalized Blues Festival coffee mugs
Main Stage Festival seating with private bar service
Meet & Greet with selected performing artists
Signed commemorative poster
Membership Card to the Amelia Island Blues Society

The drawing will be done during the July 14th Blues Jam at Cafe Karibo.

Look for any of us from SearchAmelia during the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and ask us for one of those parade cards… because we want YOU to win the VIP Package! We just ask one small favor in return… you don’t have to tell your friends about the contest, but please tell them about!

Here are some highlights from SearchAmelia’s view of the 2011 Shrimp Festival Pirate Parade:


Learning Community Shrimp Cooking Classes

Learning Community Shrimp Cooking Classes

Photo found at

You are most likely very excited to head downtown this weekend to check out the art, entertainment, pirates and craziness that surrounds Shrimp Festival each year. For those of you that like to eat (and who doesn’t!) you might want to consider taking one of The Learning Community of North Florida’s cooking classes rather than waiting in a long line for something greasy on a paper plate. They are reasonably close (on the corner of S 8th and Gum streets) to the Shrimp Festival epicenter, but far enough away enough for you to park comfortably in our lot.

Here is their line-up of shrimp related classes for the weekend:

    -On Friday night before the Pirate Invasion and fireworks, stop by for a light Shrimp Appetizer class at 6 PM.
    -On Saturday, check out the vendors on Centre Street and then come by for our Shrimp Soups and Salads class at 12:30 PM.
    -If you like to sleep in a bit, check out the sites and then come to our Shrimp and Seafood Delights class at 3 PM.
    -If you plan to spend all day at the festival, stop by for a relaxing Scrumptious Shrimp class at 6 PM.
    -Finally, on Sunday – if you haven’t had your fill of shrimp yet- stop by at 10:30 AM for our Shrimp for Breakfast! class.

As always, come hungry. Chef Heather Chafin will show you how to prep these dishes on site and give you the recipes for making them again and again on your own.

The best way to sign up for the classes is online – visit the website to register. You can also call, but since they will be working fast and furious on their own Shrimp Festival activities, you may need to leave us a message. They can also be reached for questions by email (

As a special treat for those attending their Shrimp Fest inspired classes, they will be giving away a certificate for a FREE cooking class for you or anyone else you want to give it to!

Of course if you are not into the festivities Amelia Island is offering up this weekend, rest assured, Monday will come and the island will slowly return to normal!!!

Cruising for a Cause

Cruising for a CauseAmelia Island, FL – The next big fund raiser organized by the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise is to help raise money for the Haiti Canaan Orphanage project. Join this fun cruise with the Amelia Island River Cruise. It is scheduled for June 11, from 11:30 am to 2pm.

Tickets are $50 per person ($25 of each ticket sold goes to the Haiti project.) You can purchase your tickets at Club Haiti Benefit Tour; under the list of cruises, click on Buy Ticket and purchase your June 11th cruise.

Be sure to get your tickets before the deadline which is May 11. The club is working to fill the large 80 seat boat first, but hopes to fill the other two 40-seat boats as well. Included in the ticket price is a box lunch from Sonny’s Bar-B-Q. Trivia games and prices are also featured. So far the club has a couple of hotel rooms as prices. We always welcome any business to help with gift certificates, or other prize donations.

Everyone is welcome to join this fun cruise for a good cause. For more information call Suzanne McLeod at (904) 662-2360. Let’s go Cruising and make a Big Splash!

Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise meets every Fridays at 7:30 am to 8:30 am at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. The public is invited to visit. For more information visit the club’s website: or contact President Art Shuster at

Wrapping Up April with Deb Cottle

Deb Cottle at EABC Amelia IslandDeb Cottle is wrapping up a busy month of Amelia Island Book signings and speaking engagements with three final events Shrimp Festival Weekend.

Earlier this month Deb was the featured speaker at the European American Business Club at The Learning Community of North Florida in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Deb delivered an impactful talk focused on her proven 4Step GUTS FORMULA. There was a book signing afterwards, for her new book called Success Simplified, which also features Dr. Stephen Covey and several other well-known author/speakers.

Deb was the featured author at a wine and cheese reception held at the Book Loft in historic Fernandina. Deb Cottle at the Book LoftOwner Sue Nelson invited special guests and customers to meet and hear Deb read from her new book, Success Simplified. Deb once again shared her 4Step GUTS FORMULA with the gathered audience and answered questions about being a first-time author!

First Federal Bank on Amelia Island held a special luncheon for their bank customers and guests during a book signing event. Deb’s motivational company, called World On A String, was featured at the bank for the month of April and Friday the 15th was the “official” book signing event for the month. The display at the bank included copies of her book Success Simplified, and her newly released CD, Music & Motivation, as well as information about the company and the services it provides to help others become more empowered in their lives!

Here is a schedule of Deb’s next three events:

April 29: Deb will be reading and signing copies of Success Simplified during a special Happy Hour at Fifi’s Fine Resale located at 1853 S. 8th Street in Fernandina Beach. This is a perfect opportunity to unwind on a Friday afternoon, maybe pick up a new outfit for the Shrimp Festival, enjoy Happy Hour and hear Deb share some of her 4Step GUTS FORMULA.

April 30: Centre Street is where all of the Shrimp Festival action is taking place and Deb will be right in the middle of it at The Book Loft, 214 Centre Street, from 9:00 AM until Noon on Saturday.

May 1st: Sunday is a repeat performance from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, again at The Book Loft. Stop by during the festival, say, “Hello” to Deb and enjoy their cool, air conditioning!

For more on Deb Cottle, please visit

Jazz Scholarship Benefit Concert

2008 Jazz Festival Poster

2008 Jazz Festival Poster

Amelia Island, FL – 18-year-old tenor saxophonist John Sheard, the winner of this year’s Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship will challenge the masters at a special Festival Preview and Scholarship Benefit Concert slated for Thursday, May 12, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, at the new Amelia Community Theatre, 209 Cedar Street, in Fernandina Beach.

Swinging with critically acclaimed veterans like Barry Greene (guitar), Ernie Ealum (bass), and Les DeMerle (drums) doesn’t appear to intimidate the sensational 18 year old Douglas Anderson School Of The Arts senior. “I feel honored to be able to play with such highly skillful musicians,” Sheard said. “It’s going to be great fun.”

John Sheard

John Sheard

DeMerle, the Festival’s Artistic Director, is up to the challenge as well. “This is kid is really something… all of us were blown away during John’s audition. We’re going to have to come out swinging hard to keep up with him.”

At the concert, DeMerle will announce the exciting 2011 festival lineup and The Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz All-Stars will preview a striking variety of jazz genres set for this year October event, including Big Band, Bebop, Jump Blues, Latin, Gypsy Swing, and Louisiana Zydeco. The Concert will also feature vocalist Bonnie Eisele, former Ray Charles sideman Al Waters (saxophone/flute), Marvin Ferebee (trumpet), and Eric Lofgren (piano).

And the Amelia Community Theatre (ACT) makes for a wonderful show in itself. DeMerle calls it “an absolutely perfect listening room with wonderful acoustics and stadium seating. It definitely will enhance the excitement of the music tenfold.”

Preview and Scholarship Benefit concert tickets will cost $25 and are available online at: (Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover) and at:

The UPS Store – Island Walk Shopping Center
1417 Sadler Road
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
(904) 277-0820

Or at the door (if not sold out in advance)

A not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Les DeMerle Amelia Island Jazz Festival distributes proceeds toward a scholarship program to fund college educations for aspiring jazz musicians.

For more information, please contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772

Or visit the website:
Email address:

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Judging the Art at Shrimp Festival

Judging the Art at Shrimp Festival

Sketches of Amelia Island by: William Maurer

The Island Art Association Shrimp Festival Committee, headed by Pat Hooks, have announced that world renown, artists and instructors, Bill Maurer and Ken Wallin will be judging the art in this year’s show.

The pair will be escorted through the festival early Saturday morning looking for distinguished pieces in a variety of mediums on display by over 305 artists participating in the Shrimp Festival and competing for $9,850 in prize money. All art work must be original and the work of the showing artist.

Winners will be selected in the following categories:

    -Paintings: Acrylics, Oils, Pastels, Watercolors
    -Mixed Media: Drawing, Printmaking
    -Creative Crafts: Baskets, Florals, Fiber, Glass, Metal, Wood

William Maurer

William Maurer

William Maurer, a gifted watercolorist, was educated at Pratt Institute, received his Master of Architecture from Harvard University and entered the premiere class of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. As an international architect, Bill traveled throughout North Africa and retired from his own firm in Morocco. Bill continues to work in his studio and conducts watercolor workshops when his schedule permits. His well-known charming street and boat scenes are illustrated in his book, Sketches Of Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach, The Mark of William Maurer is available locally or on his website at

SearchAmelia recently caught William Maurer and Tony VanHasselt logging some hours in Plein Air Painting in historic Fernandina Beach:


Ken Wallin paints with oils and studied at The New York Artists League, in the southwest and with many regional artists. Ken has combined his love and training in the arts with a Ph.D degree in counseling psychology. He has self published works in anger control, positive thinking using the arts and creativity as a tool for health and healing. In addition, Ken has published a book of his art and painting journeys around the world… The Creative Art Adventures of Ken Wallin. Ken paints in his studio and regularly offers 2-3 day workshops on St. Simons. To learn more about Ken, visit

If selected for judging, artists will find a colored sticker on their booth card and they are required to take their work to the IAA Art Education Center, so that judging can take place. Artists will know later that day, when they come to pick up their work, whether or not they have won a prize.

There will be an Island Art Association Patron Booth at the corner of Centre and N. 2nd Streets displaying information about the association and ongoing community programs. Visitors at the festival who wish may become a participating Art Patron at the Shrimp Festival, by stopping by the booth and making a commitment to purchase $100 or more from an artist vendor. The Art Patron will then be given a large, green ribbon to present to the artist vendor to display in their booth during the festival denoting a purchase.

The arts and crafts exhibit has been consistently recognized as one of the best art events in North America by Sunshine Artist Magazine and has been ranked in the Top 200 many times in recent years.

Shrimping on Island Time – Pirate Parade Info

Parade Participants at the Residence Inn

One hundred and seventeen troups and floats in this year’s Parade and according to Parade Queen Desiree Dinkel this one is the largest one yet.
In front of many of the parade participants, and the Residence Inn on Sadler Rd once again the Parade’s title sponsor, honored with  very nice buffet spread, the  Festival’s Executive Director Sandy Price started with a a brief outline of new additions to this year’s Shrimp Festival.

Announced were additions such as:
• The Maritime Museum is open for the duration with a compelling display of the Shrimp history on this island.
• There Net making demonstrations, something I would definitely like to see
• The festival is also going “hi-tech” with interactive voting where visitors are encouraged to go to the Shrimpfestival website and vote for their favorite food booths.
• For the first time the Kid zone has been declared a smoke free area
• The Shrimp Festival has specially designed T-shirts and ornaments for sale and
• Jim Dickie is this year’s Grand Marshall

Personally I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with the Atlanta Rhythm Section on Saturday afternoon. The last time I saw them was in Piedmont Park in Atlanta in the very early 1980s and they were magnificent.

Next on the agenda of informers was always funny  Parade Queen, Desiree Dinkel, who made the audience imagine the picture of 117 floats, troups and walking groups in this years parade and the enormous challenges the organization faces
There was a logistics mention of 117 times 30 ft , but I think that was a slight miscalculation. In my opinion it should be more like 117 x 100ft, which makes the parade about 2.25 mile long. Pretty impressive for a course from the park down Beech Street turning on 2nd Street and again on Centre St. which is probably a little under 2 miles total.

In those terms, it becomes clear that even though there structure of the parade does not change from year to year, the logistics, are getting a bit mind boggling.

This year the parade will feature horses and carriages and lots of bands and music. The Blues Festival has a float with live music and we, SearchAmelia, are right on their tail, with Club 14 Dancing in our slipstream. Can’t wait to film it all.

Police Captain David Bishop once again gave us the do’s and don’ts of parade participation, which is always a good reminder, just in case we’re getting too cocky and lighthearted.
He ‘s also is the ultimate weatherman for the parade. Rain or shine is standard. But recent weather forecast predicted strong thunderstorms, which by the time I’m writing this have mostly dissipated. Should they return, he may delay or cancel the parade. And if forced to cancel there will NOT be a parade this year.

In line with Fernandina Beach traditions nothing much has changed from last year or the year before with regard to safety instructions: Safety first, watch children and don’t do anything stupid.

Have a great 2011 Shrimp Festival.

Farm to Table at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island

Dessert prepared from Uncle Matt's Organic Citrus

The Farm-to-Table Movement is not exactly brandnew, but when a Brandname like the Ritz Carlton puts its stamp of approval on sustainable dining, than you may safely assume that a fad has turned into a trend.
The farm-to-table trend brings food grown or raised by local and regional farmers, fishermen and cattle raisers to restaurant kitchens for economic and environmental good, without compromising the quality of the dish.

Several weeks ago the executive chef of the Amelia Island Ritz Carlton, Berlin born Thomas Tolxdorff, did just that…put the considerable recognition of the RITZ CARLTON cuisine under the effort. To be fair, chef Tolxdorff, who has been with the Ritz Carlton here on Amelia Island for 10 years, has introduced sustainable cuisine methods ever since he arrived here. The sweeping movement of Farm-to-Table in recent years just now caught up with his philosophy of relationship building with the origins of what you serve your guests.

At a pre-dinner media conference, Chef Tolxdorff introduced four of his sustainable, organic suppliers to media representatives, during which presentation it became clear that the Ritz Carlton has a much wider approach to the term “local” than a local family owned restaurant such as for example 29 South, which grows produce sustainability in its own backyard. Different logistics, constant quality and numbers make it essential for chef Tolxdorff to find the right balance of what can be produced consistently on a local/regional level, combined with personality and quality consciousness of the supplier. Building lasting relationships with his original supply sources is Thomas Tolxdorff’s secret to sustainability and quality.

Any self respecting chef, whether in a luxury resort or  family owned specialty restaurant, wants to know his suppliers rather intimately, in order to feel good about quality, safety, availability and attention of the supplies he or she uses to build into dishes and the supplier needs to be open to accept guidance and suggestions from the Chef in terms of quality and sustainability. An important part of the Farm-to-Table philosophy is the elimination of the middle men.

Farm to Table is an exciting reconciliation of traditional methods, organic methods that were the everyday approach to farming,” said farmer Lee Jones, explaining that until refrigeration and interstate trucking came along, small farming units were the ones supplying area restaurants and supermarkets with wholesome fresh produce.

Obviously a pro on the promotional circuit of Farm to Table, The Chef’s Garden’s amiable owner Lee Jones is proud of what his family has accomplished after going through the calamity of losing their farm to industrialized produce provisioning in the late 1960s. Today he and his family oversee organic growing of some 600 varieties of heirloom and specialty vegetables, micro greens, herbs and edible flowers on their 150 acre farm in Huron, Ohio. The Chef’s Garden is the leading grower of artisanal produce in the United States for the World’s Top Chefs, born from a philosophy of “growing vegetables slowly and gently, in full accordance with nature.

Odessa Florida based Cahaba Clubs specializes in hydroponic growing of Micro Greens, Herbs and vegetables, tiny greens and lettuces and pea shoots. Owner Marvin Wilhite quipped in his introduction that this was only the second time he had ever walked into the front lobby of a Ritz Carlton, the first time was on his wedding night. He began Cahaba hydroponic growing in 1999 and proudly proclaims that even though water is his “secret” for growing organic produce, -nutrient enriched water delivered directly to the roots via micro drip irrigation-, they use less water than typical growers. 10 Acres of environmentally controlled greenhouses deliver a superior quality product, that is harvested daily on a cut to order basis and shipped nationwide. The primary use of Cahaba products is enhancing signature dishes with a unique and flavorful condiment.

Gary Reed is not only a man you can see as the personification of seafood, you also know instantly that in front of you as the real man. No show, no pretense, just a fisherman who began selling his fish out the back of a truck more than 20 years ago. He would drive his catch straight to the Orlando restaurants and filleted the fish right on the truck. There was no way to be fresher than that. Since then Gary’s Seafood Specialties has grown into one of the most respected and trusted fresh seafood suppliers in Florida, where he custom delivers from Key West to Amelia Island out of his Orlando processing facility. Many chefs consider him the go-to-man for seafood from around the world. That Gary is also a business man of caliber can be derived from the fact that several years ago he expanded in exquisite specialty products such as foie gras, pheasant,buffalo, quail and other products he had tasted and sought out in his travels around the globe

Matt McLean, owner of Uncle Matt’s Organic in Clermont Florida, produces organically grown oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, avocados and blue berries. After college and a stint in the juice brokerage business, he got back to his roots of citrus growing in the mid 1990s, followed by a complete dedication of doing this  with organically approved fertilizers such as fish emulsion, compost and seaweed. At first we worked 3 acres in his father’s backyard, but today Uncle Matt’s manages over 1,100 acres of citrus production with some 2,500 converted growers. A delicious desert of 3 citrus based delicacies was the culmination of the dinner magic served by the chef and his staff at Café 4750.

Kudos for Ritz Carlton to push the initiative of Farm to Table further into main stream and special regards to Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorff for a magnificent dinner.

Quality of Life Speaker at Rotary Sunrise

Quality of Life Speaker at Rotary Sunrise

Photo courtesy of

Amelia Island, FL – The Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise welcomed Phillip Scanlan, the Director of Amelia Island Association, Inc. (AIA), for an update on the “Nassau County Quality of Life”. His prime responsibility is to lead community teams, analyzing issues and helping to develop improvement proposals. The approach is aimed at providing a taxpayer voice on the island and county for quality of life issues such as conservation, recreation, good government, health, youth, and social well being.

Among the new programs developed by AIA, Rotarians were happy to learn about the “Adult Bikes for Barnabas” campaign. This is an AIA led program, in corporation with Barnabas, Amelia Island Trail Team, 8th St. Cycle & Fitness Center, and Katie Ride for Life, supports donations of used bikes and the financial resources to refurbish them for adults in need.

To learn more about Amelia Island Association, Inc. or how to become a member contact Phil at 491-8852 or email

The public is invited to visit the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise. Meetings are on Fridays at 7:30 am to 8:30 am at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. For more information visit the club’s website: or contact President Art Shuster at

Parking Lot and Street Closings for Shrimp Festival

Shrimp Festival Map

Click to enlarge the Shrimp Festival Map

Fernandina Beach, FL – The Shrimp Festival area encompasses all public right of ways within the historic downtown area, including the whole length of Centre Street, from 8th Street to the waterfront, and side streets one block north of Centre to Alachua and one block south of Centre to Ash, including all public parking lots.

There will be no parking within these areas after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 29, 2011 in order to allow the vendors to set up. Please make sure visitors, employee and customer vehicles are removed prior to this deadline. Violators may be towed.

City Riverfront Parking Lot B will be closed from 12:01 am, Thursday, April 28 until Midnight, Sunday, May 1. City Riverfront Parking Lot A, C and D will be closed to unauthorized vehicles from 12:01 am, Friday, April 29 until Midnight, Sunday, May 1. A portion of Lot C will be closed on Thursday, April 28. The Library parking lot will be closed from 12:01 am, Friday, April 29 until Midnight, Sunday, May 1.

Parking is prohibited on the public streets and public parking lots (including the Ash St. Lot) of the downtown Centre Street Business District (bordered by Ash St. and Alachua St. from 8th Street to the Waterfront.) from 5:00 P.M. Friday, April 29 until Midnight, Sunday, May 1.

Please do not drive into the Festival area until after Midnight, Sunday, May 1, in order to give the clean-up crew and street sweepers ample time to complete their tasks.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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University of Texas Buys Billion in Gold

University of Texas puts big sign on the Wall

A Couple of days ago someone asked me, why everyone seems to think that holding physical gold and silver is the way to protect yourself from inflationary onslaught. He claimed that the price of gold was, in much the same manner as  paper (fiat) money established by mutual agreement. When I explained that gold and silver have been money for millennia, dictated by scarcity, and paper money is nothing more than an “I Owe U” issued by the leadership of a nation, it started to dawn a bit more. Of course there is a lot more to the issue than just that. In the US and many countries around the world the current issue is debt ceiling versus how to go about dealing with debt.

As a matter of fact it is clear that all fiat currencies are in a race to the bottom. However, even with this view, a few currencies differentiate themselves. Some will cross the finish line much more quickly than others. And that is what worries a lot of fund managers and investors these days and some of their action create some form of panic.
Last Friday for example, the University of Texas Investment Management Co (UTIMCO) took delivery of 6,643 gold bars, worth slightly under one billion U.S. dollars, sending shockwaves across the gold community. This action is particularly significant here in the US because UTIMCO is the nation’s second largest university fund behind Harvard’s.

Amidst the current uncertainty surrounding U.S. sovereign debt and inflation fears, this decision looks like a good solution to lock the institution’s ownership of gold under management. But the major risk UTIMCO was trying to do away with was the possibility of surging demand for physical gold. There was another, even more significant part to this trasaction because until now few investors have taken physical delivery of bullion.  But this situation could disappear rather quickly if debt and inflation-induced fears manage to build enough demand momentum and subsequent physical delivery requests. Or, more specifically, if perception of counterparty risk among once-venerable institutions (no one is going to forget Lehman Brothers anytime soon) shifts the thinking towards taking delivery.

UTIMCO’s choice may not be a shift of cosmic proportions, but increases in demand for physical gold would definitely be a significant bullish factor for gold, which has been on a steady rise and last week surpassed US$1,500 per ounce.
And there is good reason to be on the early part of the spectrum. At thsi point no one really knows if the Federal Reserve will keep on buying our government debt after QE2 has run its course by June 30. And even if not, they have increased the number of dollars in circulation more than 3 fold in the last 12-18 months. There is no doubt that this is creating tremendous monetary inflation on the dollar. And the rest of the world has been taking notice of this.

Let’s have a look at Asia.

World Gold Council figures show that among the generally robust investment demand in 2010, there were growing volumes of physical delivery in that part of the world.
Investment activity in China remained high. Physical delivery at the Shanghai Gold Exchange totaled 836.7 tonnes in 2010, with 236.6 tonnes delivered during Q4. Moreover, physical delivery as a percentage of trading volume had increased to 33% by the fourth quarter, as Chinese investors sought to get hold of gold bullion.
Source: Gold Investment Digest Fourth quarter and full year 2010
The reasoning behind the behavior of UTIMCO and some of the Asian gold traders is rather obvious: to secure ownership of a safe-haven investment tool (physical gold) in times of uncertainty while it is still possible.
As the pace of global economic growth remains a major concern and the risk of another collapse dauntingly possible, the inclination to take physical delivery should gain popularity in other parts of the world, with significant consequences to the price of gold. In the U.S., UTIMCO set a precedent; the question now may be, “Who’s next?”

•    Best Case: For a time, post-June the Fed becomes a relatively less important player at the Treasury auctions, buying ~ $17 billion in Treasuries, vs. the $100 billion or so they are buying now, and the market responds favorably to the policy shift. The gap left by the Fed is filled in by institutions, and by friendly governments, looking to roll back their diversification into the euro and the yen – given the poor outlook for both. For a while Treasury rates remain relatively stable. And that encourages the U.S. government to continue spending willy-nilly and keeps the party for equities continuing for awhile longer, albeit with participants on edge and watching the exits for any movement. 

A rebound in the dollar, one result of an inflow of renewed foreign buying, would hit the commodities, causing them to underperform until it becomes obvious to all down the road that the Fed will have to once again begin monetizing.
•    Medium Case: Post-June, participation at the Treasury auctions weakens, but not disastrously. Rates rise, but also not disastrously. The economy teeters on the edge, but doesn’t fall. Neither does the dollar rise overly much, and something akin to a twitchy status quo continues as people wait for the other shoe to drop, as it inevitably must given that the overarching problem of sovereign and household debt has not been resolved. Volatility in equities and commodities increases, but there is no sustained move one way or the other. Yet.
•    Worst Case: Post-June, treasury auction participation falls significantly, and interest rates begin to accelerate to the upside, sending equities markets into a tailspin, dragging commodities down with them. The Fed quickly reverses course and begins writing the big checks to the Treasury, stabilizing interest rates but sending shock waves through FX markets as the dollar hits the floor and discovers the floor is made of glass.

The precious metals and other commodities soar. With nowhere else to run, investors begin bargain shopping for fallen equities – which are linked to tangible businesses, after all – and they bounce relatively quickly as well. Meanwhile, as the dollar collapses, the cost of everything begins to soar, crushing the unprepared and triggering real hardship. Unable to push interest rates higher to head off the price inflation, the Fed heads retreat to a hidden bunker and begin looking for friendly countries willing to give them sanctuary.

Of course, no one can see the future – but keep in mind that all three of those scenarios are likely to materialize in the relatively near future, one after the other from Best to Worst.

If I am right, then the way to play it is to expect a near-term rally in the dollar. While the U.S. dollar is no more than toilet paper, it is still of a better quality than the euro or the yen. Which is not to say that it doesn’t deserve its ultimate fate – the fate of all fiat currencies – but rather that, as long as the Fed shows some restraint here, it may be able to stave off that fate a bit longer.

Like in movie sequels we may witness Quantitative Easing 3, 4 even maybe 10 or more, until all roads are blocked. And with the voracious appetite for government spending, that may happen much sooner than we think.

2011 Miss Shrimp Festival Contestants

2011 Miss Shrimp Festival ContestantsFernandina Beach, FL – Twenty-seven contestant have been in rehearsals all during April for the Miss Shrimp Festival 2011 Scholarship Pageant, sponsored by the Hampton Inn & Suites, Amelia Island, “Historic Harbor Front Hotel”. The pageant winner will be crowned Queen and awarded a $1,000 Scholarship following the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Opening Ceremonies at the Riverfront Stage on Friday evening, April 29, 2011, starting at 6:30 pm.

The contestants will be chauffeured in boats provided by Redmond Boats and Yachts during the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Pirate Parade on Thursday.

Contestant Name (School-Grade)

Left to Right

Front Row 1: Samantha Bergquist (FBHS-12), Ashley Ericksen (YHS-12), Alexandra Mazur (FBHS-12), Bethany Mock (FBHS-11)

Row 2: Destiny DeBerry (YHS-12), Skyler Aiello (FBHS-12), Trinity Marshall (FBHS-12)

Row 3: Kalynn Higginbotham (WNHS-12), Emma Coombs (FBHS-12), Averi Welborn (FBHS-12), Stephanie Wit (FBHS-12)

Row 4: Victoria Jarvis (YHS-11), Taran VanderWege (FBHS-11), Elizabeth Buchanan (FBHS-11)

Row 5: Ashton Harris (FBHS-12), Taylor-Renee Owens (FBHS-11), Ashley Stearn (YHS-12), Brandi Walker (WNHS-11)

Back Row 6: Mikayla Paisley (YHS-12), Sarah Parker (FBHS-12), Perrin Bille (FBHS-11)

Not Pictured: Alexis Kostecki (FBHS-12), McKenzie Brown (FBHS-11), Emily Garvin (WNHS-12), Catherine Mullis (FBHS-12), Neely Lanier (FBHS-12), Summer Miller (FBHS-12)

Concert With a Cause Features Music of Claude Bolling

Concert With a Cause Features Music of Claude BollingThe Mouth of Amelia has once again sent word about another great evening in the “A Concert with a Cause” series featuring the wonderful, rollicking music of Claude Bolling.

Presented by Memorial United Methodist Church this concert will be performed by two consummate musicians, Pegge Ealum and Jane Lindberg.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 7:00 PM

WHERE: Memorial United Methodist Church Sanctuary located at 601 Centre Street, in historic Fernandina Beach, Florida.

WHAT: If you love good jazz, you will LOVE this concert!

WHY: To provide a special cultural experience for our community and to raise funds for UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief.) This non-profit agency of the Church reaches worldwide to provide relief in five core areas: hunger, health, refugees, emergencies and relief supplies. Goodness knows there is a great need for relief all over the world these days.

COST: The concert is free and open to the public. A love offering will be taken to support UMCOR.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Joan Averett at 904-261-5769. Nursery care is available for this performance!

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