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DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORS 12/17/2013

The end of 2013 is rapidly approaching and every moment is packed with activities – it’s enough to take your breath away.  During this busy time when friends and family pour in to visit, please remember to patronize local merchants and restaurants as much as possible – we are so fortunate to have innovative and exciting places to shop , eat and be entertained with live music, dance and theatre.

I didn’t get to go but by all accounts the Sugar Cane Harvest at KYV Farms was great fun and most productive to boot.  The cane boil is a tradition as friends and families assemble to harvest sugar cane and make syrup.  Last year, the St Augustine Distillery partnered with KYV Farms to grow six heritage varieties of cane and together the Distillery and KYV made quite the harvesting and boil event this past weekend.  The preservation of heritage crops is essential and the St Augustine Distillery firmly believes that this heritage cane will greatly enhance the spirits which we will soon see for ourselves as the doors open sometime in January 2014 and the distilling processes begin in earnest.  Participants got to enjoy locally farmed food and some toe-tapping music provided by Tommy Bledsoe, Bob Parsons and others.   Stay tuned for more on the opening and commencement of tours.

In conjunction with the opening of the Distillery to tours at 112 Riberia Street, the Ice Plant will start serving lunch on their side of the building at 110 Riberia Street.  If you haven’t been you need to make time to go.  Besides the handcrafted drinks and dynamic menu, the building and everything in it is well worth a long admiring look.  Get transported back in time while you dine.

Downtown resident and artist Rosamond Parrish asked that everyone check out the Corner Market at 97 Martin Luther King Avenue.  George and Ollie Smith from South Street used to have a market there in years past and now their daughter Nichole is running the food market.  Rosamond sampled several tasty items and discovered all kinds of staples, fresh produce, chocolate and almond covered tortillas and more.  Grandson Kris operates a clothing boutique with original art as well.  He and the store were recently featured on a segment of Ancient City Stories.   While you’re there you can stop in at the barbershop where the Smiths’ son is cutting hair.  Rosamond, thanks for letting us know about this great place.

If you’ve been missing Anchor Boutique, formerly located at 210 St George Street, you’ll be pleased to discover that Laurel Baker has moved to a new location at 77 San Marco Avenue next to Declaration Boutique and Goldfinch boutique.  Anchor is now a coop of two artists, Laurel who is a jewelry designer and Jenna Alexander, illustrator and photographer.  Both offer custom designs in jewelry, photography and illustration.  With a beautiful retail setting, the shop also offers home goods and gifts so there is something for everyone.

Amiro Art & Found gallery co-owner and downtowner Ginny Bullard invites all of us to check out the portfolio of Alexander Wilds during the January First Friday Art Walk on January 3.  Wilds was born in New Orleans, studied art at Rhodes College, San Francisco Art Institute, Tulane University and University of Minnesota where he earned his PhD.  For 22 years he worked as a sculptor and architectural designer in Japan before returning to the States where he is now an Associate Professor of Fine Art at Benedict College in Columbia SC.  Wilds sculptures, paintings and drawings will be on display through the month of January at 9C Aviles Street.

Even though it makes Lonesome Bert a little crazy, I remain a sucker for the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  If you’re like me, you’ll be delighted to know that you can enjoy the movie and dinner on December 21 at the St Augustine Amphitheatre.  Sponsored by Community First Credit Union and hosted by the Friends of the St Augustine Amphitheatre the event is free.  Call 471-1965 or go to staugamphitheatre.com for more info.

For aficionados of Tchaikovksy’s famous Nutcracker Suite, this Saturday and Sunday is your chance to see professional dancers join the Saint Augustine Ballet corps in four performances of this holiday tradition.  Held at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler, you can call 824-1746 or visit saintaugustineballet.com.

A Celtic Christmas Sing-Along is being held at the St Augustine Amphitheatre on December 22 starting at 5pm.  Join the St Augustine Community Chorus in their festive part of “A December to Remember.”  Admission is free.

Two popular events close out this year:  the Old Town Arts and Craft Show being held December 28 and 29 at Francis Field.  A juried art show features artists both local and from around the country with works in every medium imaginable.  Hours are 10 to 5 both days and admission is free.

On the 28th Flagler’s Legacy Historic Tours will host a holiday tour of Markland House at 102 King Street.  An extraordinary building with a rich provenance, this tour sells out quickly so get yourself on this list promptly.

Dear friends and readers, it is with genuine sadness that I write this last Downtown Neighbors column as this feature will sunset at the end of the month.  I can’t thank all of you enough for the kind words, compliments and most of all for the affirmation that not only did you read my pieces but you took action and participated in the cultural, charitable and culinary events you learned about here.  I’m still out here and you can find me at arriola.irene@gmail.com.

Irene Arriola Real Estate, Inc.
81 King Street, Suite B Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Email: arriola.irene@gmail.com | Office phone: 904.829.2002
Cell phone: 904.669.0691 | Fax: 904.829.2029