BLINGO…A WoW Game Night!

The smiles were as bright as the “bling” at the United Way Women of Worth (WoW)’s first-ever Blingo event on January 11. More than 160 women and men gathered for food, drinks, fun and games, raising nearly $4,000 for WOW’s Reading Pals program.

The third event in WoW’s Design Decorate Discover series sponsored by Ocala Health, the game night was a takeoff on traditional Bingo, featuring donated jewelry prizes for each round. The grand prize was a white gold and diamond necklace from Ocala’s Lady Jeweler, Nancy Porter.

Guests enjoyed a buffet prepared by Rosemary & Thyme Catering, including bourbon meatballs, tortelli skewers, lemon chicken kabobs, caprese, and fruit. Over at the bar, husbands and significant others of WoW members had donned pink bow ties and volunteered to serve wine and other libations. The ladies of WoW were blinged-out in sparkly tiaras and Blingo aprons, and caller Linda Arvanitis kept the games fun and lighthearted with her quick wit and great sense of humor.

WOW Chair Christie Casey explained that WoW is the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, and has been in Marion County more than 10 years.

“Our worth is what you give back to Marion County,” she told the crowd. “We celebrate the opportunity to meet the needs of Marion County families and children,” she said, adding that Reading Pals is the current focus of their commitment to early childhood literacy. Some 235 volunteer reading pals meet once a week with kindergarteners who are struggling with reading, and donations from the community allow the program to provide students with at least 25 books a year to take home and build a family library.

Speaker Rose Watroba, Ocala Health’s VP of Neuroscience, explained that game nights are a great way to promote good brain health.

“Playing games improves your brain function,” she said, adding that being social and talking with friends also help to stimulate the brain and keep it healthy.

Women of Worth is accepting new members and Reading Pals volunteers; more info at or on Facebook @womenofworth.

First Impressions

Although the First Friday Art Walk was cancelled due to cold weather, more than 100 people crowded into the Brick City Center for the Arts on January 5 for the opening of Jordan Shapot’s First Impressions exhibit.

“I hope this work inspires other local artists to do great things locally,” Shapot said of the collection of oil paintings based on the early 1900s photographs of Native Americans taken by Edward S. Curtis.

The event also featured Native American flute music by Frank Sunshadow Curtis, the great-great grand nephew of the photographer, and the Sioux-style teepee he constructed in the courtyard.

Smocala Smoke & Vape

A fine tobacco & vape store where the scents are pleasant, the atmosphere is clean and bright, and the staff provides service with a smile.

If you’ve traveled College Road after dark, chances are you’ve seen the Smocala sign — a bright, color-changing neon sign in College Park Plaza, across from Paddock Mall.

This clean, welcoming, high-quality smoke and vape shop recently celebrated its first anniversary. They pride themselves on offering customers an all-in-one-shop for e-cigarettes, e-juice, hookahs, and a wide variety of tobacco products — sold by friendly and knowledgeable staff.

“We get great satisfaction out of spending time with customers and finding out their needs,” says the owner, a native Ocalan who opened the hometown business in November 2016.

Manager Tyler Ming has been at the store since before the doors were opened. He and his staff of six make it a point to greet everyone who comes in the door.

“We have a great group of employees who are always willing to help anybody who comes in the store,” he says. “Our employees know our products and are friendly and willing to help customers — it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re looking for.”

The clean, bright shop features a wide variety of products in well-organized displays.

Vaping devices, or e-cigarettes, and liquid, or e-juice, are the most popular products Smocala sells.

“Vaping is an awesome alternative to cut traditional tobacco out of your life,” Ming says. He explains that in contrast to traditional cigarettes, many of which contain more than 8,000 chemicals, vape has only four ingredients. The popular Naked 100 line, one of their best sellers, features all natural and organic flavoring.

Ming himself quit cigarettes in favor of vape.

“I quit smoking five years ago,” he says. “I’ve stuck with vaping the whole time and I’ve never been happier — I can run, I can breathe, I can smell.”

Ming explains that vaping liquids come in a variety of pleasant scents, with the most popular being fruit or dessert scents, like Hawaiian passionfruit/orange/guava, key lime butter cookie, and rainbow sherbet, but there is no burning or “ashy” smell.

One of the first things you notice walking into Smocala is that is smells good. They carry the full line of Wildberry incense and their clean-burning, natural soy wax candles.

For more traditional tobacco consumers, Smocala offers the most popular brands of cigarettes, as well as more natural, additive- and chemical-free brands like Native Spirit.

Smocala has one of the biggest selections of cigarillos around, including all the popular brands like Swisher, and a variety of limited edition and hard-to-find flavors at competitive prices.

While they carry various gauge cigars, their offerings are limited to two high-quality brands: award-winning Archetype and customer favorite ACID.

Pipe smokers can find a full line of pipe tobacco and a beautiful selection of clean-burning, American-made artisan glass pipes. Smocala carries the highly-sought-after Rooster Apparatus line from artist David Goldstein, who pioneered the crushed-glass percolator technique.

Hookahs in all sizes, shapes and colors are available, along with flavored wet tobacco and all the accessories.

Although it’s a smoke shop, Ming says they have actually helped people quit smoking with the aid of other products.

“We have a customer who’s quit smoking for six months using our nicotine toothpicks,” he says. “If anyone’s looking to move away from tobacco, our staff is very knowledgeable about alternatives.”

Even if you don’t smoke, vape, or use nicotine products, Smocala’s gift and novelty items are among the best. Their large assortment of Zippo lighters includes many hard-to-find Harley Davidson and military designs. Their novelty section includes a fun array of party games, toys, t-shirts and posters.

“It’s a place where everybody can be happy for a little bit,” Ming says.

College Park Plaza
3131 SW College Road, Suite 403

Monday – Saturday 9 am – 10 pm, Sunday 11 am – 10 pm

Follow Smocala Smoke & Vape on Facebook and on Instagram @smocala_smoke_and_vape

Click here to learn more

Molly Maguire’s of Ocala

Fresh food selections with a wee bit o’ Irish flair

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

Just a block from the Downtown Square, tucked into a cozy spot on SW 1st Avenue, is Molly Maguire’s Eatery. Don’t let the unassuming storefront fool you – this place is hoppin’ with fresh food, beer and Irish fun!

The neon Guinness sign in the window announces what you’ll find behind the wooden bar – a case of cold, frosty mugs waiting for a perfectly-poured dark Irish stout. The tap features five other brews, including a locally-brewed Infinite ale selection. Their bottled beers range from other Irish and imported favorites, to more than 20 craft beers to Irish and domestic hard ciders – with more than 50 choices on the menu. They also offer a full selection of wines.

Come in for a pint and relax in a comfortable chair in one of the corner conversation nooks or claim a stool at the bar, but stay for the food. Lunch specials always include the homemade soups, which are so popular they are also sold by the pint and by the quart. Follow Molly-Maguires-of-Ocala on Facebook for soup-of-the-day announcements that will have your tastebuds twitching well before lunchtime.

Homemade salad dressings including Greek, lemon vinaigrette and ranch are delectable atop their diverse lineup of fresh salads like the beautifully-presented Ahi Tuna Salad, with its cracked-pepper-rubbed, gently-seared tuna filet atop mixed greens. It’s an explosion of flavor and textures – grape tomatoes, fresh cucumber, tangy Feta cheese, salty sunflower seeds and sweet dried cranberries. Salads and the soup of the day are always gluten free.

Their menu claims it’s “where the filthy birds roost” and, indeed, the Molly’s Dirty Bird is one of the most popular items on the menu, with its hand-carved applewood smoked chicken breast, carmelized onions and gooey melted cheese all pressed on hot Cuban bread.

Meats are smoked on the outdoor smoker every morning by the lovely Miss Patti, and on a fair day you can enjoy your meal at a sidewalk table, which offers a peek at the western sky come sunset.

Molly Maguire’s is open for breakfast and lunch every day except Sunday, and now offers later hours and live music Thursday through Saturday. Be warned, however, if you want a serving of the homemade banana pudding, come early – it’s so delicious that it often sells out before evening!

Owner Geroge Carrasco and his crew are already planning for St. Patrick’s Day, which is their biggest celebration of the year, and this year will mark their first anniversary at this location. You can expect savory shepherd’s pie and hearty portions of corned beef and cabbage. Watch their Facebook page for updates, and plan to get there early. With the holiday falling on Saturday this year, you can spend the whole day reveling in good times galore!

Molly Maguire’s of Ocala
17 SW 1st Avenue Ocala FL

Keeping the Dream Alive

On one of the coldest mornings of the year, thousands of men and women, young and old, braved a cold north wind and temperatures barely above freezing. They bundled up their children and grandchildren, pushing the little ones in strollers. For many, Monday, January 15 was a day off work or school, but that didn’t stop them from gathering as early as 7:00 a.m. to join in Ocala’s annual MLK March. As marchers lined up on Broadway Street, the beat of the drums and cymbals from Vanguard High School gave the gathering a parade-like feeling.

“You might have a day off, but take it as a day on,” said Ire Bethea, Chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission, the group of volunteers that organizes the event. He called the annual march “a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King.”

According to the commission, around 3,000 people, including nearly 50 church and school groups, carried banners with sayings like “Keep the Dream Alive” and marched the mile from the Downtown Square to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Complex on West State Road 40, where they were met with the mouthwatering aromas of barbecue and carnival food vendors’ fried fare.

Bethea estimated that a total of around 6,000 people participated throughout the Day in the Park event, which featured six hours of entertainment by a lineup of locals including musicians Selwyn Birchwood Band, Samp Da Champ, and D-Nice, jazz bands from Lake Weir and West Port High Schools, and performers like the Marching Majorettes. The events on MLK Day are the culmination of a week of activities sponsored by the commission, including a youth day, prayer breakfast, ecumenical church service and wreath ceremony.

“I’ve done the march every year since I was hired,” said Sherriff Billy Woods. “An event like this is what makes our community so great. Everybody is here, it doesn’t make a difference what race or ethnicity. This community is the greatest.”

Dr. Jim Henningsen, President of the College of Central Florida, marched with the school’s men’s basketball team. “We value diversity and inclusiveness, and are trying to help educate the world about reducing discrimination and making sure we have equality for everyone,” he said. “The vision of Dr. King is amazing and we’ve got to keep that message going forward.”

Marion County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Heidi Mayer was proud to see so many young people participating. “This event shows what proactive, positive leadership does,” she said. “By remaining calm, civil, yet passionate and informed, look what you can do — you can change the course of history. Today is so important. You had a man who would not respond to hatefulness but would continue loving people and trying to show them his point of view and it worked. This is a message that we have to carry on every day.”

Esther Johnson, who comes from Fort McCoy every year with her group from Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, said the importance of the event for her is also tied to love.

“It gives us an opportunity to show love to all mankind,” she said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and the 55th anniversary of his March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Why am I so tired?” Part 2: Vitamin Deficiencies

Fatigue can be an early indicator of many serious illnesses, but in many cases, the solution is simple. If you are in good health and still feel constantly tired, a few easy lifestyle changes may be all it takes to feel your best. In this three-part series, we explore how dehydration, vitamin deficiencies and constipation contribute to fatigue.

By: Whitney Willett / Medical Editor

Thinking back on our childhood, many of us remember doing things with the promise that they would help us grow up big and strong. If you were a kid in the 1970s or 80s, I bet you remember the beloved Flintstone chewable vitamins. They smelled like candy, were shaped like your favorite characters and didn’t taste like any of the other horrible things in the medicine cabinet. Taking vitamins gave us the confidence to protest eating our vegetables. And even though most of the vitamin was caked up in our molars and never digested, it was a staple that mom insisted on.
All these years later, we know that those vitamins were really a novelty. While vitamins are very important to our health, the source is also important. Vitamin deficiency anemias are a very real thing and can play a huge role in contributing to fatigue. If you are in generally good health and still find yourself dragging and never feeling fully rested, a vitamin deficiency may be the culprit.
Vitamins and minerals play a key role in our blood health, bone health, immune strength, nervous system function, muscle strength, vitality of our hair/skin/nails and our body’s ability to repair itself. Our body cannot work efficiently if we have a deficiency in certain vital nutrients, which can be a big contributor to your energy level and stamina. The most common symptoms of vitamin deficiency are fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness and metal confusion.
The causes of most vitamin deficiencies are our lifestyles. Some deficiencies are congenital and exist from birth, but fortunately, most of us have deficiencies we can correct with lifestyle modifications. The most common causes of vitamin deficiencies are: lack of a balanced diet, drinking soda, smoking, and taking certain medications. Eating a diet that is lacking certain food groups (especially dairy, red meat, fish, and leafy green vegetables) is almost certain to leave you with a vitamin deficiency. Soda contributes to vitamin deficiency in two ways: it depletes vitamins and minerals from places like your bones, and creates an environment in your digestive system where vitamins are unable to be absorbed efficiently. Smoking impairs the absorption and synthesis of vitamin C. Finally, NSAID pain relievers and most prescription acid reflex medications also inhibit the body’s ability to absorb vitamins because of how they affect the environment in the digestive track. (Side note: Vitamin deficiencies also result after having gall bladder removal surgery or gastric bypass surgery.)
Common vitamin and mineral deficiencies that lead to chronic, long-lasting fatigue are also the ones that have the most impact on how our bodies function, and thus are the most crucial. They include folate (B-9), B-12, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, potassium and magnesium.
A deficiency in folate causes fatigue and reduces the number of red blood cells in your blood stream, and may lead to poor growth and unhealthy hair, skin and nails. Foods that are high in folate include beans, lentils, leafy greens and fruits.
B-12 deficiency can be either congenital (known as pernicious anemia) or acquired through lack of intake or absorption. If you are born with pernicious anemia, your body lacks intrinsic factor proteins that help the small intestine absorb B-12 and you need to be monitored by a medical professional. For the rest, it is usually caused by a diet lacking in fish, chicken, milk and yogurt. B-12 plays a vital role in the production of DNA, which is needed to replace damaged DNA as we age or heal from inflammatory conditions. B-12 is also key in the production of neurotransmitters, which our nervous system uses to tell our bodies how to operate properly. Signs of B-12 deficiency include fatigue, lack of balance, muscle weakness and memory loss.
Vitamin C is often referred to as an antioxidant and our bodies need it for numerous functions – most notably for its role in boosting our immune system. Vitamin C also helps defend the body against free radicals, aids in healing, and makes many other important contributions to overall well-being. A mild to moderate vitamin C deficiency causes fatigue, depression and mild connective tissue disorders. A severe deficiency can lead to serious conditions such as scurvy. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, pineapple, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
Vitamin D is essential for our bone health as well as other important functions. Prolonged periods of vitamin D deficiency have been proven to lead to osteoporosis, especially in women. Consuming milk and yogurt, as well as a safe amount of sunlight will help avoid this deficiency.
Iron anemia is the most commonly known deficiency. Iron helps keep our blood rich in oxygen. Low iron levels cause fatigue, pale skin and thinning hair. Eating beets, oysters, beans, lentils and spinach regularly help keep your iron at optimal levels.
Potassium plays a key role in making sure our heart, nerves and muscles are strong and work properly. Low potassium causes muscles weakness, constipation, numbness and tingling sensations and abnormal heart rhythms. Bananas, whole grains, milk, beans and peas are all high in potassium.
Another important contributor to bone health is magnesium, which plays a role in energy production and aids in efficient elimination. Deficiency in magnesium is marked by fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, cashews, peanuts, spinach, black beans and soy beans.
If you suspect a vitamin deficiency may be to blame for your fatigue, your doctor can perform simple blood tests to check your vitamin levels. If you know you are missing certain food groups from your diet, you can try increasing those foods and noting their affect on your energy level. Eating our vitamins is always the best way to ensure we are getting the nutrients our body needs.

Dr. Jessica Perhealth, a chiropractor at Strive Physical Medicine in Ocala, believes nutrition is a key to good health and says she counsels patients to get their vitamins from food whenever possible.
“Eating a diet of colorful vegetables and fruits is an important way of getting vital nutrients so that our bodies can function they way they’re intended to,” she says.

If consuming certain food groups isn’t an option or is something you are unwilling to do, you can use supplements. BUYER BEWARE: Not all supplements are beneficial. Just like those novelty Flintstone vitamins, many vitamins you find in your local drugstores and big-box retailers are made from synthetic chemicals that our body cannot use, which is the biggest reason over-the-counter vitamins are not FDA approved. Look for whole food vitamins, which you can usually find in health food stores. They are a bit more expensive, but in the case of vitamin supplements, you get what you pay for. The body can better absorb and use vitamins that come from food.

Special Events to Attend During the 2018 Ocala Winter Circuit

$300,000 Longines Grand Prix | Friday, February 16, 2018 | 2pm

Come watch some of the most competitive show jumping riders in the world, compete for the win in this prestigious Grand Prix, before taking on the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ on Sunday.

International Village | Friday-Sunday, February 16-18, 2018 | 10am-3pm

Join HITS in attending our International Village during the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Week of the Ocala Winter Circuit, February 14-18. This family friendly event will feature different food selections from around the world, activities for adults and children, and a meet and greet with some of the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ riders. This event will be fun for equestrians and non-equestrians alike. Activities will include face painting, pony rides, music, and more! We will also be hosting the Budweiser Clydesdales throughout the week. The hitch will make several appearances, including at the International Village. The International Village will take place Friday-Sunday, February 16-18.

Jump Downtown | Saturday, February 17, 2018 | 4:30pm

The second annual “Jump Downtown” event will be held in Ocala’s Downtown Square on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Presented by Ocala Main Street, IHMC (The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition), and the CEP (Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership), Jump Downtown will feature a Parade of Nations honoring the countries and the riders participating in the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ event, followed by a Celebration of the Horse presentation of the 30-plus horse breeds showcasing the diversity of the “Horse Capital of the World”. The Budweiser Clydesdales will also be making an appearance during the event. Additional festivities on the Square will include snacks, music, horse drawn carriage rides, s’mores, and more!

Nations Cup-Children/Juniors | Saturday, February 17, 2018

This event will follow a similar format to the Longines FEI Nations Cup™, but is catered toward young upand-coming riders. Come cheer on these young riders as they put their skills to the test in this challenging competition!

Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018 | Sunday, February 18, 2018 | 1pm

An event you won’t want to miss; the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA 2018 is back for the fourth year in a row at HITS Post Time Farm. Watch some of the most talented show jumping riders in the world take on this unique team competition.

Great American $1 Million Grand Prix | Sunday, March 25, 2018 | 2pm Join us for the 5th Annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. This is the second Grand Prix in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping, which includes the AIG $1 Million Grand Pix in Thermal, California (Match 18), and the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York (September 9).
Check for more details and more events in the near future.

HITS and Marion County – 37 Years and Counting

For 37 years, HITS has called Central Florida its Winter Home, and since 1985, Ocala, the Horse Capital of the World, has been that home. From the Golden Hills property HITS leased for 10 years and then purchased from the Castro family in 1995, to the purchase of Post Time Farm in 2002, HITS’ commitment to the Ocala Winter Circuit has been unwavering.

“We started to outgrow the Golden Hills property,” said Tom Struzzieri, Owner and CEO of HITS, Inc. “As much as I loved it there, and as much history as we had there, it was time to make a change.” Post Time Farm wasn’t for sale when Struzzieri first found it, but the moment it was, he jumped on it. “There is such a great feel to this property. It’s a great place for horses to be. I remember how I felt the first time I stepped onto this property – and I still feel that way today.”

The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit has been a staple of the Show Jumping calendar for decades, and is a proud member of the Ocala and Marion County communities. “We’ve always felt welcome here. We always felt like the community embraced us, but that relationship has really gone to another level in the last few years.”

HITS works closely with the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Marion Country Tourism Development Council, and the Florida Sports Foundation. “The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit brings a great tourism impact to the Ocala/Marion County area each season,” says Corry Locke of the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau. The economic impact of the show on the community is unmistakable – $94 million annually according to an independent study by the Sport Management Research Institute (SMRI) conducted in 2014. And the County and state have noticed: HITS Ocala was named Best Event of the Year – Small Market by the Florida Sports Foundation in 2015, and the Medium Business of the Year Award of Excellence by the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) in 2016.

“We want to give back to our communities,” said Struzzieri. “We bring so many people to the area and it translates into jobs, spending, real estate purchases, heads in beds – it’s all part of creating a symbiotic relationship that is good for HITS and for the communities where we run our events.

“I believe the backing of the community is also one of the reasons we have been awarded the Longines FEI Nations Cup for the fourth time. When we first brought this event to Ocala, I knew that we could run the horse show part of the event. I hoped the community would get behind it too – and they did – to an extent I never imagined.”

The City of Ocala hosted a Welcome Parade and Rider Reception for last year’s Nations Cup, and plans to expand that event this year. “HITS is the event we have looked forward to each and every year for the past 37 years. We appreciate so much the people who attend and participate in the event and the economic impact it creates for our community. It is one of the great events that makes Ocala, Marion County, the ‘Horse Capital of the World,’” said Kent Guinn, Mayor of Ocala.

What It Takes: The Road to the FEI Nations Cup™

For the last 105 years, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Nations Cup Jumping ™ series has been a hallmark of international jumping competition. Noted as one of the most distinguished jumping series for teams from around the globe, The FEI Nations Cup ™ serves as the ultimate test of horse and rider. One might come to question, what does it take to show at this prestigious level?

As with most professional sports, there is no checklist for success or easy way into the big leagues. For a show jumping rider in pursuit of this level of competition, it’s a blend of the right ingredients: a strong support system, a fiery passion for the sport and an unwavering commitment to a lifestyle.

Equestrian events, like the FEI Nations Cup™, are among the most visually compelling competitions in the world of sport. It is also a unique Olympic sport where a human and animal are partnered and a sport where both men and women compete on equal footing, in the same arena.

“This the only Olympic sport where you will see men and women competing equally,” McLain Ward explains. “It is also a sport that involves people in a range of weights, from 100 pounds and up, competing against each other. There is also a range of ages at the international level, which varies from 18 to over 65. I think that very few sports can combine all of these variables together.”

“What it all comes down to is, when you’re talking about the top riders in the world, it’s not just a job,” said the Olympic gold-medalist and ten-time veteran of the FEI Nations Cup™ Finals. “This is not a regular ‘9 to 5’—it’s all you do, and it’s your entire life.”

For equestrians competing at the FEI Nations Cup™, show jumping is not so much a sport as it is a way of being, and a strong support group is just as crucial to the process as the commitment to the goal.

“One thing to be understood, it takes an army meaning the people behind the scenes, including the stable staff, veterinarians, horse owners and, of course, the great athlete underneath you to make it possible,” said Ward.

The road to the FEI Nations Cup™ requires a team effort, and so often the bond between horses and riders of competing teams is overlooked as a major contributing factor to their glory. This is different from other professional sports. The horse and rider act as a team, and without that bond, the sport would not exist.

“You may be the best rider in the world, yet it means nothing without the horse,” said McLain.

Preparation for the FEI Nations Cup™ begins early in the journey for teams who have set their sights on attending. This is a unique event in the fact that there are really two teams in one, the horse and rider as one team intertwined with the other riders and horses for their country. This is different than any other equestrian competition because the riders have to be aware and help support each other, more so than they might at a regular competition. This is another reason that the FEI Nations Cup™ is so prestigious. It is a true test of teamwork in every sense.

Athletes who compete at the FEI Nations Cup™ level so often execute a course with such precision and power, that the physical and mental demands for these athletes is often not understood.

“It’s a sport which demands both strength and speed, balanced with finesse. There are many mental pressures involved in order to get the job done correctly,” said Ward. “Show Jumping should be treated like any sport. And to maintain a long career you must take care of yourself, with a focus on your weight, your strength, and keeping a healthy lifestyle. Those things are very important.”

Riders at the FEI Nations Cup™ must demonstrate excellent emotional control, as well. To put these skills into perspective, riders must think quickly and proactively while simultaneously using a series of subtle demands to guide an animal that might easily weigh a full ton, through a course of jumps that exceed the height of an average female.

“The sport certainly has an extreme element,” McLain said. “It’s exciting to watch horse and rider work together, and when it’s done well it can be spectacular to witness.”

It is those extremes that make the sport of Show Jumping distinct. Those extremes bring together unique and immensely talented horse and rider teams from around the globe, to compete for victory under one common denominator: the FEI Nations Cup™.

In 2015 Team Ireland took the win at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ qualifier in Ocala with Team USA as the runner up. Team Columbia and Team Canada tied for a third place finish. (Insert Photo)

In 2016 Team USA forged ahead for the win at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ qualifier in Ocala. Team Mexico came in second place, with Team Columbia close behind in third. (Insert Photo)

In 2017, again Team Ireland reigned supreme, winning the FEI Nations Cup™ qualifier in Ocala. Team USA came in second, with Team Canada in third. (Insert Photo)

For the 4th year in a row, HITS Post Time Farm has been chosen to host the FEI Nations Cup qualifier, which is being sponsored this year by Longines, making it the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping of the United States of America 2018. It is also being offered as a CSIO5* this year, with unprecedented prize money including $300,000 and $450,000. This event brings attention not only to HITS, but to Marion County. Last year over 5,000 spectators attended the event, making the usually quiet, City of Ocala, a bustling place full of people from countries all over the world.

This year there will also be a Nations Cup section for Junior and Children’s Riders. This will run during the same week, with classes offered Thursday-Sunday.

The locals are extremely supportive of the event, including the Mayor of Ocala, Kent Guinn. “It is one of the great events that make Ocala, Marion County, the Horse Capital of the World” Guinn said. The second annual “Jump Downtown” event will be held in Ocala’s Downtown Square on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 4:30pm. Presented by Ocala Main Street, IHMC (The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition), and the CEP (Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership), Jump Downtown will feature a Parade of Nations honoring the countries and the riders participating in the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping event, followed by a Celebration of the Horse presentation of the 30-plus horse breeds showcasing the diversity of the “Horse Capital of the World”. Additional festivities on the Square will include snacks, music, horse drawn carriage rides, s’mores, and more! This is a free event for all to attend.

Join us on Friday, February 16 for the $300,000 Longines Grand Prix, Saturday, February 17 for the Parade of Nations and Breeds, and Sunday, February 18 for the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping of the United States of America 2018.

Fourth Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition

With arts continuously growing in our community, the City of Ocala is pleased to host the fourth Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition. This competition came to fruition in 2012 when the City adopted a Recreation and Parks Master Plan that recommended developing a Community Arts in Parks Plan designed specifically to address cultural programming in parks and community centers.

The 2018-2019 Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition received 117 entries from across North America, including Canada. A selection jury comprised of local community and arts organization representatives selected 10 sculptures to go on display in Tuscawilla Park and the Tuscawilla Art Park, located just east of the Ocala Union Station, for a 20-month exhibit. The exhibit will include works made of sandstone, concrete, aluminum, steel and scrap metal. Unique to the 2018-2019 Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition, the event will include a solar-powered and kinetic sculpture, as well as two new installations in Lake Tuscawilla. Installation of the sculptures will take place Monday, February 12 through Thursday, February 15.

The 10 sculptures included in the 2018-2019 Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition are:
• Navigator: Mike Hansel, Middletown, Rhode Island
• Transcendence: Corrina Sephora, Atlanta, Georgia
• Robustae: John Gamache, Ocala, Florida
• Job: Claudia Lauster, Naples, Florida
• Leaf Boats: Keith Bryant, Charlotte, North Carolina
• Waves: Richard Whitehill, Earlysville, Virginia
• Monolith Series: Shine: Kevin Lehman, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
• Arabesque: Gus and Lina Ocamposilva, Clearwater, Florida
• Metal Elephant: James Futral, Fort Myers, Florida
• Untitled (Monument to John Glenn): Darryl Lauster, Arlington, Texas

The unveiling reception that is traditionally paired with the opening of this sculpture exhibit has a fresh take for 2018. “BOBA: Beginning of Bolted Art” will feature a fantastic concert performance featuring Ethio-Jazz singer-songwriter Meklit. The reception will transform the art into a lively venue that will allow attendees to experience the sculptures in a new, unique way. Attendees will take a journey through the sculptures with a docent, or guide, while enjoying a signature cocktail and small bite pairing at each stop.

This ticketed event will be held Thursday, February 15 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Tuscawilla Art Park located at 223 NE Fifth Street. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at


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