Petanque America Day One Impressions

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Under a cloudless sky amidst a multitude of languages from around the world, the Pétanque America Tournament is fast becoming a showcase of excellent team spirit for a fantastic game of highly competitive “boule” play. Below you’ll find a photo impression of the first day of the tournament. Many Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island residents watched in awe the skillful game players throw, toss and chuck the 600 gr. cast iron balls on courts lining the waterfront marina just a stones throw of the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Today is the second and final tournament day starting with the round of the last 32 teams competing around 9:30 am this morning with an expected grand finale around 4:00 pm. Seeing that the diminished field of competitors will only occupy about half of the courts, residents and tourists alike are invited to play a round of this highly addictive game. Come out and enjoy the fine weather, see the grand masters from all over the world compete and toss a couple of balls with friends or complete strangers under ideal sunny circumstances.

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Pétanque America Tournament fabulous fun and sportsmanship

Petanque America

Petanque America

Not without a grateful nod to the beautiful weather, the first Amelia Island Pétanque America Open was a huge success. Hundreds of spectacular games gave a very appreciative Amelia Island crowd a taste of Petanque. The finals on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was a match between Xavier Thibaud’s team and Malik’s team both from The New York Pétanque Club, however after seeing the ease and accuracy of Xavier’s partner and friend, former world champion and current European shooting champion Claudy Weibel, it was no surprise that this team took top honors with a 13-3 final victory.

I will report more on the fabulous tournament, chef interviews, pictures and its annual future in Fernandina Beach tomorrow. Tonight we have to party.

Blue Door Artists Reception at Intercoastal Wine

Blue Door Artists

Blue Door Artists

The Blue Door Artists are holding a reception at the Intercoastal Wine Company at 10 North 2nd Street in historic Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, November 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Blue Door Artists is made up of local contemporary artists and offer a fine selection of art in a variety of media and genres to fit your budget and taste. Stop by and meet the artists and enjoy a glass of wine in this lovely Amelia Island venue.

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International Pétanque Tournament Has a Fabulous Start

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

As the wind is lightly calming down, dozens of competitors in this weekend’s International Petanque Tournament were crowding the courts while they were still being measured and laid out. It’s a happy crowd playing a happy game and they all said, “What a great gesture and contribution from the city of Fernandina Beach to make this tournament happen.” As it turns out, they had all been waiting for Philippe Boets, Petanque America owner, to organize another tournament since the last one in Miami in 2005.

Celebrity chef Jean Banchet signed in at 3 pm sharp and practiced most of the afternoon. Larry Cragg, guitar technician for Neil Young since 1973, who still frequently tours with him these days as banjo and steel guitar pedalist, got into a deep discussion with me about vintage guitars and string instruments which is of course was exactly up my alley.

Seeing people from all over the world greeting and re-acquainting is a very satisfying scene here on Amelia Island and we thank Philippe Boets and TJ Seaton, his assistant for pulling it off. With French music in the background it started to feel like an afternoon in the haute Provence, with special thanks to the efforts of City event coordinator Susan Hurley.

I think we’re going to have some fun this weekend. The matches are starting at around 9:30 AM both Saturday and Sunday, with the finals planned for Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM. If you have a little time on your hands this weekend, we highly recommend coming to the boat trailer parking lot in the downtown marina and watch the champions or try it yourself. It really is addictive fun.

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Sunday Musicale Where African Rhythms Fill the Air

African Drums

African Drums

The Amelia Arts Academy‘s Sunday Musicale season opener features the University of Florida Agbedidi Drummers at Horizon’s Restaurant on Sunday, November 15th. The concert follows a 5:00 PM reception and Horizons is located in Palmetto Walk shopping Center at 4828 First Coast Highway.

Founded by Mohamed DeCosta in 1995, DeCosta will be among these talented musicians. This performance will fill the air with exciting African rhythms by gifted, powerful and energetic drummers. Agbedidi, from the African Ewe language, means “long life” and this project promises a long and prosperous life for African music and dance in America.

Tickets are $40.00 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, Amelia Arts Academy, online at www.mycommunitytickets.com or at the Golf Club of Amelia Island. All proceeds benefit Amelia Arts Academy.

The Amelia Arts Academy presents the Sunday Musicale concert series of five shows that are hosted in private homes and other venues on Amelia Island.

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Evening of Story and Song Featuring Sally Barris

Sally Barris

Sally Barris

Donna Paz and Mark Kaufman are presenting an Evening of Story and Song featuring Sally Barris on Saturday, November 14. The cash wine bar opens at 7:15 with the show starting at 8:00 PM at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the corner of 8th Street and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. The tickets are only $15.00 per person to enjoy this Nashville singer and songwriter, who has written hit songs for country artists like Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride, but her style is deeply rooted in folk and Celtic music. Her beautiful voice and unique style, has her poised for a breakthrough to international recognition as a major recording artist along the lines of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Nanci Griffith.

“An Evening of Story & Song” was launched by Amelia Island music-loving residents Mark and Donna Paz Kaufman in 2005 as an all-volunteer effort to bring singers and songwriters to Amelia Island to share their music and the stories behind their songs.

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Continuing the Instructional Series on the Golf Swing

Fernandina Beach Golf

Fernandina Beach Golf

It has been a busy week or two. Sometimes you try to make time for yourself to catch up on those things that have been set aside for a rainy day. But the rain never comes and you then you are flooded with a mountain of tasks you needed to get finished days and weeks ago. Lately, that’s been me. The more I do the more behind I get. That sounded weird. A Chinese proverb states, “With money, a man can buy a watch or a clock but cannot buy time.” Sound familiar? So it’s the right time to play golf on Amelia Island. Make some time to play a round or two before Thanksgiving. The golf courses in the area are in great shape and the weather has been just short of perfect. Not too hot and not too cool.

We will continue the instructional series on the golf swing. This week we will discuss the pitch shot or the half swing. Remember the putting stroke and the chip shot before and how they are similar. Both use the shoulders and add the weight shift for the chip shot. The pitch shot does the same but adds an angle for more leverage and power after the club goes above the hips in the back swing. The wrists create a 90 degree angle with the butt end in the club, or top of the grip, pointing to the target line. On the down swing the angle is released through the ball and then recreated on the left side during the follow through while the weight is shifting, from the right to the left side, to add a little power for the right handed golfer. (The opposite for the left handed player) This shot cannot be forced. Relax and feel the pendulum motion of the shoulders swing the hands and club. Let your body understand and feel what is happening during the swing. Now that was easy.

It’s a great time to play. Come out to the Fernandina Beach Golf Club for great rates and conditions. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, with hot grilled items through 2:00 p.m. Great prices, comfortable surroundings and banquet facilities are available for large events. Did I mention the Prime Rib is the greatest? Are you looking for a game? Call the golf shop at 904-277-7370. Memberships are the best value for golf on the Island. For more information visit the web at www.fernandinabeachgolfclub.com Thank you.

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Artrageous Art Walk is Saturday Night

"Joy"  By: Casey Matthews

The Artrageous Art Walk is Saturday night, November 14. This is a walking tour of several art galleries located in downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida. As we approach the holidays it is time to start shopping for gifts and this is a great way to support our local artists and purchase some exquisite and unique gifts for those on your list.

The weather this weekend promises a beautiful fall evening to stroll around town, get a bit of exercise and make new friends from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

There is a Paper Painting exhibit at Amelia SanJon Gallery at 3rd and Ash Streets. They also feature cooper jewelry, pottery, woodwork, ceramics and glass.

Gallery C is also at 3rd and Ash Streets. Make your way upstairs to see the whimsical paintings, jewelry and handbags of Carol Winner.

While you are there check out Trish’s Slightly Off Centre. This gallery has a little bit of everything including lamps, jewelry, prints and hand crafted rolling pins, but Trish Tipton’s pottery is the main attraction.

The Island Art Association’s Nouveau Art Show runs from 5:30 to 8:30. This is a combined effort of many of our local artists who display their talents at 18 N. 2nd Street. Some of the artists will be present to show off their textiles, paintings, pottery and paintings.

The Blue Door Art Studios, located at 205 ½ Centre Street, is always a favorite stop during the Artrageous Artwalk. You’ll find treasures such as this articles image, Joy, by Casey Matthews. This is also your opportunity to take a peek at the offerings for this year’s Small Works Show. These one- of-a-kind gifts fall into anyone’s budget. The show traditionally opens during the Downtown Pajama Party held the Friday after Thanksgiving in historic Fernandina Beach. This is when the merchants open up at 8:00 AM and to make this shopping frenzy convenient for you, you are invited to come in your pajamas. As a matter of fact, those wearing their PJ’s get special discounts and the opportunity to win prizes in the costume contest!

So, come on out this Saturday night and get your holiday shopping started early!

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First Coast Bicycle Tours Welcomes Royal Highlands Group

First Coast Bicycle Tours

First Coast Bicycle Tours

The First Coast Bicycle Tours, based out of the Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast in Fernandina Beach, welcomes the Royal Highlands Bicycle Club to an Amelia Island bicycle tour scheduled for Thursday, November 12.

24 Members of the Royal Highlands Bicycle Club are living an active adult (ages 55 plus) lifestyle and First Coast Bicycle Tours has organized a scenic ride, including Amelia and Talbot Islands, and plenty of social interaction. After viewing their planned itinerary on their website, I was impressed at the level of cycling the group has in mind. Two of their excursions are portions of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, and the Amelia Island and Talbot Island routes are part of the East Coast Greenway that connects Maine to Florida thanks to the recent completion of the segment from St. Mary’s, Georgia, to Fernandina Beach, via the Amelia Island River Cruises. Not one day includes a cycling route of less than 25 miles!

Cyclists will have the option of two prearranged tours. One is a 36 mile trip led by Carmen Martinez, co-owner of Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast. She will lead her group of riders all over Amelia Island for ocean views, canopied trails and scenic marshland vistas. Option Two will take them 61 miles throughout Amelia and Talbot Islands. This excursion is led by Carmen’s partner, John Keen, of First Coast Bicycle Tours.

First Coast Bicycle Tours are fully supported tours with a ride leader, sweep and SAG vehicle and are designed for scenic riding. Their tours can be custom designed and don’t only take place in Fernandina Beach and on Amelia Island. Often the rides include oceanfront routes, marsh views and historic sites of interest in Fort George Island, Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Mary’s, Georgia; St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida.

Carmen and John are looking forward to meeting the Royal Highlands Bicycle Club members and have not just planned exciting bike routes, they also have arranged a cocktail welcome reception and oceanfront dining. Their two night stay will give these avid cyclists the opportunity to explore the bike trails of Northeast Florida while allowing them an evening without planned activities, so they can explore Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach on their own!

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USTA Men’s Futures Tennis Tournament

Amelia Island Tennis

Amelia Island Tennis

Amelia Island Plantation will host a $10,000 USTA Men’s Futures Tennis Tournament bringing players ranked as high as 200 in the world to the clay courts of Amelia Island, Florida. This return of top level tennis talent to Amelia Island will be held from November 13 ‚Äì 22, 2009 and includes:

• Qualifying Rounds, Friday (13th)-Monday (16th)
• Main Draw Matches, Tuesday (17th)-Sunday (22nd)

The first three days of the event are free to the public, followed by daily fees of $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. VIP seating is available. Just the mention of Racquet Park at the Amelia Island Plantation conjures up images of beauty, excitement and quality tennis. Navratilova, Evert, Graf, Hingis, Seles, Sampras, Connors and Agassi are among the legends that have graced the Plantation’s famed center court, home to the Bausch & Lomb or WTA Championships for 29 years. For further information, call 904-277-5145 or visit the website of Amelia Island Plantation.

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Plantation Artists Guild and Gallery Open House

Jim Plaxo, www.artsnova.com

Jim Plaxo, www.artsnova.com

There will be a reception and exhibit of new work on display at the Open House and Art Exhibit at the Plantation Artist’s Guild and Gallery. This new fall show is just in time for holiday gift giving including a collection of 8” X 10” unframed paintings in addition to the expected larger works.

Come on out and meet the artists. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, soft drinks and conversation with these talented artists.

The event will be held on Friday, November 13, 2009, from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at 94 Village Circle on Amelia Island. This is at the Spa and Shops village at the Amelia Island Plantation. For more information, please call (904) 432-1750 and ask about their showing of “Small Works of Art”.

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Fernandina Beach Marina Welcome Center

Fernandina Beach Marina Welcome Center

Fernandina Beach Marina Welcome Center

Sean McCarthy strummed the guitar while attendees arrived on a spectacular fall day on Amelia Island to celebrate the opening of the Fernandina Beach Marina Welcome Center at the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program Ceremony on November 6, 2009. Fernandina Beach Mayor, Susan Steger, welcomed citizens, dignitaries and out of town guests. City Manager, Michael Czymbor gave a brief history of the project and a timeline discussing the scope of several marina improvements that have been made in recent years, but it was Coleman Langshaw, our Marina Director, who reminded us of the horrible shape the marina had been in 14 years ago. He described how our marina is no longer held together with duct tape, but now sports state-of-the-art fuel systems, incredible shower and laundry facilities for our transient boating community, and a boater’s lounge; all fully accessible for our entire community to enjoy. He beamed announcing that Fernandina Beach’s marina is, “One of the best facilities on the East coast!”

It took many years to be awarded the grant funding, and Michael Czymbor and his staff did an excellent job satisfying the grant requirements according to Patricia Harrell of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, a light buffet of fresh shrimp was served while guests mingled with friends and toured the new marina and welcome center.

If you get the opportunity, stop by and tour the new facilities. Perhaps County Commissioner Norman Bray said it best when he announced it is time we get our slogan back from Jacksonville, because this community truly is, “Where Florida Begins!”

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A Beautiful Fall Day at the Beach on Amelia Island

Kites on the Beach

Kites on the Beach

On my way back from the official opening of the new Marina Welcome Center in historic Fernandina Beach, my eye caught a scala of fiery colors on the beach near Sliders Restaurant. Since I had my camera with me, I quickly got out and onto the beach to witness a beautiful array of color kites and different shapes, sizes and forms.

Seeing Pluto walking in the sky made me happy. Enjoying the effort of some great people launching these airstreamed beauties in a good tradewind made me want to go on a sailboat and beat the waves, but that’s for another story.

This was just gratifying for a sunny Friday afternoon, when I got that feeling again that Amelia Island is truly the coolest island on the planet… or as my guests from the party island St. Martin tell me, “There is always something going on here, but it’s all so well timed and friendly and easy going”.

I haven’t told them yet how much preparation it takes to make it all look so spontaneous.

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Island Art Association Artist Demonstration

Common Atlantic Oyster, by Bonnie Cameron

Common Atlantic Oyster, by Bonnie Cameron

The Island Art Association is inviting the public to their November general meeting for the opportunity to participate in the guest artist demonstration. Bonnie Cameron will be demonstrating her pen and ink strokes and discussing the basic techniques of her specialty. This is your opportunity to learn about pen and ink strokes and supplies will be provided.

This free meeting of the Island Art Association, located at 18 North 2nd Street in historic Fernandina Beach will be on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00 PM.

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Amelia Arts Academy Event Postponed

Amelia Arts Academy at the Peck Center

Amelia Arts Academy at the Peck Center

There has been a change of plans for the Amelia Arts Academy. Due to conflicts with Veteran’s Day, SAT testing, and all of the other exciting events occurring on Amelia Island and in NE Florida this weekend, they have decided to postpone their special thank you card making workshop.

The workshop will now be held Saturday, November 14th. Please be advised that this is mandatory for students receiving tuition assistance or scholarships to the Amelia Arts Academy.

For more details on the workshop please see our story posted on November 5.

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