The Forgotten Coast of Florida lies along the Panhandle. It is bounded on the West by Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach and Port St. Joe. Going East you come to Simmons Bayou, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, and The City of Apalachicola on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Continuing east you come to Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Lanark Village, St. James Island, St. Teresa Island, and Alligator Point in Franklin County, FL. As you cross the Ochlockonee River on Highway 98 you enter Wakulla County, FL and Ochlockonee Bay, Mashes Sands, Panacea, Live Oak Island, Shell Point and St. Marks. The St. Marks Lighthouse and nature preserve is the easternmost place on the Forgotten Coast. Each area is different, and all are uncrowded Natural Wonders.



MARCH 2015 

Plenty of Fun Events in March

By Chuck Spicer

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Sure, we’ll get another cold snap or two but we’ll just ignore them. Because Spring is now officially arriving on Florida’s Forgotten Coast. How do we know? Because the 33rd St. George Island Charity Chili Cookoff & Auction will take place on March 7 and folks from throughout the southeastern United States will converge on the Franklin County barrier isle and act a whole lot like the climate calendar has already slipped right past Spring and into Summer. The beach will do that to you! Especially if it is the third highest rated beach in the nation.

The cookoff, the largest International Chili Society (ICS) sanctioned regional event in the nation, is but one of several festivals and special events on our March calendar. These activities range from a rib cookoff to benefit the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department to an absolutely enchanting “Dam to Bay” week-long paddling trip. From a wide range of cultural presentations brought to you by the Dixie Theatre and Ilse Newell Concert Series to an Art & Wine Fest.

And, by the way, did we mention that during much of March and part of April a whole lot of Spring Breakers will converge on the Forgotten Coast. No, thankfully, we don’t get many of the Panama City “burn your hair and jump off a balcony” types. In general most come here because they have an appreciation for our all-natural attributes and our family atmosphere remains intact.

Scheduled activities get underway on March 5 with a St. George Island Sunset/full moon climb to the top of the Cape St. George Light to watch the sunset and the rise of the full moon. The Sunset/Full Moon Climb includes light hors d'oeuvres and a sparkling cider toast to the full moon.  Cost is $15.00 for the general public and $10.00 for members of the St. George Lighthouse Association. After sunset, people are invited to climb to the top of the lighthouse for a breathtaking view of the full moon.

On Friday March 6 the Chili Cookoff auction preview and wine sampling will take place at the Jay Abbott firehouse. How many firehouses do you know that honor LIVING legends. You get to place a bid on some of the classier auction items and then wait and see if those bids hold up during the actual auction that starts at 11 am the following day.

Early Saturday the more energetic participate in Chili Cookoff road race and by about 10 am all of the some four dozen competing chefs will have their booths created. Most with a humorous theme. All of the monies generated by these participants go to the cause – the SGI Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders. Not only do they compete for Top Chef Honors and a trip to nirvana but also compete to see who can raise the most money.

Mr. Chili Pepper and Miss Hot Sauce will be crowned and amateurs will compete in a “crockpot” division. There will be additional foods for those with reflux and, most importantly, there will be beverages. The entrance fee is $5. There is music in the afternoon and a whole lot of folks rent a room or house and make a weekend out of it. Contact: (850) 927-2753.


                                   South Will Rise Again

Spoiler Alert! Let’s just get this over with – the South wins!

The annual reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge (March 7-8) in Woodville will include a Saturday skirmish and Sunday’s full reenactment, which will be conducted on part of the original battlefield acquired. Other activities during the weekend will include living history demonstrations interpreting civilian and military life during the 1860s and historic presentations by volunteers from the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture and the Ladies Soldiers Friends Sewing Society.

On Sunday, the Anna Jackson Chapter 224 United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) will celebrate their annual pilgrimage to the site with a brief ceremony and the laying of a wreath honoring the original participants of the battle. During the ceremony they will be welcoming the return of the eagle to the top of the Confederate Memorial. The eagle will be a recreation of the original placed there during the early 1920s. As part of the sesquicentennial commemoration, they are recreating the historic march of Union troops from their naval landing at the St. Marks Lighthouse overland to the Natural Bridge.

Approximately 20 to 30 reenactors in Civil War period Federal uniforms with authentic muskets, bayonets and full accoutrements will meet at the lighthouse starting about 1:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, March 6..  Members of their 2nd USCT reenacting unit are expected to participate in the march. On Saturday and Sunday, authentic period camps will be open for public visitation starting at 9:00 a.m. Period merchants will be on site selling articles and souvenirs of the period. Food vending will be provided by the Tallahassee Elks Lodge. The Natural Bridge Historical Society, Inc. (NBHS), the Citizen Support Organization (CSO) for the park, will also be on hand to distribute historic literature about the battle and answer questions about the events which took place during this pivotal period of American history.



The SaltAir Farmers Market at  City Commons Park in  Port St. Joe will be open twice during March (7&21). Take a morning stroll Downtown Port St. Joe the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month and you’ll be treated with fresh seasonal produce from local farmers, regional vegetables, fruit, Gulf seafood, meat, cheeses and breads that are all ready for your table at the SaltAir Farmers’ Market! Handmade arts, crafts, jewelry, pottery and gifts highlight the market’s offerings with live music and fresh air

Also on March 7 you can “ Hike with a Park Ranger” at St. George Island State Park starting at 9 a.m. Join other energetics for a one mile hike from the campground to East Slough and back.  Along the way you will explore a few hidden treasures on the trail.  Meet at the campground playground. Participants should bring drinking water. Program is free with paid park entry.

Rio Carrabelle in the Pearl of the Panhandle will hold an event on March 7. Three Florida writers will read from their current work and there will be a special Musical Guest -- $10 cover. Pizza appetizers from Mama Joe's. BYOB. Address: 102 St James Avenue, Carrabelle, FL. Phone Number 615-337-1290 Website www.riocarrabelle.com Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



On the following Sunday  the Florida Guitar Quartet will perform as part of the Ilse Newell Concert Series. Featuring artists Matt Gillen, Steven Lerman, Morgan Stuart & Christopher Adkins. Classical works by Takemitsu, and Albeniz and Bach. The site is Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola starting at 4 pm and you can meet the artists following the presentation. A $5 donation is appreciated.


 See it, Say it, Paint it with Katie Dobson Cundif March 9-12, 9-4pm at the School of Art in Apalachicola.. Learn to paint faster, looser, and more confidently in this four day workshop while learning to accurately see larger abstract shapes, values, and color. Daily Demos-Discussions-Individual Painting Time-One on One Critiques. Address: 86 Water Street, Apalachicola. Phone Number: 1-855-272-5224. Website: apalachicolaschoolofart.com/

                                       AUTHORS IN APALACH


The Apalachicola Municipal Library will host its 2015 Authors in Apalach event March 13-14 at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art. This year’s event theme is “Contemporary Women Writers of the South” and will feature celebrated authors Janis Owens, author of the “Cracker Kitchen” and River Jordan, author of “The Gin Girl.”

Also featured will be Joyce LaFray, cookbook and food author, Susan Cerulean, environmental writer from Tallahassee; Faith Eidse, Tallahassee teacher, author of “Voices of the Apalachicola”, Mary Jane Ryals, Poet Laureate of the Big Bend (2009-2012); Memoirist; Kimberly Cross Teter, first time author of “Isabella's Libretto” and Adrian Fogelin, Tallahassee author of "Crossing Jordan."

The event kicks off with a reception Friday, March 13. On Saturday, March 14, the event will be from 10 am to 5pm, with authors signing and selling books. Phone Number: 850-653-8436. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




At this point we should note that there has been a significant date change for one of our major events.  The 19th annual Camp Gordon Johnston Reunion days, created to celebrate the historic wartime Carrabelle museum together with the service of veterans from WWII and beyond, has announced a major schedule change for 2015.  Unlike past years when the event was held in March, Veterans and their families are invited to Carrabelle from Friday, May 8, through Saturday, May 9. See May schedule for details.

March 14 is the date of the Lions Club St. Patrick’s Day Celebration (10 am-3 pm). The Lion Club's annual founder's day celebration is a mix of live folk music, Irish food and beverage offerings -- and a sea of green and gold arts and crafts merchandise. This St. Patrick's Day Celebration is preceded by an eclectic parade that streams through downtown Crawfordville in Wakulla County.

 Sligo Line ~ Irish will be presented at the Dixie Theatre, 21 Avenue E, Apalachicola, Phone: 850-653-3200 on March 14. For details go to their Website: www.dixietheatre.com

Are you a paddler? Are you adventurous? Read all about the exciting March 14-20 - Dam to the Bay Trip on the Ochlockonee River in our “B” section. The event starts at Ed & Bernice’s Fish Camp just south of the Lake Talquin Dam, east of Hosford and ends at Bald Point State Park on the Gulf of Mexico (Alligator Point). Total Distance:76 miles Phone Number:(850) 681-5963.Website: www.Floridaforestservice.com. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



On March 14 “Panhandle Seashells” will be presented at St. George Island State Park at 9:00 a.m. Join other seashell hunting buffs  for a hands-on ranger led shell identification program in the interpretive center.  Get up close and personal with some of the area’s amazing local seashells. You will discover the beauty of the Gulf Coast’s natural resources.  Participants can bring a breakfast item to share if they would like. Coffee is provided by the Friends of Franklin County State Parks.  Program is free with paid park entry.

The Apalachicola School of Art presents Painting the Head in Oil with Dawn Whitelaw March 15-18, 9-4pm. In this 4 day workshop, Dawn will be teaching basic principles of portraiture. This class will include lecture, power point presentations, demonstration, and critiques. There will be lots of individual help at easels as the student starts three portrait studies. Address: 86 Water Street, Apalachicola. Phone Number: 1-855-272-5224. Website


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