Two Expats, a Native and a Bottle of El Jimador

Baguette, Cheese and El Jimador, the party essentials

A couple of days ago our good friend Philippe Boets, the man behind Petanque America and the Annual Tournament in Downtown,  came over to our house to show me what needed to be done to get my Christmas Gift underway: a Pétanque Court in the Backyard.

For the occasion we introduced him to the most organic Happy Hour Drink we know, El Jimador Tequila, as he proclaimed to never have tasted it. As is usual during our get-togethers our conversations cover Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and from there the world. This night we ended up talking about the “old” country versus the “new” country and some involuntary comparisons always come out. As I am deeply involved in the organization of the Amelia Island Blues Festival our conversation went to the Annual Fête de la Music, a huge global music festival that started in 1982 in France and has now spread to more than 100 countries around the globe. We think huge after a couple of shots.

The Fête de la Music was first held on June 21, 1982, the day of summer solstice, a pagan night which recalls the ancient tradition of Saint John’s feasts.  Now mind you, this story is not about music, but from music it is an easy step for us to get to food and when we brought out the extra aged Dutch Cheese to complement our Tequila, the ensuing conversation planted a story to my mind. In educated, exposed opinions, food quality in the US in general, has been historically low due to a few major corporations who control the food supply with little care about quality and too much focus on price.

Although there is some truth to that assessment, in my opinion however, the American consumer is to be blamed to a large degree, even though I also believe that consumers these days are pushing for better and… are showing a willingness to pay for better.

Historically Americans in general simply don’t value quality food, at least not enough to pay extra. And yes of course I am generalizing here. Compared however to European countries, the quality of basic staples is often worlds apart.

Take for example the fresh bakery on any block in Paris, Milan, Madrid, Brussels or my hometown of Heerlen easily makes better breads than any bakery in Jacksonville, Orlando or Atlanta. As my recollection goes I only found comparable in San Francisco and New York.
Here on island I cannot get a real Baguette, although some stores and restaurants are slowly getting closer to the formula.

Two minutes from my house in little French St.Martin however I can get a couple of “sticks” for 80 cents a piece, put some Dutch Cheese on it and wake up in Heaven. Furthermore, at almost any corner, I can buy coffees to die for. Then there’s the superior-quality milk. What we refer to as organic milk in the U.S. is just “milk” over in Europe,where you can’t find the poor quality of milk sold in the U.S. supermarkets, even if you tried. And my apologies that I’m not going to get into the salamis, deli meats, and vegetables available.

These aren’t food specialties with a special place in my heart, but rather items that any person can appreciate – milk, bread, coffee, etc. There’s something very strange going on here. How can people in a country with a much lower standard of living (St.Martin) than the U.S., be eating better in many ways? It’s seems too convenient to immediately blame the big corporations like the movie Food Inc. does, but I think it is because the European system is very much based around small vendors. It’s the local bakery on the corner, the farmers’ markets; it’s the neighborhood butcher and the tiny café with the best coffee made fresh every 30 minutes. Small business supports this way of life and the consumers support them. Small communities support small business. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. That’s why I’m such a big fan of keeping Amelia Island local. Support the local small business and quality is mostly guaranteed.

But of course this comes with a price in both time and money. It’s easier to grab some sliced Wonder”bread” from a grocery store shelf than to make a special trip to the bakery shop. Even without a price difference, there’s a higher cost there. But it’s a cost that many Europeans are willing to pay. And when you’re willing to pay this price, wonderful neighborhood bakeries will exist. In Europe the pull toward the big box grocery store model started at least 40 years ago, but somehow there is a balance kept between the two models, likely because the cities are older and kind of set in their architectural ways, leaving lots of space for small businesses to deliver quality.

Now that is what I'm talking about

I do think that America is slowly turning European as far as its food tastes go. It’s impossible to ignore the recent success of businesses such as Whole Foods and Starbucks Coffee, or even the opening of the Mustard Café at the Nassau Health Store. The consumer is becoming more concerned about quality and health, not just the price. Even Walmart sells organic milk now. (On a side note, I consider organic milk to be the gateway drug to organic food. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so). Forget for a minute the Lactose intolerancy or the supposed negative health implications and drink liquid whipped cream. Woohoo. The Dutch are famous for their milk cows and dairy and yet recent surveys have found them to be the tallest, yet healthiest people in the world. The only common denominator is milk products!

So we are on the right track here in America, however, consumer sentiment still has a long way to go. A lot of my friends love organic food but complain that they can’t afford it. Well to be brutally honest, that isn’t true for most of them. They can afford it, but they don’t value the food enough to spend the money. I can’t afford a Maserati or Bugatti at the moment, but if I choose not to buy one of those cars this year, and instead drive my bike on this gorgeous island, I can easily afford to eat much better for a long long time.

It’s of course a matter of personal preference.

Folks like my grandparents would rather have a three-year supply of fresh tomatoes than a giant TV. I get my aged Dutch cheese from iGourmet, because without it my Tequila is somehow a bit harsher and I don’t have the pleasure of seeing people close their eyes in pure ecstacy after just a small taste. People in Europe drive average small cars, because the gasoline is $6-$7 dollars a gallon. They need money in their budget to live life to the fullest and because of that, a car has become a tool. That’s just the lifestyle they’re accustomed to.

Sure, at first, I thought the whole organic food movement was simply an “alternative soul” niche market. But it’s really catching on for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment and everything with lifestyle changes. Now that the trend has started, I don’t think it will stop. And that is a good thing.

Uh Philippe, “how did I end up with this story instead of a story about the upcoming Blues Festival?”  Guess it was El Jimador, a name given to the experienced Mexican farmer who selects and cultivates the legendary and unique Blue Agave; the man whose perfect blend of experience and basic instinct commands respect for these plants, whose knowing eyes identify those, which after ten years of cultivation, have reached maturity, and whose strength and skilled management of his tools, bring the finest specimens to harvest.

And that is almost poetry without a hangover.

Petanque First Prize Check Went Missing

Did the check end up in Montréal?

Yes, the large 1st Prize check has been lost since last Sunday night! No foul play is suspected but the organizers think that the unexpected but very deserving Canadian winners Messrs. Lauhlé and St.Croix had no clue about returning the check to the organizers, which was made available by Petanque America’s friendly bankers ” The First Federal Bank of Florida” on Sadler.

The tournament which attracted several hundred players from around the world to Amelia Island last week, many belonging to the absolute world top ended in somewhat of a surprise victory for the Canadian team and on Friday night when we went out with some of the last Petanquers hanging on to their week of vacation here in Fernandina Beach, I overheard at the dinner table at Le Clos, that the check has been lost since the Prize Ceremony on Sunday night.

I remember that banks started to have giant pre-printed checks available for sporting and community events some time in the 1980s. Anyone organizing an event with cash prizes could request to borrow a large check from their bank, which would become a great photography prop for the organizers and an easy picture opportunity for the press.  Obviously after the event in question, the names of the winners would be erased and the check would be returned to the bank for their next customer organizing an event with prize monies.

Well, our first prize winning Canadian friends apparently had no clue about this established tradition and seem to have taken the check back home to Montreal.

Petanque America owner Phillippe Boets and his assistant TJ Seaton hope that both men have not tried to cash the check at a banking institution, even though technically and legally a signed giant signifies a legal transaction.

With a nod of gratitude to tournament director Christophe, here are once again the names of the winning teams from the quarter finals up.

1) Jean Michel Laulhé / Stéphane St. Croix
2) Ben Gauthier / Mario Gagné
3) Alain Brunette / Yanick Laulhé
4) Eric Bertin / Xavier Thibaud
5) Marc Vendrine /Jean Banchet
6) Bernard Martin / Jean Pierre Hueaud
7) Peter Mathis / Roger Arpaïa
8) Juan Garcia / Mamary Coulibali

Petanque Open 2010 Video

Petanque Open 2010

Petanque America

The Petanque Open 2010 has come and gone on Amelia Island, but this annual event always leaves behind some wonderful memories for visitors and locals alike.

Bigger and better every year, here is some fun footage of the weekend’s competitions and the festive atmosphere at the waterfront in scenic Fernandina Beach, Florida.

I heard the T-shirts will be available on the Petanque America website.


Pétanque Open Finals a Canadian Affair

Pétanque is a lot about fun and comradery and a bit about winning

The big surprise of the very successful 2nd Petanque America Open Tournament here in Fernandina Beach last weekend was not only big, but also welcome.
Brandnew Belgian shooting world record holder, Claudy Weibel, who won the tournament last year with his New York partner Xavier, lost narrowly (13-12) in the Sweet Sixteen round, ousted by a mixed team from the Miami Petanque Club.

The Miami team in turn however got whacked in the Quarter finals that followed, by the Canadian team that ended up as runners -up after the crowd’s chants Ben, Ben, Ben… died down in a 13-6 final score.
That the final teams were very well matched may be witnessed by the fact that the sun had already gone down for about 45 minutes before the final score was announced.

By that time the Downtown Merchants bar had run out of beer, French Ricard Café had a very lively atmosphere going on, the improvised band of local musicians showed the several hundred Petanque players and their guests from around the world that they can perform in any circumstance and in front of any crowd with a musical range stretching from Django Reinhard to Creedence Clearwater Revival and a little Jimmy Hendrix to boot.

The second Petanque America tournament showed in the clearest terms possible, how much the recently passed city ordinance on serving alcohol at certain events has improved the festival’s outcome. Contained to the boat trailer parking lot near the Marina, the big tents, the little street of bars, music and at times eateries, clearly created an atmosphere that kept people on the spot.

As certain speeches during the Award Ceremony and Prize Giving confirmed, the players were very pleasantly surprised by the commitment and support the Amelia Island community and authorities have displayed for the game of Petanque. Out of the 112 teams there were almost 10 local teams represented in the competition and some of them scored impressively in this powerful field of international players.

Colson Hillier proudly stated that his team score no less than 6 points against the world champion. Collen Hodge and her husband proudly announce 2 wins before being shattered. Pete “da Meat” was playing until the darkness set in, although his score escaped me. My friend Jeff Malone played intensely and he just came into the game a couple of months ago.
As I heard this afternoon from Rae Lane at Club 14, Jeff explained it to her as: ” Once you throw that first ball, you’re sold; it’s under your skin.”

Downtown restaurateur Max Wohlfart exclaimed: ” This is THE international event of the year on this island.”

We agree, and as the word and enthusiasm spreads, French Sponsor Ricard already committed during the closing ceremonies that they will be present if next year brings the 3rd Annual Petanque America Open to Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island.

We think it is a given.

Petanque America Open off to a great Start

World Record Holder Claudy Weibel shows how to shoot

And the Petanque America Open started off with a simply amazing exhibition by Belgian superstar Claudy Weibel. Claudy started playing the game at age 5 and now 34 years later can be counted amongst the absolute top in the rapidly growing sport of Pétanque. He became worldchampion in 2000 and European Champion last year, when he also played the first Pétanque America Open here on Amelia Island.

Just last month during the World Championships in Turkey he shattered the old world record shooting with a total of 66 versus the previous 51 shots. The official recording of this event states: Charles (Claudy) Weibel (Belgium) scored a World Championship record 66 points in the qualifing round to top the standings from Bruno Leboursicaud (France) 51, J-C Lopez (Spain) 44, Jean Manea (Tahiti) and Ahmad Temizi (Malaysia) 43.

The game of Petanque, played with metal balls of 1.5 pounds (700 grams), give or take  couple of grams and a diameter of 7 cm 2.72″, give or take a couple of millimeters has essentially 3 ways of getting those “boules” closest to the piglet; pointing, looping or shooting. Claudy Weibel is a shooter. He is capable of taking a competitor out even when his ball touches the piglet.
From distances of 20 to 30 feet his balls simply knock the opponents out of the game. Imagine hitting another ball at those distances 66 times in a row. He is incredible to see here at work on Amelia Island.

It definitely leaves an impression, as it did when he showed a very appreciative crowd several techniques of playing even revealing that his balls of choice weigh 690 grams and have a 73mm diameter.

This morning the tournament started without a hitch and tournament chief Christophe was happy to see how Fernandina Beach has embraced the sport of Pétanque.

Last year was great but this year is magnificent. There is a big tent with lots of seating, audience chairs, a video tower, a bar that serves wine, beer and Ricard, the French anisette liquor that goes hand in hand with Petanque around the world, food concessions where one can also sample classic Mediterranean fare like grilled merguez (lamb sausage), paninis and crêpes, while enjoying timeless French tunes and a great international atmosphere.

A quick video invites you to come down and watch the spectacle on Sunday, November 14. For official scores go to the website

Pétanque Tournament Bigger and Better

Petanque America Open; same spot - more players

They have been coming in by the dozens if not hundreds today.
Petanque Players from Europe, the US and Canada have been flocking into Jacksonville International in anticipation of this weekend’s 2nd Pétanque America Open Tournament here in Fernandina Beach. With the city’s help and support, the courts have been expanded from 40 to 56 official courts, waiting for 112 teams to compete for top honors this year.

Much has changed since Phillipe Boets and TJ Seaton undertook the monster task of organizing an international tournament last year with a handful of volunteers.
Very few people on Amelia Island had ever hear about the French Provençial game of Pétanque, even though support was immediate and widespread.

This year is different. We have a full blown Pétanque Club with 40 to 50 regular players and even more part-timers. In one year time courts have been sprouting up all over the island in private residences, at hotels and restaurants and the city has provided permanent courts at the downtown waterfront were the tournament will take place.

We went by this afternoon to check on the progress and according to Philippe Boets, owner of Petanque America, everything is on schedule to turn out a great event.  The club members function as volunteers and have facilitated the organization of concessions, court construction, sound and power supply and so much more, to such extent that we mostly found players practicing on the courts.

French Liquor Company Ricard sent representation and some promotional tools last year, but shows a very serious promotional set up this year, while even sending down the Ricard Girls during the tournament.

Another first is that a Chicago Indie Film Producer is coming down to film the tournament for a full length movie and a documentary on the game of Pétanque.

Rather than moving 400 people across the island for the various functions and off court events, the organizer this year choose to have Award and much of the official celebrations in the big tent adjacent to the courts, leaving the players and their spouses and friends the option to get around the island and wine and dine at their choice.

The excitement is palpable and the tournament is set to start officially on Saturday morning around 9:30am.
Expect to find a little piece of the French Riviéra at Downtown Fernandina Beach’s waterfront this weekend which the city has proclaimed “Pétanque America Weekend”.

Stay tuned to Search Amelia for daily updates and news.

Pétanque Tournament on November Menu

2nd Weekend in Novemeber is Pétanque America Weekend

Remember all the hoopla and Oh lala we had going on in historic downtown last year November? We had a new kid in town and its name was Pétanque and its ambassador was Philippe Boets.

Six months earlier Philippe had moved his US headquarters from Greensboro NC to our little barrier island and introduced the population to his Boules of Steel. Not afraid to put some sweat behind his move, Philippe set his eyes on organizing on an Open Pétanque America Tournament in the second weekend of November with invitation to top players from around the world.

When he arrived on Amelia Island, only a small number of expats (like myself) had heard about the game, let alone played it. It was explained as a sister of Italian Bocce Ball and a cousin of Horseshoe. The Italian reference I could see, although in southern Italy bocce is only played on the beach, but the horseshoe comparison completely escaped me as a very distant cousin. The century old game of Pétanque originated in the French Provence and soon after its birth was adopted by Ricard Apéritives as the village square ballgame for all ages. The game requires an atmosphere of “laissez les bon temps rouler”, which is created by camraderie, sportsmanship, a certain ” je ne sais quoi” and a good mixture of laughs and spirits.

Philippe assessed correctly that such a game would have a great future on Amelia Island and in particular in and near the historic town of Fernandina Beach. In no time flat people started building courts in their back and front yards. Restaurants and Happy Hour Bars quickly saw the great fun of combining outdoor game fun with the consumption of food and beverages. A local club has been formed and counts some 40 members who play at least twice a week in varying locations. The city of Fernandina handed Philippe a proclamation that pronounced the second weekend in Fernandina the Official Pétanque America weekend. Merchants, hoteliers and private people got quickly into the game when they saw some 200 players from around North America and the world congregate in downtown giving the waterfront an impression of being on the French Riviéra. World champions showed incredible performances with these baseball size metal balls and a little piglet.

Some of the best known gourmet chefs in the world came to our shores to play in the tournament as we soon discovered that food and pétanque go hand in hand. Jacques Pepin and Michel Nischan fell in love with our island as did many of the other players. Even though the winner’s purse in that first tournament was comparably small, and would not even pay for a transatlantic roundtrip, most teams as well as last year’s undisputed top contender Belgian Claudy Weibel, are coming back this year and staying longer. Last year they didn’t now about us and our island, now they want to know a lot more. We actually hear some of them considering finding a place to live here.

World and European Champion 2000/2009 Claudy Weibel in center

Last year Philippe and his righthand woman TJ prepared for about 90 teams, some actually playing on makeshift courts at the downtown marina parking lot. Not so this time. The team count went all the way up to 120 teams, and more could have been entered, but rapid growth is a dangerous drug for any organization. So a 35% growth over last year’s event was considered enough.

“The courts will be professionally gravel packed”, says local entrepreneur Dave Mason, who was the first one to our knowledge who build a court at his home a year ago and has been practicing to make an impact in this year’s international competition. He and many of the other founding members of the local Pétanque club will take a load off Philippe and TJ’s shoulders by arranging for food concessions, product sales, court maintenance etc.

This year will also showcase a stage for live music and Philippe asked his famous concert pianist brother to come and perform old tunes during the tournament.

It only takes the weather to cooperate like it did last year and we are going to have a momentous event brewing for the weekend of November 12, 13 and 14th.   A tradition has started.

Petanque on Amelia Island

Petanque Tournament on Amelia Island

Pétanque – pronounced pet’-tonk… what’s that, I thought to myself, the first time I heard the word. After hearing several locals here on Amelia Island talk about it, I finally got a visual impression of what it was and then a friend explained that it is a French version of a game that has been played for centuries around the world aka Bocce Ball ( Italy), Horeshoes (US), Cornhole (Ohio-US),and Washers (Midwest-US), which was what I grew up playing in Southern Indiana from my back yard to camp grounds in Indiana and Kentucky State Parks. The objective of competition between players is to throw an object closer to a target than your opponent approximately 30 – 40 ft. away.

Hearing about locals playing Petanque around town at either Kafe Karibo on Wednesday nights or behind the Rec Center on Atlantic on Saturday mornings I chose to attend the latter one as Saturday mornings are usually wide open. So I decided to go and see what this was all about, but as I walked up all prepared to just watch and learn, I was instantly greeted by Philippe Boets, whom I had met at a European American Business Network meeting that two friends of mine invited me to. Not only is Phillip the owner/president of Petanque America, but this modern day Johnny Appleseed of the sport welcomed me that morning by saying Jeff take my spot and put some boules in my hands!!

I spent the next 2 hours dividing into two, three player teams and tossing softball size steel balls toward a small green plastic object about the size of a super ball, called a pig.
Growing up in a competitive family I fit right in, but just equally enjoyable was the camaraderie of meeting and conversing with people who have come to love the game and love seeing friends in the fellowship of the event. This brought back fond memories of those campgrounds I visited with my family meeting families from other parts of the country playing a similar game over 40 years ago.

If you want to tap in to this growing sport and possibly actively revisit your childhood memories, check out or better yet visit one of the two venues and be lucky enough to hear the words “Take My Spot!”. Don’t forget that the America Open Tournament is coming to Fernandina Beach in November with 96 teams converging from all over the world and it is rumored that some of the world’s leading competitors will be here.

Jeff Malone – Director of Sales Hampton Inn at the Beach

Indie Movie Planned for Petanque America Tournament

in 60 days Petanque America's Open is here again

With the Pétanque America Open coming up in November, UBK Studios, a low or  better yet “non funded” group of cinematographers from Chicago is trying to raise enough funds for travel expenses from Chicago, IL to Amelia Island, Florida  for 3-4 crew members.
Now UBK got a good shot of international recognition when they first learned about the game while traveling to Cannes France as part of the Cannes Film Festival. As a result they produced a short documentary about the game of Pétanque, titled “Ludo”, which won an award for best Cinematography at the Real Ideas Studio Festival.

Shortly after this, UBK was contacted by Philippe Boets from Pétanque America here on Amelia Island, who discussed the opportunity to document the 2nd Pétanque America Tournament on Amelia Island on November 12,13 and 14 this year. The idea is for UBK to produce a short instructional film as well as a 30 minute newstype coverage of the festival itself. And beyond that they plan on making a feature length documentary on the game and the people who play it. Another chance for Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island to get on the big screen, after just completing another Indie production “The Diary of Preston Plummer” with Rumer Willis and Trevor Morgan.

UBK is a small highly enthusiastic group of young film makers without big budgets. So they are currently looking for help of any kind to make this film a reality. For more info you can check out – – and their Facebook Fan Page.

To get an idea of what they are looking for in assistance, we’re talking rental cost for Canon DSLR Cameras, audio equipment, lighting kits, music licensing rights and DVD Duplication.

As you may know the word pétanque in English is more bastardized than the sounds of pecan and finding videos is even more difficult. After watching “LUDO” it is briliantly apparent that these guys UBK know their stuff and through their proposed dvd, will give pétanque a huge shot in the arm here in the States.
Just on Amelia Island, the game has found so many players in less than one year time that court space is looking for expansion. Philippe Boets already announced that this year’s players could have easily surpassed 200, if there would have been enough court spaces. As it is the maximum has been set at 96 teams, which will give the island a nice boost of 300 to 400 visitors from around the US and the globe.
Visit UBK Studios Pétanque Promo to watch the pétanque promo.

For information on how you can contribute to this worthwhile cause contact UBK Studios directly, send us an email at and we’ll forward it to the right people or contact Philippe at
and….make sure to mark the November dates on your calendar. It’s going to be serious fun.

The Beach was Empty this Morning

Southern Tailgate Cook Off on Main Beach, Amelia Island

Yesterday morning, Labor Day, there were at least 500 people walking the beach at 7am, with a good amount of vehicles parked near Sliders in the distance.
This morning? I met a total of 3 women and 2 guys jogging in my 45 minute walk and one lonely vehicle, probably left there from a party last night.

The Summer Tourist season 2010 is drawing to a close and we can only hope that businesses on the island that depend on visitors did well enough to sustain themselves until the next season comes along, or at least until some of the exposure that Amelia Island has been getting lately can be exchanged into a longer season with yet  more quality visits.
In recent time the island has become a staple of recommendation in Condé Nast Traveler, received accolades in the September issue of Coastal Living, got a great write-up earlier this year in the New York Times and is a feature destination in October’s Marine Life Magazine, besides numerous mentions and  industry awards.

With a little help from our friends

A famous hurricane expression amplifies that “there is no storm that blows evil for everyone”.  Amelia Island has been ready for the “big” exposure for years, yet it took this year’s unfortunate oil leak disaster in the Gulf in early spring, to give us that a special push to awareness. Many vacations planned for the Louisiana Wetlands, Mississippi’s Biloxi and Gulfport beaches and the Florida Panhandle were redirected in favor of the Florida Atlantic coast and Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach got its fair share of that traffic.
The advantage of the island as a vacation destination is that it does not need any preparation. No matter how when or what, all the ingredients for a fabulous vacation are always in place, aided by the fact that the weather is usually magnificent. The beaches are long, wide and clean, the resort hotels, B & B’s and Inns offer a product and price range for everyone and Historic Fernandina Beach is a great location when the beach and sun have taken their “toll”.

This year we also noticed that initiative from various charities, companies and individuals expanded the entertainment offerings.
We enjoyed the usual first Friday in the month Sounds on Centre in town, which now between June and Sept. was followed by Sunsplash on the Beach at Seaside Park. Organized by Pipeline Surfshop and Jeff Barksdale’s Big O Events productions, Sunsplash brought everything for a day on the beach: kids activities, surfing, volleyball, fashion and bikini shows and lots of good music.
There was another remarkable first this summer when the Convention and Visitor Bureau attracted the Southern Tailgate BBQ Cook Off for two days of food and fun on Main Beach which attracted thousands of visitors over the last weekend in August.
Actually there were so many events prepared and held this summer, that a short break would seem like a welcome reprieve for many of the organizers.

But that’s not how it works on this island.
Now the “niche” organizations are getting ready to push their events, fundraisers and festivities, from the world famous Ritz Carlton organizing “The Flavor of Salt Tour” which highlights the Cuisine and Wines of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal and the Balearic Islands) on its Sept. 16 rendition, to Tennis at the Amelia Island Plantation. In October we welcome the Amelia Cruizers and their signature 8-Flags Car Show in Downtown on October 16, followed by The Rotary Club of Amelia-Sunrise new initiative called Ameia Challenge on October 23 and a week later the island will be busting with Florida-Georgia Football “fanatics”.

On November 12 we will see the start of the 2nd Pétanque America International Open Tournament with once again players from around the globe checking in, while at the same time Amelia Island Plantation will be the host spot for a 9 day USTA $10,000 Futures Tennis Tournament.

Just check out the calendars on SearchAmelia and we will try to keep you updated on major and minor events that will keep attracting visitors to our beautiful island, whether for a day, a weekend or longer.

Saturday Morning Petanque [Video]

Saturday Morning Petanque

Saturday Morning Petanque

Saturday mornings in Fernandina Beach, Florida means Petanque! Various teams and individuals arrive at the waterfront in historic Fernandina to get their weekly fix of this friendly game.

The game is extremely well know in the European countries but is catching on like wildfire in the United States and Amelia Island is no exception!

Watch the video anytime you like, but you are welcome to come out and play on any Saturday morning at 9:30 AM at the south end of the marina’s many parking lots.

Mark you calendars now! The Petanque America Open 2010 will be played on Amelia Island, Florida on November 12, 13 & 14, 2010.

After you watch the video, please comment and tell us what you think the woman at the end of the video is saying. You can only guess, if you are fluent in French please hold off on your response!


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Petanque Tournament Results

Petanque Tournament

Petanque Tournament

I played my first Petanque tournament this weekend and had a great time. Though the wind made it a little chilly, I still ended up with a sunburned nose.

Each team played five games, three in the morning and two after lunch. The schedule may not sound brutal, but that was a lot of Pentanque played in one day! I enjoyed each and every game and made many new friends on the courts who also enjoy the game. The biggest surprise of the day was when the Lonely Boules Team, headed by Aubrey Dahl, knocked off the number one team going into the final game. This took the number one team down to third place. It just goes to show you that anyone can play this game and win!

Even though our SearchAmelia Team had never played Petanque together, we quickly developed a strategy highlighting each of our strengths and it proved a successful formula.

Thanks to all who came to play and watch and I hope to play in many more local tournaments.

Here are the official results of the Pentanque tournament that was played in Fernandina Beach Saturday. (Please make note of the team that came in second place!)

“Ranking was based on (a) games won and (b) point spread.

Prize winners:
1. Carolina Petanque (with a 33% Fernandina input) Gary, Shirley & Jeff
2. SearchAmelia – Han, Thom & Lawrence
3. Cool Boules “Chillin” – David, Bobby & Will
4. Boules de Leon – Daniel, Gary & Alex
5. Les Screwboules – Lynda, Maleana & Colson
6. Meat Boules – Bryan, Pete & Charlie

The other teams were “Dazed & Confused”, “Boules of Fire”, “Palm Pelicans”, “We are the Closest”, and 4 teams that had hardly ever touched a boule, but were on a roll just as well: “PAC Beach Boules”, “Westrec”, “Boules of Steel” and “The Big Kahunas”.

As always, it was wonderful to see players, most of whom had never met, and some over 60 years apart in age, high fiving, cheering, and cracking jokes all day long. To be repeated, without a doubt.”

Thank you Petanque America for putting on such a fun event!

Petanque is a Game for All Ages

Petanque with Grandma

Petanque with Grandma

If you are interested in finding a new hobby or game that can be played at a family gathering then you should try Petanque. This game is a lot more fun than it looks! Last week I played for my first time and immediately got hooked. The game itself is very simple. You’ve got three metal balls that you try to throw closer to a small wooden ball than your opponent. It’s kind of like horseshoes, but Petanque can be played just about anywhere (and the real way to play is to throw the balls with one hand and hold your drink in the other).

The first time I played Petanque I played with a couple of guys and gals, and one older gentleman was using a walker. Imagine that, a guy on a walker can play this game and do as well as a guy in his twenties! After the game we all went out and grabbed a beer together at a local pub. Petanque is a social game. Today at a family gathering I taught my ninety-year old great grandmother to play… and she beat me!

Measuring Petanque Unofficially

Measuring Petanque Unofficially

Well my 10-year old cousin wanted to play, so I taught her and she had a blast! My aunt was so intrigued by the game that she wanted to purchase her own set of Petanque balls so she could take the game back home to Kentucky!

If anyone out there is interested in trying out a game of Petanque, come to the harbor front in downtown Fernandina Beach (near the end of Ash Street). Some really friendly people gather there to play every Saturday morning. If you’re interested in knowing more about Petanque, or want to get your own set, check out

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Mark March 26 and 27 on your Calendar

Chimes and Bells Concert

Chimes and Bells Concert

Philippe Boets, freshly back from a wintery trip to France, had a couple of great surprises for us when he sent the email that his friend Arsene Dupin, master magician and expert pétanque player with some of his friends were detouring to Fernandina Beach to play a couple of games on the new courts at the Marina Parking Lot in downtown.

Arsene, who enjoys doing shows at Medieval Festivals in the early part of the year, was on his way back from Miami to Austin Texas, where he lives, to catch up with his wife on Tuesday the 26th, to celebrate their anniversary. In spite of that major deadline, Arsene and acrobat/comedian friends Flourish and Fool happily made the detour to Amelia Island to play some games and promptly fell in love with the island; so much actually that he wants to come back for the International Pétanque Tournament in November with lots of his magician-fire eater-acrobatics-juggling and comedian friends and organize a big Street Festival during the event.

Philippe also confirmed that the regional Pétanque Tournament is a definite go for Saturday, March 27, adding the wonderful surprise that the world famous Millenium Carillion has been confirmed to be in town on the evening before (Friday the 26th) for a beautiful concert in the Park.

Definitely a weekend to mark in your agendas. Fernandina Beach has not experienced anything like it. Details on both the Regional Tournament (which will carry a limited number of teams) and the Carillion will be on the Pétanque America website momentarily.

Watch the video that shows about a dozen local players who came out to “compete” with expert player Dupin and friends on a sunny but windy Monday afternoon in downtown Fernandina Beach.

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Regional Pétanque Tournament Planned for March 27

Champion Weibel (l) and his team mate Thibaud

Champion Weibel (l) and his team mate Thibaud

It is more than rumored that Pétanque America, after its hugely successful international tournament on the waterfront of Fernandina Beach in the middle of November, is putting the last preparations together for a regional tournament to be held by late March, also at the Fernandina Beach waterfront.

Since the November tournament, Pétanque has become somewhat of a household word in the area and legions of Florida players have expressed their plans to attend a tournament in early Spring to promote the game and build a local and regional legion of players that can compete with the big dogs.

Philippe Boets, owner of Petanque America, did an interview with World and European Champion Claudy Weibel from Belgium during the recent tournament, which was the first trip for Weibel to the USA. In the interview Weibel, who also made history on island during his evenings playing pool on local pool tables by beating anyone who wanted to match his skills with him, would love to come back and get the sport of Pétanque promoted here to levels seen in many Asian and European countries. He may get his wish considering the huge interest the game has received locally and regionally since November. In the interview he also thanked Amelia Island for the great welcome he received and he would definitely convince his top ranked competitors to come and register for the next International Tournament in November of 2010.

To get a Pétanque artist like Claudy Weibel to participate in your first Open International Tournament was quite an accomplishment and speaks for Philippe Boets reputation in the world of Pétanque, the French ball game. Boets has also other plans to bring unique events to the Amelia Island shores, one of them being a concert by an authentic Carillion.

The Mobile Carillion coming to Fernandina?

The Mobile Carillion coming to Fernandina

Born into a family that has operated a bell foundry ( in the Netherlands for centuries and built the Mobile Millenium Carillion, Philippe has been trying to get that marvelous piece of music perfection for a concert right here on Amelia Island. Details are still sketchy but it is rumored that Fernandina Beach is going to receive an Old World treat of a lifetime around March 20, if everything works out according to plan.

Check it out here:

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