ColorOcala Contest

Grab your crayons, colored pencils, watercolor markers and cray pas, and join the hot new coloring craze!

Floridians, are you ready to COLOROCALA? Create beautiful art and compete for valuable prizes in Ocala Magazine’s latest big giveaway contest. You could win tickets for four to the Walt Disney World® theme park in Orlando, a family Christmas for four at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, and more. Color us excited!

Our latest contest is specially designed with family fun in mind. With a contest for both children and adults, you and your kids will have plenty to do this summer. And best of all, you can be creative together!

You can always count on Ocala Magazine for the best in news and entertainment, family fun, and fabulous prizes, so let’s get coloring! Show off your artistic side, and you might have a summer you’ll never forget.

Feeling Social?

Visit Ocala Magazine’s Facebook and Instagram pages and Colorala’s Facebook and Instagram pages – and while you’re at it, we hope you’ll Like our pages!

Here’s How You Enter:

You must complete Steps 1 through 4 to qualify for prizes!

  1. Download, print, and color your favorite specially drawn Ocala-themed coloring page from contest sponsor Colorala. (You can download pages as many times as you like.)
  2. Fill out the entry form (below) on the Ocala Magazine website before 6 p.m. Eastern time, July 22, 2016.
  3. Upload a photo of your completed coloring page using the File Upload feature provided on the form.
  4. Post your photo on Facebook OR Instagram before midnight, July 22, 2016. Use the hashtag #ocalamagazinecontest on Facebook OR Instagram in your post. Don’t forget to tag your friends and show off your creative genius!

That’s it. You’ve entered!

Click Each Image to Download a Coloring Page! (PDF Format)

Adult Coloring Page – Thoroughbred
Adult Coloring Page - Thoroughbred
Adult Coloring Page – Silver Springs
Adult Coloring Page - Silver Springs

Children’s Coloring Page – Thoroughbred
Children's Coloring Page - Thoroughbred

Children’s Coloring Page – Silver Springs
Children's Coloring Page - Silver Springs


Entries Are Now Being Judged, Stay Tuned!

Click for Contest Rules

Official Rules

  1. By entering, you agree to abide by The COLOROCALA Official Rules.
  2. All contestants must reside in the state of Florida.
  3. The contest will be administered by contest sponsor 7Hills Communications of Tallahassee, Florida.
  4. Entries must be submitted through the online form located at and all entry requirements must be met before midnight, Friday, July 22, 2016 in order to qualify.
  5. Entries submitted will be screened by 7Hills Communications and/or contest sponsor Colorala of Newport Beach, California, to ensure all entries meet contest requirements.
  6. Ocala Magazine, 7Hills Communications, and Colorala cannot be held responsible for email that is misdirected or undeliverable.
  7. Entries that do not meet all the “Here’s How to Enter” criteria will be disqualified.
  8. 7Hills Communications may, at its sole discretion and depending upon volume of entries, notify contestants whose entries are incorrect and must be resubmitted.
  9. 7Hills Communications will send only properly completed entries to Ocala Magazine.
  10. Completed coloring pages, along with the artist’s name, will be posted on the Ocala Magazine Facebook page and Instagram profile, and the Colorala Instagram profile. If the artist is 12 years of age or younger, the artist’s age also will be published.
  11. Following the conclusion of the contest, a team of fine artists from Colorala will judge the entries and select the winners.
  12. A list of winners will be published on the COLOROCALA Contest official web page, located at; the Ocala Magazine Facebook page; the Ocala Magazine Instagram profile; and the Colorala Color Instagram profile.
  13. Winners must claim their prizes by 5 p.m. Eastern time Monday, August 22, 2016. Any prize not claimed by Monday, August 22, 2016 will be awarded to an alternate winner.
  14. Ocala Magazine and/or 7Hills Communications will make every effort to notify winners via email, telephone, or postal mail within the 31-day prize redemption period. Ocala Magazine and 7Hills Communications cannot be held responsible for winners who cannot be located for notification within the prize redemption period.
  15. Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications will hold all contestants’ personal information except name, age, and city of residence confidential, and will not reveal said information to any third party unless required by law.
  16. By entering, contestants agree to allow Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications to post their names, ages if applicable, and photographs of their coloring pages to social media.
  17. By entering, contestants grant Ocala Magazine permission to publish their coloring pages in Ocala Magazine without remuneration. Published entries will be credited.
  18. By entering, contestants grant Ocala Magazine permission to publish photos of the winners, if applicable, without remuneration.
  19. Anyone employed as a professional artist, or who holds a college or university degree in studio art or graphic design, is not eligible to participate.
  20. Employees of Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications and their families are not eligible to participate.
  21. Each participant may enter the contest only once.
  22. All children 12 years of age or younger in a single family may submit one entry each for the children’s contest.
  23. Only one contestant 13 years of age or older from a single family may submit an entry to the adults’ contest.
  24. Only one prize per family will be awarded.
  25. While we encourage parents and legal guardians to experience the joy of coloring together with their children, contestants 12 years of age or younger must color their own coloring pages without physical assistance from any third party.
  26. All contestants 13 years of age or older must color their own coloring pages without assistance from any third party.
  27. Because children must be 13 years of age or older to have a Facebook or Instagram account, entries from children 12 years of age or younger must be submitted by a parent or legal guardian.
  28. Entries submitted by children 12 years of age or younger without parental supervision and consent will be disqualified.
  29. Contestants must abide by all Facebook and Instagram rules. Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications cannot be held responsible for any adverse decisions made by Facebook or Instagram as a result of a contestant’s violations of their Terms of Service.
  30. Contestants may use crayons, colored pencils, watercolor markers, or oil pastels (cray pas) to complete their coloring pages.
  31. Contestants may not use online or electronic coloring apps to complete their pictures. All entries colored with electronic coloring applications will be disqualified.
  32. One grand prize and two honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the children’s coloring contest.
  33. One grand prize and two honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the adults’ coloring contest.
  34. Contestants, or the parent or legal guardian of contestants 12 years of age or younger, must pick up prizes by appointment at the offices of Ocala Magazine, located at 743 E. Fort King Street, Ocala, Florida 34471. Ocala Magazine, at its sole discretion, may waive this requirement for winners who are not area residents.
  35. Winners must present a picture ID to receive their prizes.
  36. Ocala Magazine may, at its sole discretion, require a scanned or faxed copy of a picture ID before shipping prizes to winners who are not area residents.
  37. The Children’s Grand Prize Package is subject to the terms and conditions of the Walt Disney World® theme park.
  38. The Adults’ Grand Prize Package is subject to the terms and conditions of Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center.
  39. While we invite contestants to be fans, liking or following any Facebook page or Instagram profile is not required to win a prize.
  40. No purchase is necessary to win a prize.
  41. All judging/winner decisions made by Colorala Color are final.
  42. All contest decisions made by 7Hills Communications are final.
  43. Questions about The COLOROCALA Coloring Contest must be submitted via email to No telephone calls, please.

Ocala Magazine: Digital Edition July 2018

Ocala Magazine’s July 2018 Digital Edition is now available—Read it Now Online! If you missed our May 2018 Digital Edition, you can read it online, here!

What You’ll See in This Issue

  • Our annual “40 under 40” edition
  • An exclusive look on the menu with Chefs of Napoli
  • Our Medical Journal presents “Fatigue: Part 3”
  • Trends in wedding photography are highlighted in Matrimonial Memories

Ocala Magazine: Digital Edition June 2018

Ocala Magazine’s June 2018 Digital Edition is now available—Read it Now Online! If you missed our May 2018 Digital Edition, you can read it online, here!

What You’ll See in This Issue

  • Ocala’s Celebration of Nurses
  • An exclusive look on the menu with The Fiery Chef
  • Your Hurricane Season Preparedness Checklist
  • At Home with The Griffiths

Ocala Magazine: Digital Edition May 2018

Ocala Magazine’s May 2018 Digital Edition is now available—Read it Now Online! If you missed our April 2018 Digital Edition, you can read it online, here!

What You’ll See in This Issue

  • An exclusive look on the menu with Katya Vineyards
  • At the amazing home of the Coates family
  • A weekend getaway at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida
  • Our annual private school guide
  • Our student athlete of the month, Forest High School’s beautiful Molly Shutters

Big Day Beauty Treatments

Big Day Beauty Treatments: Light Therapy Facial

A Light Therapy facial helps you put your best face forward right away, with no redness.

Written by Danielle Lieneman, Writer
Photography By Chris Redd, Chief Photographer

It’s the day before that big dance, special date, or even your wedding. You’re stressed but excited. Then you look in the mirror: it looks like your face has been taken over by someone — or something — sinister. We’ve all been there. There’s nothing worse than blackheads, blemishes, and facial discoloring and pigmentation, especially on the most important day of your life.

Thankfully, a Light Therapy facial can save the day — and your face. Unlike traditional facials, a Light Therapy facial gives you same-day results with no residual redness or sensitivity, can treat even the most hard-to-cover-up blemishes and redness, and even helps with fine lines and wrinkles.

Erin Tomaszewski said her first Light Therapy facial was relaxing and an overall fun experience, adding that esthetician Stephanie Dicken, owner of Celeste & Co. Salon and Spa, made her feel very comfortable.

“I love seeing clients’ reactions,” Dicken says. “You can see the pick-me-up on their face.”

Pick-me-ups and spa treatments don’t require endless amounts of time to see results. The LED Light Therapy session is only 45 to 60 minutes long, giving you enough time to relax but still short enough to do on your lunch break. The best part is the nearly immediate result. With careful prep before the service, the photons begin reacting with the facial skin cells the moment the light touches your face.


For Erin’s treatment, an oxygen enzyme solution and serum was applied before the next phase of the facial: the light therapy. But how does it work? There are four different modalities of lights: red to fight acne, green to counteract redness, blue light to ease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and yellow to treat age spots and pigmentation.

Dicken and her team evaluate each client’s skin to determine which mixture of lights will provide the best results. She isn’t afraid to tell her clients what they really need, either.

Depending on the diagnosis, clients can expect to spend approximately 20 minutes relaxing underneath the rainbow of lights emitted by the facial machine while the wavelengths penetrate the skin.

Some clients see results just minutes after the facial, while others sometimes don’t see the full results for a few hours, or even the next day — but they do see results.

Celeste & Co. Salon and Spa is one of the few spas within the Ocala area that offers a Light Therapy facial Monday-Saturday. Priced at $125 per session, book your appointment today — your face will thank you. To make your appointment, call (352) 622-1354 or book online at All services are appointment only.

Danielle Lieneman is a freelance writer and editor in Ocala and Gainesville.

Big Day Beauty Treatments: Eco-Certified Sunless Tan

A natural spray tan gives you a good-to-go glow for your special event.

Written by Lisa McGinnes, Coordinating Editor
Photography By Chris Redd, Chief Photographer

Many brides have been cautioned not to get a spray tan before their wedding. Nearly everyone’s heard a horror story about a sunless tan that resulted in orange skin.

Simply Sunless Ocala is working to change that, and owner Brooke Counts’ flawless results shine as bright as her smile. She gives every client, male or female, a completely-customized spray tan so natural that the products used are eco-certified.

“I keep many, many undertones to match each person’s natural skin tone,” she says. “I keep about 18 different colors on hand. There’s a science to it.” Counts says she has the support of several local dermatologists and obstetricians because the product is so gentle on the skin and contains natural oils and vitamins. She explains that the color comes from sugar cane or beets and doesn’t discolor or stain the skin. “There’s nothing in it that can permanently harm you,” she says. Her custom skin care products help prepare the skin before the tan and keep skin moisturized to make the tan last as long as possible. Counts gives tanners specific skincare instructions before and at the visit. The spray tan process itself only takes a few minutes.

Kayla Johnson, a college student who works at Salon Bliss, says she likes to get a Simply Sunless tan before special events, like attending a friend’s wedding or going to the beach.


“It looks beautiful,” she says. “You feel all glowy, all bronzy; you feel like you’re ready for the event. You’ll never come out orange with Brooke. It’s always perfect for your skin tone – it’s a nice golden look.”

Counts says she first learned to spray tan in 2005 when she worked in a salon while going to college, and she started Simply Sunless seven years ago as a way to do something she loves and have time in her schedule for her husband and children. She is master certified and has put a lot of care into extras like a filter system and feet and hand barriers. Her space inside Salon Bliss offers complete privacy for clients, and she also takes great care to make each person feel comfortable.

“I want you to feel at home; I want you to feel relaxed,” she says. She knows many clients feel nervous or self-conscious, especially at their first visit, but she reminds them that “we are perfectly imperfect.”

Many brides find that the sunkissed glow from a spray tan gives them a confidence boost and also helps them to look their best in photos since it evens out skin tones and tan lines. Counts

finds satisfaction in giving clients that glow, but says her true measure of success is when a person walks out with a smile on their face. “It’s more for how you feel, making you feel good about yourself.”

Simply Sunless custom, premium spray tan is $45 and can be booked online at or by calling 352-843-2922. You can come to their location at 104 SE 1st Ave. Suite D or book a mobile service at your home or office.


Cannon on FIRE

Ocalan Sadie Cannon is finding success in the Nashville music scene.

Written by Lisa McGinnes, Coordinating Editor
Photography by Chris Redd, Chief Photographer

She’s young, she’s beautiful, and she’s talented. Anyone in the music business knows those qualities help, but are not quite enough to build a career. What native Ocalan Sadie Cannon has that sets her apart is an incredible amount of determination and hard work.


“You just can’t get tired in the music industry,” Cannon says. “They say it’s an around-the-clock job and it is. While you’re sleeping, someone else is awake trying to make it happen.”

In February, Cannon achieved the first big milestone since moving to Nashville last summer: she released her first single, “Lady.” Not only did she record the vocals; she wrote the song – and played the ukulele.

Playing the Ukulele

Ukulele? Yes, it’s an unusual choice, but Cannon says it fits her “beachy pop” style, and it’s been a trademark of hers since she picked it up in her favorite teacher’s classroom at Vanguard High School.

“Mr. Carstenn made it a cool thing for everyone to play ukulele,” she says of the teacher who had “Jimmy Buffett style.” “Ukulele ended up in a song in Nashville,” she laughs, saying she played it herself since “there are not many ukulele studio musicians.”

Todd Carstenn says he still has that ukulele in class and kids still pick it up once in a while to play it. “Funny, it sounds so much different in their hands than it did in Sadie’s,” he says. He remembers that on block days the class would take a break and “Sadie would inevitably grab the uke and start singing.” Carstenn says he’s not surprised at all that his former student is now in Nashville doing what she loves. “I am so excited for Sadie,” he said. “To say that I am proud of Sadie is an understatement. To chase a dream that is so different than the dream that so many others chase … doesn’t get any better than that. Glad I played even a small part. We have incredible kids in this town.”


Growing up in Ocala

Growing up in Ocala, Cannon performed in local theatre productions and friends say she was “always” singing in the car. She started piano lessons at age five, played the clarinet in the

Grace Christian School band, and along the way learned to play guitar. She remembers writing songs as early as fifth grade.

Cannon credits her squad she calls “supporters” who have helped her organize events, produce a video, and promote her music on social media, but make no mistake, Cannon has been busy herself. In addition to maintaining a full time course load at Belmont University, she works part time for a music company, performs live shows in the evenings as often as possible, and is always networking to make connections in the music industry. She says she’s a natural risk taker and has tried to become part of the Nashville community as fast as she can.

Her mother had some concerns about her youngest daughter moving to Nashville, Cannon says, but says her family has been supportive, and her father, Dr. Odest Frank Cannon, is “an awesome, supportive dad” who has “been a ride-or-die supporter.”

Writing Her Own Music

The self-described “really big Disney kid” listened to the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus during her childhood, and says Taylor Swift was also an early musical influence. Like Swift, Cannon writes all her songs, which she says are her emotions coming out. Her next single, “Trouble in Paradise,” she says is very “beachy,” reggae-influenced, and will have a “fun and crazy twist” in the chorus. “Trouble in Paradise” is due to be released in April with a release party in Nashville and live-streamed online.

“I love creating; it’s like a secret you have with yourself until the public hears it,” she says. “It’s so exciting, creating then performing, and seeing it on people’s faces is amazing.”

Hear Her Music

Cannon keeps her fans up-to-date on social media. You can read the latest on her website,, or follow her on Instagram @sadiecannon_ to stay in the know.

Is she planning a live show in Ocala?

“I feel like we could definitely make it happen,” she says. “I would love that.”

We would love that too, Sadie. Consider your hometown your number one fan.

I Do’s to Dancing Shoes

It’s easy to create ceremony and reception designs that are as different as night and day.

Written By Lisa McGinnes, Coordinating Editor
Photography By Chris Redd, Chief Photographer
Models Brittney Denman, and Daniel

Her wedding day is a time for the bride to feel her best – beautiful, glamorous, elegant – after all, it is her day. More and more are saying, “yes,” to two dresses, which gives the opportunity to create two different looks for the wedding and reception.

The Bride’s Look

When you can’t decide between two dream dresses, a third option is to incorporate two different looks – one for the ceremony and another for the reception. Updating makeup during the wardrobe change can help a bride feel classically elegant during the ceremony and more glamorous for dinner and dancing.

Ocala makeup artist Soniyah Medina says a makeup artist can help the bride make an easy transition from the ceremony dress to the reception dress, sometimes called a “cake-cutting dress” or “going away” dress.

“I stay behind and do a change in the lid,” she says, explaining the wedding trend right now is the “Golden Globes” look, a smoky eye with lots of shimmer and shine. Soniyah says she can freshen up a bride’s makeup after the emotion of the ceremony, and at the same time add more depth in the eyes and add some glitz to pair with this year’s shimmery fabrics and glamorous reception dresses.

Many brides are choosing the ease and affordability of renting to allow them to wear two dresses. Online companies like Rent the Runway offer on-trend designer dresses for as little as ten percent of the gown’s retail price.


The Flowers

Whether you have a DIY budget or want full service floral design, a florist experienced with weddings can help you incorporate the perfect florals, greenery and colors in your ceremony and reception – even if the two looks are as different as night and day.

Ocala florist Taylor Grace is already booking weddings into 2019, after opening The Graceful Gardener a year ago. She says because she hand selects the flowers and greenery and chooses custom colors and fabrics for each wedding, it’s easy for her to give brides and grooms a light, wispy ceremony design with the bouquet and accompanying arrangements or arches, and then a colorful, magical reception design.

Grace, who worked in the event planning industry before opening her business, gets a big smile on her face when she talks about weddings, especially one she designed a few months ago.

“The most memorable [wedding] wasn’t elaborate or fussy,” she says. “It was more magical. It was the most stress-free environment I’ve ever been in on a wedding day. Everyone was laughing and casually setting up and everything was beautiful.”

Grace urges brides and grooms not to rush their wedding-planning decisions, and to “enjoy the moment.” She offers custom services, from super-affordable fresh, loose flowers for DIY couples to a full-service package including design, bouquets and decorations.


Soniyah Medina ( is an Ocala makeup artist.

Taylor Grace ( owns The Graceful Gardener at 42 S Magnolia Ave.

Lemieux Diamond Company ( is located at 6333 SW State Rd 200, Ocala, FL 34476.


Ivy on the Square

New Location Brings Southern Decadence to Ocala’s Historic Downtown Square

Written by R. Jill Fink
Photography by Chris Redd, Chief Photographer

The tireless effort being put into Ocala’s historic downtown may be most evident when you drive over the hand-laid cobblestones on South Magnolia Avenue, just south of the Downtown Square, and the jewel in the crown of this revitalized block is Ivy on the Square.

Exquisitely decorated in muted grays and silver and accompanied by pickled wood floors, the entire space has been painstakingly renovated from floor to ceiling.

A massive, old-fashioned full liquor bar resides in the left side of the divided room, taking up station against a wall of exposed brick. Mirrors reflect the incoming light and bounce it off accompanying jeweled chandeliers and other décor, creating a dazzling display of brilliance that is second only to the delicious selections on the newly expanded menu.


We tried the Thai Shrimp Wontons from the Southern Tapas Menu, which consisted of crispy wonton squares topped with a tasty and surprisingly light sweet chili sauce over perfectly cooked shrimp. The Chicken Wing Flight contained large wing flats and drums, delivered on a good-sized tray with an array of three sauces. Bourbon, honey mustard and PB & J were our choices. For tang and a bit of kick, go for the Bourbon sauce, but the PB & J is a must-try. All of them were fantastic.



Next, we sampled the Filet Mignon from the gluten-free “Char & Coop” supper menu. This eight-ounce, hand-cut, grilled steak is served with a sea salt-crusted baked potato, sautéed mushrooms, vegetable of the day and a fresh garden salad. Our Fried Florida Lobster Tail was a huge portion of succulent, hand-battered lobster tail served with a creamy lemon sauce, baked potato and sautéed vegetables. After all of that decadence, the Pecan Crusted Salmon was a light and refreshing dish created with pan-seared salmon coated with finely ground pecans. The bed of tricolored quinoa upon which the salmon rested added a perfectly paired level of texture to the dish.


Other choices of dinner entrées include Baked Krispy Chicken, Pan-Seared Mahi, expertly crafted salads, hand-cut ribeyes, burgers and wraps.

For lunch, the soup of the day is always a great choice but Fried Green Tomatoes and the Pimento Cheese Fritters are definitely local favorites.

Our three samplings of “Giggle Water,” as the menu states, were the “Lavish Mule,” crafted from Hendricks gin, Roses lime juice, Reed’s ginger beer, and topped with a sprig of fresh lavender; the Southern Stuffed Bloody Mary, which consisted of Tito’s vodka, homemade Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire sauce, Clamato, pickled okra, bleu cheese-stuffed olives, crispy bacon, chilled shrimp, and celery served on the rocks in a huge Mason jar glass rimmed with freshly cracked black pepper and celery salt; and a gorgeous cocktail called “The Bees’ Knees,” which contained Rum Haven coconut rum, Stoli blueberry vodka, lime juice, a splash of ginger ale, fresh blueberries and lime poured over muddled fresh mint leaves.


We didn’t stop there … who can leave The Ivy House, Ocala Magazine’s 2017 People’s Choice “Best Dessert Menu in Town” winner, without having dessert?

The homemade Chocolate Midnight Cake was aptly named. This dangerously divine layer cake was slathered with butter cream cheese icing and drizzled with fudge sauce. Our Bread Pudding, vanilla-soaked French bread with a “whisper” of bourbon cream sauce, was light, fluffy, creamy, a bit boozy and a whole lot of fun. Dessert choices we didn’t have room for, but will try next time, are the Key Lime Pie, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Mousse, Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, Buttermilk Walnut Pie, and Pecan Tulipe, which is a vanilla bean ice cream confection with chocolate ganache and whipped cream served in a homemade praline shell and topped with fruit garnish.

Stroll over from the theatre to cap off the night with a cocktail or enjoy a sweet treat at the dessert bar. Check out their amazing specialty coffee menu as well. End a weekend with style by exploring the downtown area and stopping in for a glorious Sunday brunch. Whether you want to impress a business client or celebrate a special occasion, Ivy on the Square has the atmosphere and the level of service to make that happen for you. Frequent patrons are all greeted by name, but everyone is treated like family.

You can visit The Ocala Ivy on the Square at 53 S Magnolia or the Williston location at 106 NW Main Street. Call for special occasion reservations or more information at 352-622-5550.


18th Annual Medical Expo


On January 20, medical professionals gathered at the India Cultural and Educational Center for the 18th Annual Medical Expo, which featured educational seminars, lunch from Tony’s Sushi and Amrit Palace, and performances by belly dancer Vanja and youth from Dance by Sheila.

“Medical Expo provides a space for doctors across three counties to come together, get their continuing education credits, learn new techniques and learn about recent developments and research in the pharmacy field,” said Coordinator Lakshmi Jagalur. Proceeds are donated to local charities, this year assisting people who suffered due to Hurricane Irma.



Big Lee’s Big Break

Food Network host and celebrity chef Guy Fieri got his claim to fame in 2006 when he was crowned the Next Food Network Star. Adored by people all over the world for his personality, tastebuds and bleach blonde hair, Fieri has been inspiring foodies with his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” finds since the show debuted in 2006.

Guy Fieri understands what it is like to have a passion for something and want to share it. So, in 2017, he and Food Network decided it was time to pay it forward by hosting a show that would find the next big star. The winner of “Guy’s Big Project” would get their own show on the Food Network. The challenge was finding someone who embodied the same drive and charisma for cuisine as Fieri.

When Ocala’s Rashad Jones, owner of Big Lee’s Serious About Barbecue, heard about the new show, his ears perked up. He had watched Fieri over the years and had always rooted for him and his success. This was his chance to make it happen for himself. Something told him to go for it. All too often in life when people learn of rare opportunities, they dismiss them thinking, “What are the chances?” But not Rashad Jones. The Ocala-proud barbecue slayer and food truck entrepreneur believes if you are the “most authentic version of yourself and you work hard, good things will happen.” So he decided to give it his best shot and audition for the show. It was the best decision he could have made because his personality and flair for barbecue knocked their socks off! Not only was he chosen to participate in the competition, but his concept for a travelling food show actually went on to win “Guy’s Big Project”!

After the big announcement of Jones’ win, patrons flooded his Ocala food truck making the line even longer than usual. People waited for a half-hour just to congratulate Jones. Some brought balloons and gifts; others came with well wishes for success. They all left with food from the Food Network star’s food truck, Big Lee’s.

Jones will be the first to tell you there ain’t no shame in his barbecue game! He is a self-proclaimed barbecue nerd and his life revolves around all things barbecue. His dreams came true when his concept for “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” won “Guy’s Big Project.” This allowed him to go on a mission searching for the nation’s best barbecue joints, and rapping about them along the way. Throughout his travels on the show, he discovered some insanely creative recipes and techniques, as well as traditional styles of barbecue with authentic homestyle flavors that will have your mouth watering for smoky goodness. Jones feels passionately about barbecue and believes it should be an experience that evokes all your senses — from the smell of the burning wood to the sizzle and quiet crackle you hear coming from the smoker. The true tell of a good sandwich is when you can feel the sauce seeping out onto your fingers and the meat falls apart in your mouth.

“Eat, Sleep, BBQ” will have you craving ‘cue in no time. And don’t be surprised if watching the show inspires a road trip to one of the spots he features, because they all look amazing!
Season One of “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” was a huge success. Fans are anxiously awaiting more episodes to air and we’re curious to see what Food Network has in store for Ocala’s own barbecue mastermind, Rashad Jones!

Ocala native Amber Tompkins has always had a passion for good food and classic southern hospitality and believes that food is a universal language.

Elle, since we’re light on copy with this story, maybe you can use this quote as a design feature.

“My passion for smoking meats developed years ago when I first witnessed my wife’s uncle, Leon (aka “Big Lee”), and his incredible skills on the smoker.” — Rashad Jones


food & dining

health & wellness