30A St. Patrick’s Festival and Parade at Gulf Place March 14

CLEGHORN will be one of the featured bands at the St. Patrick's Day fest.

CLEGHORN will be one of the featured bands at the St. Patrick’s Day fest.

Ottawa based Celtic Band SEARSON will be headlining the musical entertainment at this year’s 30A St. Patrick’s Day Festival March 14. SEARSON has been described as “Fiddles on steroids” The group has toured throughout Canada, the United States, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland and the Caribbean including playing with The Chieftains. The high energy won’t stop there as Texas based Celtic Rock Band CLEGHORN will also return. If you mixed ZZ Top with The Hobbit soundtrack, it might sound something like CLEGHORN. Their music mixes original folk/rock songwriting with high energy Celtic fiddle and bagpipe tunes.

The festivities start at 12 Noon at Gulf Place with the parade at 2 p.m.. The parade expects a record number of floats and parade entries, in all shapes and sizes. This year’s Grand Marshal is Catherine O’ Sullivan who hails from Cork Ireland. The Best in Parade perpetual trophy is up for grabs for the best decorated cars trucks or floats. Festival goers can purchase commemorative t-shirts, experience arts and crafts, including knitted jewelry and blacksmithing, wood carving, face painting, and of course a variety of food and drinks. A few sponsor spots, vendor table and tent spaces are still available, and businesses are encouraged to be a sponsor, details at www.30aparade.com.

The event will entertain the kids with the “wee folk” area containing costume prizes for fairy princesses and pirates, along with “Pot O’ Gold” treasure hunts, face painting and much more. The top notch Celtic entertainment will also be on hand all day starting with Dismal Creek who will pay tribute to bluegrass roots with Irish jigs, reels and brilliant banjo picking double base riffs. Proceeds support breast cancer 501c Fore Her golf tournament and Alaqua Animal Refuge.

Ticket prices begin at – $10 for adults, kids are $5 each and VIP Whiskey/Beer tasting tickets are $35 each, available now at www.30aparade.com.

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Enjoy breakfast with a ranger at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park March 14

rangerDate/time: Saturday March 14th, 9 -10 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you and your family to Breakfast with a Ranger. Join the Rangers of Topsail Hill to learn about the park, its history and to ask them all the questions you can think of about the park its wildlife and anything in between. This program is ideal for the whole family to enjoy. To cover the cost of food, please bring $5.00, which goes to Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to enhance the park or bring your own breakfast. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330. ::MAP::

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Caverns to Coast Bike Tour March 21 – 27

cavernstocoastCustom design your own bike tour from Florida Caverns State Park to Port St. Joe

Location: Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL
The Caverns to Coast Tour, Bike Florida’s 2015 spring ride, is headed to the Northwest Florida Panhandle for a taste of its rural routes and salt air. Reserve March 21-27, 2015 for some early season riding. With 1, 2, 5 and 7-day ride options this tour is designed to fit just about any travel schedule. Only three “move days” allow you to take a day off the bike to explore our host community.

The tours are designed for active recreational riders. Ride at your own speed, stop to explore or push hard till the days end. You get to choose how many miles and what speed to ride.

Tour cost include: rest stops (about every 15 miles), SAG (support and gear), indoor and outdoor camping, marked routs, maps, cue sheets, entertainment, first class showers, a beach party, end of ride party and quality vendors to take care of your bicycle, camping services or meal needs. This a great tour for the hard core cyclists looking to lay down some early season miles, or the first time tour rider inspired to take a new challenge.
Indoor and outdoor camping are the most popular accommodation options, although hotels are available. Indoor campers enjoy a local gymnasium while the outdoor campers enjoy the pleasures of being outside. The Dixie Grill will cater this year’s meal plan; breakfast and or dinner options are available. They have served thousands of cyclists over the years. Lunch is on your own; available at the numerous towns we ride to and through. No Sweat Shower Service will join us again. If you rode the 2012 tour you will recognize their high quality shower truck. Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers is available if you prefer a tent service. They set up your tent, deliver your luggage and provide a place to sit and visit with friends. Or try Captain Quarter’s Sherpa Service. They carry your gear but leave the set up process to you. Captain Quarter’s also provide a place to sit with friends. Fair Shot Coffee will be there with premium fair trade organic coffee. Smoothies and limited breakfast options as part of their service.

Looping out of Blountstown to Marianna then down to Port St. Joe before heading back to Blountstown offers riders the chance to experience some wonderful farmland before heading to the coast. Blountstown sits on the banks of the Apalachicola River; Marianna is home to Florida’s only public cave system. Port St. Joe offers welcome views of the bay and rides to the beach. Once discovered, you will come want to back to these communities time and again.
Join the fun on the 21st annual spring ride, the Caverns to Coast Tour. For complete details visit http://bikeflorida.org/2015-spring-tour/ or contact Ken@bikeflorida.org 352-224-8602.

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American roots music concert at Camp Helen State Park lodge Mar 7


The Friends of Camp Helen State Park are hosting a Saturday concert series. The concerts will be held in the lodge from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

On Sat., Mar. 7, Camp Helen Americana concerts features Scott and Michelle Dalziel, who are originally from Iowa and now call Florida home.  A singer/songwriting duo, they deliver “solid melodies, meaningful lyrics, heartfelt and amusing stories, tight harmonies and a solid instrumental foundation,” having performed at more than 200 acoustic venues nationwide.  They offer “an approachable performance of touching hearts and lifting moods.” Learn more at reverbnation.com/scottandmichelledalziel

Come join in for a unique series of concerts featuring the best American Roots musicians touring the country today. This impressive series of indoor concerts at Camp Helen’s historic log cabin style lodge is sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park. The series is hosted by Lucky Mud.

Free admission into the park, with donation requested. Donations will go directly to the Friends of Camp Helen State Park to be used to benefit the park’s resource management projects and interpretive programs. Refreshments available. Call 850-233-5059 for more information.

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Public workshop on artificial reef management plan March 3

Photo courtesy Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association.

Photo courtesy Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association.

The South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) is hosting a public workshop regarding their artificial reef management plan. The workshop will be held at the South Walton Courthouse Annex, 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard, Suite 500. Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.

The workshop will be held on March 3 from 3 – 5 p.m. Topics discussed will be:

1) Artificial Reef Management Plan (10 year)
a.  Draft document link:

a.  Definition of LAARS:  Large Area Artificial Reef Site
b.  Permitting process
c.  Purpose
d.  Site location
e.  Size
f.  Guidelines for public deployments

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Haz-mat collection day in north and south Walton Mar. 7

walton-county-logoHaz-mat collection day in both north and south Walton on Saturday, Mar. 7, from 8 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Pesticides – Used Oil – Stale Gasoline – Solvents – Fertilizers – Paint – Paint Thinners – Paint  Strippers – Batteries – Furniture Polish – Brake Fluid – Engine Degreasers – Anti-Freeze – Pool Chemicals – Insecticides – Spot Removers

Waste tire amnesty will also be held on the same date, during the same hours and locations.  Walton county residents may bring up to 12 tires per residence.

Walton County Fairgrounds, Highway 83 North (9th Avenue), Defuniak Springs,
South Walton Mosquito Control Office, County Road 393, Santa Rosa Beach

No gas cylinders or explosives, please. Due to hazardous nature of certain components in home computers, we will be accepting old computer hardware including processors, monitors, keyboards, printers, scanners, etc. Conditionally exempt small quantity generators (small businesses, schools, growers, etc.) will be accepted at a reduced rate.

For more information or to schedule a drop off time, contact the Landfill Department at 850-892-8180.

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Take a guided hike to Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park March 7

campbelllakesmDate/time: Saturday March 7, 12:30 -2:00 p.m.

Coastal dune lakes are extremely unique and rare worldwide. Come join the folks at Topsail and hike through some of Topsail’s best ecosystems culminating with a stop at Campbell Lake. This is an approximately 3 mile round trip hike on a paved surface. There are restrooms and water at the halfway point. Enter the park through the main gate and the staff will direct you to tram stop 1, entry fee is $6.00.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330. ::MAP::

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Getting to Know the Natives – Garden and Trail Tour offered by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance

 Dates offered: March 3, March 18, April 8, April 22, May 5, May 20

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), in partnership with Northwest Florida State College, announces the spring season of its popular eco-tourism initiative, Eco Adventures of Walton County. Get acquainted with the local flora and fauna as you enjoy a guided tour of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Trail at Northwest Florida State College (South Walton Center). Plants featured in the Garden, Trail and Wildflower Meadow are critical to habitat preservation, providing food and shelter for hundreds of species of pollinators, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals.  The area is mostly handicap accessible. It is established as a teaching/demonstration/leisure site for students and the general public.  Session will include an overview/introduction followed by a two-hour docent led walk, approximately 1 mile. Appropriate for all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Time: 3 – 5 p.m. Space is limited to 16 participants. Minimum of 4 required.

Location: South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College, 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. Fee: $15

Discover Roads Less Traveled offers visitors and local residents extraordinary opportunities to explore, discover, and learn about the pristine natural resources that make Walton County unique. Descriptions of the tours being offered are available online at www.basinalliance.org by clicking the Eco Tours information box. Registration is available by phone at 850-200-4160.

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Black Bear Affair at E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center March 7

blackbearsmYou’re invited to a Black Bear Affair! Learn all about Florida Black Bears at the E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center. The Bear Management team from FWCC leads an interactive Mystery Bear Box program for kids in the theater at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Join in on the fun educational activities and arts and crafts going on ALL throughout the day including: “Be a Bear” interactive stations, cast your own bear track, bear masks, black bear moon-pies, and guided hikes. Also meet and greet the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition Team as they travel through Walton County.

General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children. 2 and under FREE Please visit eowilsoncenter.org to learn more about this non-profit educational center or call (850) 835-1824.
E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center, 4956 State Hwy 20 East, Freeport, Florida 32439​

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School bell on display at Freeport City Hall has long history

School bell displayed in front of Freeport City Hall has long history. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

School bell displayed in front of Freeport City Hall has long history. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

By Freeport historian Beckie Buxton

Have you ever noticed the old school bell displayed in front of Freeport’s City Hall? If you are new to the Freeport area, perhaps you have wondered whey it is so prominently displayed.

Those who attended the old Freeport School, circa 1908-1942 will recognize it as the bell that was once mounted in front of the old two-story wooden school building. The school hosed grades one through ten and stood where the Freeport Middle School now stands.

After the school burned down, many former students lost track of the symbol of their youth. Fortunately, Manuel Dickey, father of Freeport school students salvaged the bell as the rubble was cleared from the area. He realized that he had a symbol of Freeport that should be kept and cared for.

Following Dickey’s death, his son and daughter-in-law, Ralph and Joyce Dickey assumed care for the bell.

When the new city hall was built, the city began displaying historical items rom the city’s past. Ralph met with Mayor Marse and asked if he and the City Council would be interested in assuming care for the bell and display it as a part of Freeport’s heritage. The answer was a resounding “yes!”

Learn more about Freeport’s history at the Heritage Center located on SR20.

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