30a.news

‘The Sweet Potato Queen’ Brings Southern Humor to South Walton

Some say you haven’t read real Southern humor unless you’ve read advice about love and life from ‘The Sweet Potato Queen’. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is launching one of its nationally acclaimed reading programs in Walton County and to celebrate they are bringing best-selling author Jill Conner Browne, the famed ‘Sweet Potato Queen’ to South Walton. Browne will host a lunchtime book-signing reception at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Grand Boulevard on August 5. The ‘Laughs for Literacy’ event is $40 per person and includes one complimentary book. Tickets are now available at J. McLaughlin in Grand Boulevard and Sundog Books in Seaside. Conner Browne, who lives in Mississippi, has written nine books, several of which have ranked #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List. She has created a global phenomenon — nearly 6,400 chapter groups in 37 countries. Browne made national news again in March when The Sweet Potato Queen’s Musical opened in Houston. “We are thrilled to bring awareness to families and parents to help their children stay focused on reading this summer by hosting this fun persona with a strong Southern sense of humor,” said Stacey Brady, a spokeswoman for Grand Boulevard. All proceeds from the event directly support the “reading rally” and book giveaway happening in September for all third-graders enrolled at the Walton County pilot site school. Check out this 30A Radio interview with Jill: More than 40 percent of all third-graders in the Walton County School District are six months or more behind in reading on grade level, though that is not uncommon across most Florida counties, said Kelly Layman, a Walton County resident who is chairing the event for the Barbara Bush Foundation. Former First Lady Barbara Bush founded the Foundation for Family Literacy in 1989. Bush is considered a pioneer for raising awareness about “family literacy” long before it blossomed into a national movement and consistent proven research related to early childhood learning had been regularly published. Today, “reading on grade level” is a major national issue for all schoolchildren. “Mrs. Bush always believed that a child’s first teacher is the parent, and the home is the first classroom — and that could not be truer today,” Layman said. “The St. Joe Community Foundation provided a grant to establish the program in Walton County while everyone supporting the August 5 event will raise the non-programmatic funds to cover the reading rally at the school and a book giveaway for third-graders.” Carlene Anderson, superintendent of Walton County schools, said the district is grateful to have this additional intensive support for struggling third-grade readers. “There are so many reasons a student has a reading and comprehension deficit, and it is absolutely critical we help them at this age, building up their vocabulary and language skills,” Anderson said. “Reading literally impacts every other subject for them in school.” Since launching in 2002, this particular Foundation program for struggling elementary student readers has served a total of more than 48,000 students nationwide. The Walton County launch will mark the 93rd program site amid 21 counties in Florida alone. All of the event’s proceeds will benefit local elementary students, thanks to support from Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Additional sponsors are The 30A Company, CHELCO, Merrill Lynch—Krueger, Fosdyck& Associates, J. McLaughlin and Sundog Books. Below are the event details: What: “Laughs for Literacy” book-signing reception with famed Southern humorist and best-selling author Jill Conner Browne, aka “THE Sweet Potato Queen.”  Benefits Walton County launch of new third-grade program. Presented By: Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Where: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 600 Grand Blvd., Sandestin When: August 5, Friday 11:30 a.m. – Reception, silent auction, wine spritzers, hors d’oeuvres & swag bag with 1 complimentary book Noon – Welcome & Author Remarks 12:15-1:30 p.m. – Book-signing & door prizes Tickets: Stop by J. McLaughlin in Grand Boulevard or Sundog Books in Seaside before July 29, with a $40 cash or check donation to “Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy” to receive a reserved ticket. At the August 5 event, each guest receives a swag bag of goodies and a complimentary book for Jill Conner Browne to sign. Additional books will be available for sale. For more info or to make a charitable tax-deductible donation to Walton County’s program, write to Kelly Layman.
Read More

30a.news

Waterspouts near 30A — Navarre

I had lunch in Fort Walton with a high school buddy today. We met there because he was staying in Navarre, and FWB was halfway between us. While we were eating on a porch overlooking the sound, I saw this, but it was 20 miles away. Still […]
Read More

30a.news

Pokémon Go on 30-A

By Caroline Giddis This time of year, visitors and locals alike gather together on 30-A to enjoy the sunshine, eat good food and … catch Pokémon? You may have noticed a sudden influx of people of all ages staring at their phones more than usual and screaming, “I got it!” to their friends. This is the life of someone who downloads the new Pokémon Go app. The highly-addictive game was just released last week and already has more downloads than other popular apps on the App Store after only a week. The good news is, 30-A is a Pokémon Go trainer’s paradise. You’ll see anything from a clan of Tentacools by the Gulf to Snorlax chilling at a beach bar.  We’ve got the ins and outs of the best places to find Pokéstops and challenge other trainers at Pokémon gyms. Whether you choose team Valor (red), Mystic (blue), or Instinct (yellow), there are so many opportunities to bump up your XP and become the very best Pokémon Go trainer on 30-A. Gulf Place is a great place to start because there are many different types of Pokémon to catch to help you level up. Magikarps, Staryus and Digletts are all over the beach, while Nidorans and Venonats dominate the Gulf Place shopping center. There’s a Pokéstop at the stage in Gulf Place and at The Chapel at Crosspoint nearby. There are 10 Pokéstops in Seaside, that’s right, TEN, and one gym located at a sculpture. Central Square Records has already embraced this prestigious honor by inviting people to stop by for some pokéballs and potions. Pidgeys are everywhere in Seaside, which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Watercolor has one Pokéstop, The Blue Giraffe, and two gyms, both of which are currently dominated by Team Valor. Don’t forget that catching more Pokémon and evolving them will give you a major XP boost. Grayton Beach has 12 Pokéstops and four gyms – wow! Stop by Monet Monet, Chiringo or The Red Bar for some revives, eggs and pokéballs. The Grayton Beach nature trail is a definite hotspot, and Western Lake is filled with water-type Pokémon, but keep your eyes out for Bulbasaurs too! Seagrove and WaterSound combined have five stops, one of which is The Hub, and one gym at Seagrove Baptist Church. These neighborhoods have a ton of grassy, wetland areas, so be on the watch for Exeggcutes and Bellsprouts. Alys Beach has eight Pokéstops, a gym at one of the large towers, and is filled with Oddishes, whereas Seacrest has two stops, one gym at the giant lifeguard chair, and is covered with Poliwags. Finally, Rosemary Beach has four Pokéstops and one highly-competitive gym located at the central fountain. Go a little further down 30-A and you’ll find a gym at Shades Bar & Grill and two Pokéstops in 30 Avenue. A few tips for the Pokémon Go trainers: • Stay in groups when hunting down Pokémon • Don’t Pokémon Go and drive • Don’t break the law just to catch that Sandshrew- I know it’s tempting • CATCH ‘EM ALL!
Read More


30a.news

Stand-Up Paddleboarding in South Walton

By Lindsey Rogers White sand and crystal-clear water aren’t all South Walton has to offer. In fact, all the other activities — fishing, horseback riding, hiking, bike riding — are what make this area so special and attractive to people of all kinds. One of the most popular activities among visitors and locals alike is stand-up paddle boarding, a relatively new activity involving what looks like an elongated surf board that users stand on and use a paddle to move across the water’s surface. Rent a board or book a paddle board tour! South Walton is an especially perfect place for the budding sport, which is something Jeff Archer stumbled on when he founded his company YOLO Board here in 2007. Archer said South Walton is one the best places to stand-up paddle because of the variety of beginner friendly water and the huge diversity of paddling experiences. With the Gulf of Mexico, the Choctawhatchee Bay, coastal dune lakes and rivers, you’ll never get bored of the scenery. Plus, South Walton’s climate allows for year-round paddling. “Stand up paddle boarding to Walton County is like snow skiing to Aspen or Breckenridge,” Archer said. Paddling in the gulf offers a paddler beauty in every direction and the opportunity to have a close-up encounter with species such as dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitat. Archer suggests you paddle the gulf in the morning when it is flat because as the south winds arise it is more difficult to paddle. If you’re new to paddle boarding, the coastal dune lakes are for you.These lakes are mostly protected from the winds, which results in flat, smooth waters perfect for those first timers. You get the best of both worlds paddling in a coastal dune lake because the outfall will take you directly to the gulf when you’re ready to hit the beach. The Choctawatchee Bay, fresh water rivers and natural springs are other flat venues for paddling. The bay is located just north of U.S. Highway 98 while the springs are a little further drive. Morrison Springs in Ponce De Leon is Archer’s favorite spring to paddle. Paddling affects both the physical and mental well-being of the paddler, Archer said. Physically, it improves core strength and balance.  It also leads to better overall cardiovascular health. Plus, being out on the water can act as a mental release, providing exhilaration and time to get in touch with nature. Although it can be nice to spend some time alone, paddling is also a great activity to enjoy with friends and family. Archer likes distance paddles with his dog, Flea, paddle adventures with his friends and surfing expeditions with his son and brother. “It has allowed me to mix work and play in a seamless way that fits my lifestyle,” he said. This is a 360º video! Use your mobile device to pan around and see all angles of Camp Creek Lake! You may have to open it on the YouTube app for the full 360º effect. Rent a board or book a paddle board tour at 30atours.com. Lindsey Rogers is a summer intern with The 30A Company. 
Read More


30a.news

Meet the Locals: Chris Cumby Shares His Secrets for Success

We have such a special community here, you often get the chance to meet someone on Scenic Highway 30-A who really makes you think. Cory Davis of 30A Radio had that opportunity recently when he got a chance a sit down with Chris Cumby, a Canadian-native-turned-30A-local and author of “The Success Playbook,” a book on discovering yourself and finding success, which is hitting shelves soon. Chris has a creative perspective on what you need to be successful in life, business and even here in South Walton. His knowledge ranges from the best food and beverage spots in South Walton to the benefits of finding a mentor (just wait until you hear who his is). This interview was prerecorded live at the 30A Radio Airstream at Gulf Place in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Special thanks to 30A Cottages & Concierge, Stinky’s Fish Camp and Coastal Insurance. Listen to the full interview here: For more information about Chris Cumby and his book, visit ChristopherCumby.com.
Read More


30a.news

THURSDAY: Meet the Creative Team Behind ‘Goodnight 30A’ + A Special Offer

(Meet the author and illustrator of this colorful kids book Thursday, July 14, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at The 30A Store in Gulf Place! If you can’t make it, tune into 30A’s Facebook page for a live broadcast, a chance to win prizes and an exclusive offer for 30A Fans.) Grace Skertich had just given birth to her first baby when she unexpectedly became a children’s book author. She had three months maternity leave from her law firm in Memphis and a baby who never cried — something most moms can only dream of — and she hungered for a new project. Why NOT write a children’s book? It’s not something she’d ever dreamed of doing — or even thought of doing. But it wasn’t long before she and her husband, Ryan, had put their heads together, found an illustrator and were soon hard at work creating Goodnight Memphis. Their first book was published in August 2014 and was very well-received. In fact, Grace said she had so much fun doing it, she started to think about the next one. “The only other place in America I know as well as Memphis is 30A,” said Grace. That’s when Grace reached out The 30A Company to see if she could incorporate the iconic 30A logo into some of their illustrations. It was an easy sell. “The illustrations in Goodnight Memphis were so colorful and vibrant, and the draft of their 30A story was obviously heartfelt,” said 30A’s Mike Ragsdale. “We knew we’d be proud to have the 30A brand associated with the project.” Goodnight 30A was born. David Lynch, the book’s illustrator, starts each page with a big, blank canvas — literally. His bright, original paintings are then scanned in and sized down to become the pages of the book. “It’s really colorful and whimsical,” said Grace. “It’s not digitally created, and I think that’s one of the things that has made the book so successful. It’s truly a work of art.” Goodnight 30A features many famous local places and activities, especially family-friendly ones like Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar, YOLO Boarding, The Red Bar, George’s at Alys Beach, Charlie’s Donut Truck, Frost Bites, Seaside, WaterColor, Rosemary Beach and Grayton Beach. Grace said she’s thrilled with how the book turned out and is excited for everyone to finally see it. “Never in a million years did I think I would be a children’s book author,” she said. “It was just sort of the perfect storm after practicing law for five years in a corporate setting, which can be kind of monotonous. I do love to write, but I’m typically writing legal briefs. This is much more fun.” Goodnight 30A is now available for purchase online. Also, check out these beautiful postcard packs made from the book’s artwork. CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:  
Read More