Walton County Fair coming to DeFuniak Springs Oct. 6-11

Six days of family fun in store at the fairgrounds

The Walton County Fair, a tradition since 1924, kicks off six days of family fun on Monday, Oct. 6, 2013.

Sticking to its roots as an agricultural fair, there will be livestock competitions every day including rabbit, poultry, hog, horse, lamb, goat and cattle shows.

The Fair also provides an opportunity for youth and adults to showcase their artwork, handicrafts, growing crops. Other activities will include a dog show, hot dog and pie eating contests, baked goods for sale and live music. Food vendors along the midway with rides will provide hours of entertainment for the entire family.

Cost: Adults $3, children (6-12) $2, 5 and under free.

Visit waltoncountyfair.com to view full schedule and ride armband prices for the week.

The fair is located at the Walton County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 83 one mile north of Hwy. 90 (790 North 9th Street) in DeFuniak Springs. ::MAP::

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day by helping clean the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Sept. 27

trashTime: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to come help beautify the park. The summer crowds are gone but their trash is not, come out to National Public Lands Day and help clean up the beach. We will meet in the day use parking area at 9 am to catch the tram to the beach, from there we will disperse down the beach. Trash bags and gloves will be provided, please bring water and sunscreen.

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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The Rise and Decline of the “Redneck Riviera” author featured at South Walton Community Council public forum Sept. 25

riseanddeclineThe South Walton Community Council (SWCC) is pleased to host author Hardy Jackson and Sundog Books at its next public forum. Join us as Hardy traces the development of the Florida-Alabama coast, or the “Redneck Riviera” as a tourist destination from the late 1920s when 30A was sparsely populated with small villages through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. Jackson will discuss his book, The Rise and Fall of the Redneck Riviera, and focus on the history of C. R. 30A in his Sept. 25 presentation at the Coastal Branch Library at 437 Greenway Trail. The program begins at 7 p.m. Sundog Books will be there with copies of the book for signing.

Jackson’s book is a culmination of sixteen years of research drawn from local newspapers, interviews, documentaries, community histories, and scholarly studies. From his 1950s-built Seagrove Beach cottage and on frequent trips to the Alabama coast, Jackson witnessed the changes that have come to the area and has recorded them in a personal, in-depth look at the history and culture of the coast. He writes about the gulf coast with an insight and love that makes you want to travel back in time and stick your toes in the sands of its history.

Jackson has taught at colleges and universities in Florida and Georgia and is the author, co-author or co-editor of eleven books on various aspects of Southern History. Reared in Clarke County, Alabama, chasing “submarines and alligators” along the Alabama River and whiling summers away on the Florida Panhandle, Jackson is as far away from a tweedy academic as you can get. He glories in offshore fishing and makes you want to splash in the water and sway in a hammock. Hardy lives in Seagrove Beach, Florida and Jacksonville, Alabama with his wife, Suzanne, their son Will and daughters Anna and Kelly.

The SWCC is an organization of residents, business owners and property owners whose mission is to advocate for the preservation, protection and enhancement of the quality of life and natural environment of south Walton County. To contact the SWCC call (850) 314-3749 or visit its website at www.southwaltoncc.org.

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Take a guided canoe tour of Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Sept. 26

rangersmTime: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Join Topsail for a unique opportunity to paddle Campbell Lake. Located within the heart of Topsail Hill, Campbell Lake is the largest of the parks two coastal dune lakes. You will join the ranger as he leads you to various points around the lake and discusses what makes this lake as well as the others in the area so unique.. No outside canoes or kayaks are allowed on the lake so space is limited to 10 people for each trip. A sign up sheet will be available in the ranger station through 26th and will be on a first come first serve basis. Meet at tram stop 1 by 9:30 am on September 26th to catch the tram to the lake.

A $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park. 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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Northwest Florida springs receive much needed boost

The Devil’s Hole Spring Restoration project along Econfina Creek will stabilize, restore, and protect streambanks. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The Devil’s Hole Spring Restoration project along Econfina Creek will stabilize, restore, and protect streambanks. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Holmes Creek, Econfina Creek, Wakulla Springs, and Jackson Blue spring to receive restoration funding

On Sept. 10 2014, the Florida Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed $69 million in springs projects leveraged by the $30 million Governor Scott secured in the “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.” This approval brings the total investment in springs projects to more than $100 million in the last two years.

The project plan is a collaborative effort with the department, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. The contributions and cooperation of these agencies and individuals have been crucial throughout the development process. Combining efforts and resources from various agencies across Florida allows for more efficient and comprehensive water restoration.

The Holmes Creek Springs Complex Restoration project will stabilize the streambank and provide stormwater treatment and appropriate riparian access at Cotton Landing.  Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The Holmes Creek Springs Complex Restoration project will stabilize the streambank and provide stormwater treatment and appropriate riparian access at Cotton Landing. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The objective of the project plan is to effectively address water quality and water quantity by supporting both urban and agricultural projects across geographic regions of the state where springs occur in the natural landscape. The projects were selected based on pollutant reduction, water quantity conservation, cost effectiveness and available matching grant funding.

A total of 27 projects will benefit springs and spring systems. The Northwest Florida Water Management District will receive $15,917,210 to implement eight projects designed to improve conditions in Wakulla Springs and Jackson Blue Spring, as well as springs associated with the Holmes Creek and Econfina Creek systems.

The details of the Northwest Florida projects are as follows:

Holmes Creek:
The Holmes Creek Springs Complex Restoration project will stabilize the streambank and provide stormwater treatment and appropriate riparian access at Cotton Landing, a recreation site along Holmes Creek.  The project will prevent erosion and sediment runoff into the creek and help protect this unique karst system.

Econfina Creek:
Devil’s Hole Spring is a second magnitude spring, located on Econfina Creek, with a discharge of approximately 21 million gallons per day. This spring is a popular public recreation area that is experiencing significant erosion and de-stabilization. The Devil’s Hole Spring Restoration project will stabilize, restore, and protect streambanks at the spring, which will improve water quality, restore historical shoreline impacted by erosion, and prevent destruction of habitat resulting from erosion and recreational use on Econfina Creek.  In addition to the shoreline restoration, boardwalks and access points will be installed to prevent future water quality and habitat impacts.

Wakulla Springs:
DEP and the District will invest more than $5.5 million to implement four wastewater improvement projects that will significantly improve the quality of water entering Wakulla Springs by reducing nutrients. The District will partner with Leon County for two of the projects (Lake Munson Target Area and Lake Bradford Mobile Home Park wastewater improvement projects) to connect a combined 160 single family septic units to the City of Tallahassee’s sewer system, providing a 95 percent reduction in nitrogen loading.  The County will provide 50 percent matching funding on both projects—leveraging an additional $1 million in springs protection.

The District will also partner with Wakulla County to implement two projects (Wakulla Gardens and Magnolia Gardens Wastewater Improvement projects), which together will connect 270 single family septic units to the County’s sewer system and provide a 93 percent reduction in nitrogen loading. The County will provide 63 percent matching funding on both projects, for a total of approximately $7.7 million.

Jackson Blue Spring
The proposed plan includes nearly $1 million to implement two projects to improve water quality and increase the water quantity available to Jackson Blue Spring. More than $487,000 will be used to build upon the success of the District’s Jackson Blue Spring Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) grant program. This grant program will provide cost-share funding to agricultural producers for irrigation system improvements and equipment and tools to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use and improve water use efficiency—protecting both water supply and quality. Agricultural partners provide 25 percent in matching funding for this program.

The District will also initiate a project to investigate the Claiborne Aquifer as an alternative water source to the Floridan Aquifer for crop irrigation to offset water use demands, which would make additional water available to the springs.

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Walton county fishing report for Sept. 11

redfishFishing has never been better!

Choctawhatchee Bay area: Redfish bite is through the roof. All sizes, all baits, shrimp, Berkley Gulp, Johnson spoons.

River: bass and hybrids at the mouths of the river and creeks. Get out there!

Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439
(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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Enjoy a guided tour and paddle of Morrison Springs Sept. 25

morrison1Time: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Hosted by Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some very special places in Walton county.

Learn about Florida’s crystal clear springs as we paddle Morrison Springs in Northeast Walton County. We will paddle and explore around the spring and then out towards the Choctawhatchee River and back.

Learn about our precious local water resources, how many millions of gallons of water Morrison Springs emits every day, and where the water comes from. We will also discuss the flora and fauna that inhabits the wetland area.

Bring water, a snorkel, waterproof camera, sunscreen, towel, and your swimsuit. Pack a lunch if you wish, as there is a pavilion and restroom facility available at the park. The event and swimming is dependent on river conditions.

Moderate exertion level. Basic kayak/canoe knowledge required. The paddle is approximately 2 hours. Travel time approximately 45 minutes each way.

Space is limited to 7 participants. Minimum of 4 required.

Location: meet at the Northwest Florida State College South College, 109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. A van will be used to transport individuals.

Fee: $35 for the tour – Pay at the time of registration

Plus canoe/kayak rental fee of $35 – Pay directly to the outfitter the day of the tour; Cash or check. Specify kayak or canoe preference at the time of registration.

Click here to learn more, then call to reserve your space at 850-200-4160.

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International Coastal Cleanup Day Saturday, September 20

trashTime: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) is hosting the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the following beach accesses: Van Ness Butler Jr., Dune Allen, Ed Walline, Blue Mountain, Inlet Beach, and Gulf View Heights. It is easy to get involved, there is no age limit or special skills required— supplies and water to be provided to all volunteers.

For more information on how you can support beach cleanup contact Stacey Infinger at (850) 267-4578 or stacey@visitsouthwalton.com

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Choctawhatchee WATERSHED Music Festival in Destin Sept. 20

watershedOn September 20, 2014 Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House of the Destin Harbor will host the inaugural Choctawhatchee WATERSHED Music Festival; a benefit concert to promote the health and sustainability of local waterways via the mission and objectives of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College.  The 8 hour festival will consist of non-stop music from 5 different artists, all for the wristband price of $20. There will also be a silent auction to raise additional funding for CBA programs, consisting of a BOTE paddle board, an electric guitar signed by the performing artists and more. All proceeds from the sale of wristbands and silent auction items will go to support the goals and mission of CBA.

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is a watershed organization that focuses its efforts on educating the community about local waterways for the optimum utilization of these natural resources.

Choctawhatchee WATERSHED Music Festival line-up features artists such as Flow Tribe, Los Locos, Stokeswood, Dismal Creek, and Von Brain. There will be two stages that will alternate the performing artists, all which are visible from the outdoor decks, tiki-bar, sand beach and docks of Boshamps. Better yet is the backdrop of the venue, provided by one of the most notorious local waterways hot-spots, the Destin Harbor. Parking for the festival will be designated by signs at various locations surrounding the venue.

For more information about the Choctawhatchee WATERSHED Music Festival and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, please visit www.basinalliance.org. To schedule an interview, please contact Sarah Davis at (850) 585-7926 or daviss26@nwfscc.edu.

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Alaqua Animal Refuge hosting Puppypalooza at Aaron Bessant Park Sept. 20

puppyloozaThe inaugural Puppypalooza to benefit the Unconditional Love Program of Alaqua Animal Refuge will be held at Aaron Bessant Park in Panama City Beach on September 20, 2014 from 1 – 9 p.m.

Puppypalooza will feature a DJ, inflatable bounce houses, retail, beer, wine, and food booths, a huge raffle, a jail, a dunking booth, dog agility shows, Unconditional Love Program dog performances, face painting, and tons of games for children. Beginning at 6 p.m. Cadillac Willy will rock the park. Bring your blanket or chairs and relax in the park.

Puppypalooza Sponsors are the Panama City Beach Police Department, The City of Panama City Beach, Ink Trax, Ron John Surf Shop, WorkSource, The Geo Group, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pineapple Willy’s and Chaste.

Food vendors include Shore Dogs, Smokin’ Butts, Dovalina’s Wood-fired Pizza, Sweet Henrietta’s, Fishale Taphouse and Grill, and Captain’s Lady Café and Sno Balls. Retail vendors include Pink Narcissus (Lily Pulitzer), The 30A Gear Truck, Cedar and Cypress Woodworks, Peaches to Beaches, Jam Berry Nails, Thirty-One, Scentsy, 30a Beach Girl, Ron John Surf Shop, Glas Designs, For Tails Only, Tastefully Simple, What’s Up Dog?, Shabby Wraps, Magnabilities, Beach Zinnia, Pure Romance, and more. Alcohol vendors include Pabst Blue Ribbon and CHASTE No. 850.

Since 2011, the Unconditional Love Program has provided inmates in local jails and prisons the skills needed to train and provide care to Alaqua’s canines. Two of our three prisons are located in Bay County, and the majority of the dogs from the program are pulled from Bay County Animal Control. Alaqua chooses dogs that may otherwise have a hard time getting adopted.

This program adds value to the inmates’ institutional lives and provides job skills as they prepare for re-entry into their communities. The inmates learn empathy, patience and respect while teaching the dogs basic skills and potty train them. After graduating, canines are either adopted as family pets or continue on into a second phase and become therapy dogs that we give away free of change to individuals or families who could benefit from one.

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal refuge located in Northwest Florida. The refuge has placed over 10,000 animals of all kinds since it’s inception in 2007, and has grown to become a recognized leader in animal welfare and animal cruelty prevention. The refuge is located about 20 minutes north of the Emerald Coast’s sugary white beaches, which each year draw millions of visitors from around Florida and surrounding states.

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