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.

170 Years: Ocala’s Depth, Development, and Definition

By Ben Baugh

It’s a city with a deep and rich history, one that spans more than 170 years. But what is it about the municipality that derives its name from the Timucua word meaning “Big Hammock”? Ocala is also referred to as the “Kingdom of the Sun” and the “Brick City,” taking on a character of its own and creating its own unique place in history.

Ocala and Marion County has been shaped by its past, is undergoing a transformation though its present state, and thanks to careful planning and innovative thinking, is on the cusp of creating a visionary future, endemic to an expanding area whose consistent growth and development has attracted nationwide and global attention.

From its nascent stages when the economy was based on the citrus industry and phosphate mining, the area’s vast natural resources began attracting those who understood the value of the land that lay atop the karst topography and Floridan aquifer. Plantations would be a major component in the area’s early development, with sugarcane, tobacco, turpentine, cotton, citrus and timber becoming important sources of revenue.

The city has seen and survived its fair share of adversity, overcoming the impact of a fire that tore through the municipality on Thanksgiving Day in 1883, destroying five city blocks. But even then, Ocala demonstrated its resiliency, rebuilding using brick and iron, said Brian Stoothoff, Historic Ocala Preservation Society vice president.

Ecotourism and agritourism would remain constant sources of revenue with Hollywood taking notice, with Silver Springs becoming a nationwide attraction.

However, the area’s five rivers and enviable springs only seemed to enhance the area’s presence as a place with significant potential.

We talked to several people who played prominent roles in the development of the area and how they and their families helped to shape the complexion of a county whose past and present will create a future that’s indelibly Floridian but more importantly Ocalan.

There are also ample employment opportunities in the Ocala and Marion County area, with a number of companies boasting a nationwide footprint either basing their operation in the area or having a satellite facility as part of the corporate landscape. According to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership’s 5-year goal, the objective was to create 4,500 jobs, and in the first two years of the plan, through 2018, 2837 jobs were created. During the same time frame, the goal was $400 million in capital investment, and two years into the 5-year plan, the partnership had reached 80% of their objective.

Developer Glen Lane grew up in Miami and went to school at the University of Florida and the University of Miami. He began doing business in Ocala in 1978 with the Turning Hawk and Turning Hawk II communities, relocated to the area, and fell in love with the place he has made his home for over 40 years.

He has left an imprint on the area, developing all four sides of I-75 and route 200, with the Hilton Hotel being the original landmark, Park Centre and Park Centre West and a place that seemed to be on the itinerary of any tourist heading south and on their way to Orlando and the Magic Kingdom.

“The Disney Welcome Center sure made selling real estate a lot easier,” said Lane. “When I moved to Turning Hawk, I had friends from different parts of the world in for the horse sales, and they would call me, and would say, ‘Where do you recommend that I stay?’ And I didn’t have a great recommendation, and sometimes I would say, ‘Stay at my house.’ And then I tied up the land for the Hilton Hotel, and we got that done in partnership with Arvida, the high end developer at the time and they still are, out of Boca Raton.”

Simultaneously, Whit Palmer was developing Paddock Park, and the properties were adjacent, said Lane. Whit Palmer’s influence continues to resonate throughout the area, playing an instrumental role with developing landscaped walkways, medians, signage requirements and underground utilities, changing the quality and complexion of the development, said Lane. Many of the improvements made by Palmer raised the standards and quality of the area, with Palmer and Lane working together on a number of projects, creating an aesthetically pleasing environment that still exists today.

“He [Palmer] was the leader in quality development,” said Lane, who owns the Friendship Center in front of On Top of the World, which he purchased from the Colens. “I’m appreciative. We wanted to do the same kind of thing.”

Sidney Colen purchased the Circle Square Ranch from the Norris Cattle Company, which was nearly 13,000 acres and became a major part of State Road 200 corridor. Kulbir Ghuman bought out Pine Run and developed Oak Run, and those were among the variables driving development in the area. Lane started a group called Task Force 200, where a lawsuit was brought against the state, transforming State Road 200 from a two-lane road to a six-lane road.

“Ken Colen, Kulbir Ghuman, and a lot of the other people, they gave me the money to rent the space at the Hilton, so we could hire the experts to present it to the all the landowners,” said Lane. “The landowners were going to donate the right-of-way to the state in return for negotiable impact fee credits, so then the developers could then buy the impact fee credits from the landowners who donated the land, and it didn’t cost the state anything to get the right-of-way.”

Lane played a critical role in the change, by starting out every televised and public meeting where he spoke, by saying, “The State Road 200 expansion has been in the 10-year plan for 30 years,” generating a significant amount of bad publicity for the Department of Transportation, eventually resulting in monumental transformation.

“I was literally at the meeting of DOT Fifth District in Deland, when Nancy Houston was head of the fifth district at that time, and we had a big meeting room,” Lane said.

“I had the deeds in escrow with the county, there were 99 landowners who had right-of-way, and all 99 agreed to do this, we were ready to turn them over…
she [Houston] said ‘Glen,’ and everybody went silent, ‘If it becomes public knowledge that the state funded this, and could buy the land, do you think people would still donate their land?’”

“I said, ‘Hell no. I won’t either.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Why would you do this? I’m saving the state about $18 million, and if you use my method, you could do this in other areas, where people that own the land along the road dedicate the right-of-way, get impact fee credits, so, the developer and landowner help mitigate the traffic impact on their own, and the state builds the road. And they can save on the land acquisition around the state. I just don’t understand.’”

“She said, ‘This generated so much bad publicity, statewide and Orlando television, and with you saying it’s been in the 10-year plan for 30 years, we decided we had to fund it because you made us look bad.’ ”

“I said, ‘Okay.’ That’s how we got that done,” Lane said.

The county still possesses its original rural character, but mainly its people haven’t lost their character, said George Albright, Marion County tax collector.

“There are a lot of nice people here, and a lot of nice people who’ve moved here,” said Albright. “That’s one of the things that I like about Marion County is its people.”

The senior communities are all-inclusive from an infrastructure standpoint, said Albright. That was a critical component in being able to service people with rapid growth without the infrastructure.

“There were years where highway 200 wasn’t up to its adequate size, and it was causing delays, but that’s been by and large remedied,” said Albright. “I think 200 flows very well.”

About a third of Marion County is permanent green space because it’s in a state park, the Ocala National Forest, and serves as a water recharge area for the Floridan Aquifer, high magnitude springs, and rivers.

‘’Water, having clean water and plentiful water, is going to be the biggest challenge,” said Albright. “It’s a challenge for Marion County in the future.”

Albright also had the distinction of living next to the Ma Barker House when he was growing up in Lake Weir.

“I have a very long and personal history with that house,” said Albright.

Ecotourism and history tourism have also brought a lot of people to the Marion County area, said Albright.

“It tends to be long-term, and we’ve been very blessed that our elected county commissioners for the last 20 to 40 years, as well as the elected city council for the last 20 to 40 years, have all been historical preservationists,” said Albright. “They put a value on our historical sites.”

The county has designated northwest Marion County as an equine management area, said Albright. The county’s recognized that the equine industry and what has come with it is one of the things that provides the county with its unique character.

“There are a lot of ancillary services that have come to Marion County because of that,” said Albright. “I think that the growth will stay fairly compact on [County Road] 27, and won’t move much into the equine area.”

There is concern about the possibility of a toll road going through northwest Marion County, said Albright. A thoroughfare of that nature would dramatically change the complexion of the landscape.

“I think that may be as much of a character change to the area as growth,” said Albright. “A toll road, unless you make it really limited access, will have commercial nodes at every exit. You’ll see rapid growth because of people’s ability to get up on a toll road and go to faraway places in a short period of time.”

“I think what Larry Roberts [World Equestrian Center] is going to be doing is fantastic,” said Albright. “I think it’s going to put Marion County on the map for the whole world. We have the equine industry here, but now through Mr. Roberts’s enormous financial efforts, we’re going to be able to showcase that. We’re going to get a lot of visitors that we haven’t had in the past, which I think is a good thing. Communities love to have visitors come and spend their money and leave. That’s probably one of the best situations from a taxation standpoint that a community can have.”

It was a market study for Edward DeBartolo Sr. that brought developer Jerry Glassman to Ocala. DeBartolo was under contract to purchase land, which was the property that was going to be the Paddock Mall. It was a friend of Glassman’s who was a Tampa-based broker, who worked with the DeBartolos, who had been asked by them to do the study, but he wasn’t familiar with the area. Glassman’s friend called him, and the rest is history.

“Being a consultant to DeBartolo, I learned that the mall was going to come there, and I started to buy land and develop it. I bought up a mile square around the mall,” said Glassman. “We developed from where Home Depot and Bob Evans are on State Road 200, all of those parcels down to the college. We developed the land and then sold it to various companies that put their projects down. We developed from Burger King all the way down to the Buick dealership, which is now the Nissan Dealership on 17th Street, where I put in Walmart originally, in the shopping center where Blockers is in now and Hobby Lobby. I put the Burger King there with Gene Camp. That was his.”

Glassman has been involved with a deep volume of projects, helping to grow the area to what it is today, bringing in a number of national outlets, making Ocala a preferred destination. He was also responsible for developing the shopping center where Best Buy is located. The developer also left a definitive imprint on 27th Avenue.

It was Glassman’s friend, John Curtis, who was responsible for building the apartments on 27th avenue. The former Michigander also built Easy Street and Cala Hills, and moved Walmart to their present location, partnering with several people to have the corporate entity relocate to their current site. Glassman, with several other people, donated the land for Scott Springs Park, brokering the deal, working with the city to see that through to fruition. He and his wife are the current owners of the Ocala Family Medical Center.

The developer was also part of a group that was created in 1980 that was known as Vision 2020 that was composed of the most influential people in Ocala. Glassman’s wife was the President of the Central Florida College Foundation for 20 years.

“She built their endowment from $5 million to $20 million over that period of time,” said Glassman.

Major development projects are showcasing the area’s future vision, including the Hilton Garden Inn on the city’s square, set to open in February, and a new commerce park in Marion Oaks, adding to an already deep business footprint.

As a state senator, Dennis Baxley does quite a bit of traveling as an elected official, but the best part of his job is coming home to Belleview and Marion County.

“We’ve watched the growth of the state over the past 50 years, and it’s been remarkable,” said Baxley, who was born in Ocala in 1952. “Florida’s roots are very close to the surface…there are changes happening around us very quickly. We’re in a very positive period of economic well-being, after going through a deep recession a few years ago.”

One-third of Marion County will never be developed, largely in part of the green belting. The Ocala National Forest, the state parks, lakes, rivers and streams, springs and property purchased around the springs have been preserved for future generations. The equine industry is big part of the brand, beauty, and green belting of the region, said Baxley.

“My own roots are very rural,” said Baxley. “My dad was born in Weirsdale, down on the south side of Lake Weir. My granddaddy grew orange trees, when citrus and cattle were king. My mom was raised on a farm in Oxford, just over the Marion County line in Sumter County.”

The son of a pastor, Baxley lived in different parts of Florida, but Marion County has always been home. In June 1970, after graduating from high school, Baxley went to work for the Hiers Family at Hiers Funeral Home. Baxley who has dedicated his life to serving others, has lived a life that’s been well-lived, one of meaning and purpose. The opportunity to walk through life and death with several generations of families has provided Baxley an intimacy with the community he represents.

“Little did I know, the kid that washed the cars and mowed the yard, went on ambulance calls and was the Saturday secretary, would one day be the principal,” said Baxley, who has served in more than 20 community organizations. “And help grow the company to six business locations and serve about 1,500 families per year…I’m very thankful to have been a part of the script for the past 50 years.“

And as Ocala and Marion County move forward, Baxley believes the area’s time is just beginning, and the area’s residents are living in one of the most exciting chapters in north central Florida’s history. Lake, Sumter, and Marion Counties continued expansion has led to additional growth in the corporate sector, becoming a regional distribution hub for companies with a nationwide footprint.

Transportation will play a critical role in the future, said Baxley.

“We’re in the center of a great time of job opportunities; it’s the lowest unemployment rate that I’ve seen,” said Baxley. “The country’s in bloom, north central Florida is at the very apex of it.”

The county is synonymous with equestrian sport and the equine industry. The Marion County Fair conducted racing in 1908. Carl Rose moved to Florida in 1916 to supervise construction of the first asphalt road in Florida, according to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame. He would become the area’s pioneer in the Thoroughbred industry with his Rosemere Thoroughbred Farm. It was through his experimentation with limestone that he determined that the soil would be perfect for livestock, both equine and bovine.

Rosemere Farm produced Marion County’s first Thoroughbred racehorse winner, Gornil at Tropical Park, in 1943.

However, a Thoroughbred named Needles, raced by Bonnie Heath and Jackson Dudley, would go onto share the 1955 2-year-old male award with Nail, but Needles sophomore campaign made the world take notice. Needles captured the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Stakes and, in doing so, was named 3-year-old champion of 1956. Needles, who was bred and raised in Ocala, put the area’s Thoroughbred industry convincingly on the map.

The area has established itself as one of the world’s premier horse communities, featuring every equestrian sport discipline, and has the infrastructure in place to accommodate the vast number of horses, horse farms, training centers, competition venues and horsemen.

The equine industry’s economic impact resonates powerfully statewide. The Thoroughbred industry has a $2.7 billion total impact with a $1.5 billion value added total effect, according to a study commissioned with major support from the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association and the American Horse Council Foundation. There is strength in numbers with the state boasting more than 99,000 Thoroughbreds.

“Marion County and the City of Ocala are called “The Horse Capital of the World” for a very good reason,” said Lonny Powell, FTBOA chief executive officer. “Florida is one of the top horse population centers in not just North America, but the world. That being said, most of the horse breeding, conditioning, farming and much of the show and contest competition takes place in Marion County where all residents, businesses, and visitors benefit from the green space, culture, character, jobs and economic impact that comes with being such an enthusiastic equine-centric community.”

The equine industry and equestrian sport continue to serve as the impetus in attracting the best in international competition and horsemen from around the globe to the Brick City. Amenities and events like the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, Horse Shows In the Sun, Live Oak Invitational, Florida Horse Park, Ocala Jockey Club Invitational 3-Day Event and Larry Roberts’ World Equestrian Center, which is expected to open in 2021, will continue to make Ocala/Marion County the world’s premier equine destination.

“The area’s long established signature Thoroughbred industry, along with a flourishing show and contest as well as pleasure horse scene, continue to be driving economic and quality of life drivers for our city, county and state,” said Powell.

Finding The Baseline

Words and Photos by Joshua Jacobs

Tell me about how you started?  

Andrew: It started out as an alias for me to play acoustic shows under. I didn’t want my full name on the bill so I went under “Baseline” or Andrew from Baseline. I had hopes of having a full band one day, but until then, I just liked the name and ran with it.  There was some talks of friends who wanted to play in the band but it wasn’t until the month of my 23rd birthday that I found a good friend I’d known for a while who was also looking for a band to play in.  I asked Jason Feagin if he wanted to play a Blink 182 cover set for my 23rd birthday, and after our first practice, it just felt like the right fit.  I remember him bringing over a couple IPAs for us to have during our practice and saying, “I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”  And it definitely has been over the last five years, being in a band with Jason. After a couple lineup changes, we solidified our group with the final addition of Zach Hess (drummer) joining the band about three years ago. This is the dynamic that is Baseline.

How long have you been involved in the Ocala Music Scene?  

Andrew: We started with playing acoustic sets in 2014. With the addition of new members, we started playing full sets the year after.  The band had a couple of lineup changes but has been continuing to perform as a full band since 2015.

What got you interested in music?

Jason: For me, I was just a kid who wanted a guitar.  After I learned to play, that’s all I wanted to do.

Andrew: When I was 14, I broke my left arm jumping off a trampoline. While I was in a cast, I watched a little movie called “School of Rock,” and it was then I realized I wanted to play guitar. A year later, I went to see Relient K at Rock the Universe for the first time. It was then, in a full moment of clarity, that I knew I wanted to write songs and create my own music.

Zach: Music has always been a passion for me personally, personifying that which cannot be spoken. Music has always been the soundtrack to my life and that intrigued me so much that I wanted to create music that could speak to people like it does to me.

What or Who are some of your biggest  Musical influences?

Andrew: When I first started writing songs, Relient K,  MxPx, and Anberlin were big staples in my life, so a lot of our earlier songs sound like the work of Matt Thiessen. Things definitely changed when I found out about The Cure. Robert Smith has a big influence in my life that I am so grateful for. Lately it’s a lot of stuff.  The more I discover, the more I find things I love and want to put to use in our music.  I’d say Fugazi and Ceremony have been pretty influential to the band as whole.

Zach: The faster, the heavier, the better! Metal music was what definitely sparked my fire to play music. As I grew, I learned to love all forms of music and fell deeply in love with jazz and Latin grooves and have been broadening my musical horizons ever since.

Jason: I grew up on punk rock and metal. Lately I’ve been most influenced by bands such as PUP and The Menzingers.

Baseline is a great name! How did you come up with it?

Andrew: Back in 2013, after many of humorous and joking attempts at band names, one of the underdog names actually stuck. After hitting golf balls on the “Baseline” driving range and passing the local “Baseline” discount beverage store, a friend blurted out “You should name your band ‘Baseline,’” purely as a joke. Little did we know it would stick.

How long have you been performing as a band?

Andrew: As full band? Five years. We’ve had some lineup changes, one of them being my little brother, Cole, who filled in on drums for a couple years before Zach joined. It’s been two full years of Jason, Zach, and myself as Baseline.

Take us through the songwriting process when in comes to the band. Is it just one or all of you contributing to the lyrics?

Andrew: It might change in the future, which I hope it does, but usually I come to the band with a rough idea of a song or a mostly complete piece, with lyrics and all. From that, we all toy around with the progression of the song musically, both Zach and Jason adding their own touch to it, making it a true collective piece.

Being in the music scene here in Ocala, what would you like to see in the future that could improve the state of the scene?

Andrew: I think a lot of times, I hear folks and bands complain about people not caring enough about the music scene. Not coming out to support more or just coming out to see the bigger bands. And that may be true, but I don’t think people are impressed enough with what the scene has to offer.  There’s not enough bands taking bigger risks with their art or trying something different, too much of the same old, same old sound. If we took chances, then maybe we could start a chain reaction of creating something new and exciting. Something people can’t get enough of. And also, having a solid venue to play at would be nice too.

What has been the most memorable moment you’ve experienced while performing? 

Andrew: For us, playing a house show block party and having the fire dancers walk through us during the middle of our set, while the homeowner hijacked the mic and was screaming the lyrics to Green Day’s “Brainstew.”

What does the future of Baseline look like? Any shows or more EPs coming soon?

Andrew: We have a pretty big show on January 19th. We’re the local support for the 15th anniversary tour of Hawthorne Heights’ “Silence in Black and White” as well as one of our favorite albums “The Weeks End” by Emery who is also on tour with Hawthorne. Like I said, it’s going to be huge, at least for us.

As far as new music goes, we have a five song album already written and ready to go. Hoping to get back to the studio and knock them out, so we can release it before spring of next year.  The future feels pretty bright for us. Just wanting to write and release more music, each album being better than the last one. All the while wanting what we do to make some difference in the local scene or our music making a difference in someone’s life. If not, at least we have fun doing what we do: drinking beer, playing rock and roll, and hanging out with our friends.

To listen to their latest EP “Discount Beverage,” visit and be sure to follow them on all social media platforms at @baselineocala.

Unparalleled Excellence

By Ben Baugh

The family-owned and operated business, opened its doors in 2017 and became a full restaurant in 2018, transforming into a place where the emphasis is on excellence. The smiling faces of Dr. Wine, Mama Sokol, Katya and Chef Tony, who were recently married, offer a warm and welcoming presence.

Katya’s Vineyards is conveniently located in downtown Ocala, on the square, allowing its patrons to experience the finer things the city has to offer, adding to the restaurant’s allure and appeal. However, its Katya’s incredibly deep volume of select wines providing patrons with a variety of options to choose from.

The dining establishment takes its name from the owner’s daughter, Katya, whose smile is as radiant as the ambiance that can be found while enjoying a glass of wine, and the food is as pure as the meaning of the restaurant’s name, offering only the best in cuisine.

Variety is the spice of life, and that couldn’t be any more apparent at Katya’s Vineyards, a place where the menu changes on a weekly basis, allowing the customer to sample the best that the world has to offer.

However, the locally made wines give the restaurant a unique character, one that resonates with the patron, awakening all of their senses, with a deep variety of hybrid grapes and a wine list featuring more than 100 plus wines that would leave even the most experienced oenophile with a favorable impression, and have them coming back for more.

But it’s not just the wine that has people talking; it’s the dining and ambiance that sets Katya apart from the competition. Diners will delight in the high end, fresh and specialty ingredients. It’s that global presence and its distinctive flavor that make Katya an absolute must, Japanese KOBE wagyu, beluga caviar, truffles and saffron work their magic in tantalizing your taste buds.

Casual dress is acceptable in the lounge area, and business casual to formal dress are required for dining and wine tasting in the library and cellar.

For those wanting to experience the best Ocala has to offer, reservations are highly recommended.

And the atmosphere is nonpareil, with savory cuisine, wine aged to perfection, and on certain nights, Katya’s Vineyards comes alive with the sounds of soft jazz, see Facebook for the entertainment schedule.

Katya’s Vineyards offers classic dining, a commitment to excellence and a cuisine that’s a culinary dream.

Make your dining experience a memorable one, by sampling the globe’s finest wines and the best grapes local vineyards have to offer. You only live once, and you can’t deny yourself the opportunity to enjoy the most sumptuous, savory and delectable cuisine, in an atmosphere’s whose embrace is as warm as the smile on the faces that will greet you, when you make your way into a world that places an emphasis on the patron and understands the meaning of the word excellence.

Katya’s is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is available for private events. Katya’s Vineyards is located at 101 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ste. 102, Ocala, FL 34470.

Commit to the Change

By Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin

Whatever habits you are trying to improve, here’s to achieving your goals for the New Year and New Decade!

My dieting and working out for the new decade are hopefully gong to continue with the healthy changes I made about seven years ago. Here is my story: For more than twenty-five years I lost and found the same twenty pounds several times! It seems like I was either dieting, or I wasn’t. And I tried them all, from Atkins to Weight Watchers, and they all worked…until they didn’t.

Food journals were meticulously kept along with tracking my exercise, water intake, the mood I was in while eating, and where I ate. I watched my four older sisters struggle the same way with their relationship with food, and I learned from an early age that being thin was “in”.  So what has changed?  I found myself approaching 50, still struggling with my weight, my energy level was non-existent and I was basically a pretty unhealthy woman.  I had come to a crossroads in my life and some decisions had to be made. Doctors confirmed that my numbers were all off the charts, and I felt terrible. In my usual “that’s the way I roll” reaction, I dove head first into a full-blown vegan lifestyle. Going organic, juicing and a morning green smoothie became the norm. Kris Carr and Kimberly Snyder became my gurus. Processed food, animal protein, and dairy became verboten.  A walking/running routine was incorporated and alcohol entirely eliminated. Maintaining this way of eating was fairly easy for about two years. Then boredom set in, and the planning and preparation it took to maintain this lifestyle started to become stressful. The exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve.

Working out on a regular basis also had me craving protein. I know there are some amazing vegan athletes out there that would beg to differ. But I’m a firm believer in listening to what your own body is telling you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to health and fitness. So, I have incorporated some parmesan, goat, and sheep’s milk cheeses back in to the program, as well as wild caught fish and organic chicken. Fresh organic fruit and vegetables (especially avocados!) are a joy for me, and a small amount of organic dairy feels right. I’ve always fought against my sweet tooth and felt guilty if I indulged it. Limiting processed sugar and trying to make healthier choices when the urge strikes, like dark chocolate, dates, or fresh fruit has helped alleviate the angst I feel. Making peace with the emotional struggle of my choices is part of the process. It’s about—and here comes the current trendy buzz-words—self-care. Eating from the earth, eschewing processed junk food that is laden with unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt from my diet is the plan now.

The goal is to keep the body in an alkaline state and avoid inflammatory foods about 80% of the time. It’s not a game of perfect. When indulging, I try to enjoy it fully then let it go and move on.  Finding a healthy food balance, and freedom from guilt, has been a rewarding experience, both emotionally and physically. Prayer, meditation, and tons of reading and research are helping guide the journey. Here’s to the new decade and to hoping you have found, or will find, your food balance too.

Brick City Spa

When I started working on this New Year/New Decade article and what experienced local health experts to include, Rachel Wilkerson immediately popped into mind. She positively radiates health! A professional aesthetician and owner of the popular Brick City Spa in Ocala, Rachel is a trusted source for skin care. On a personal note, if you haven’t experienced one of her facial treatments, stop reading this right now and book one! Here she shares her skin care plan for the New Year:

“Glow in the new decade with just a few new skin practices. Our skin is forever changing, so integrating new products or changing your routine is a great way to kick off the new year! Add a vitamin C brightening serum in the morning, a rejuvenating treatment cream at night, or a completely new regimen altogether if you haven’t done so in a while! I change things up every few months. Daily practices should always include a proper cleansing every morning and especially every night before your body enters its “repair phase” while you sleep. Find a daily moisturizing SPF you love, this is the key to protecting your skin and aging gracefully—guys this applies to you too! A visit to your esthetician will help guide you in picking the right products for your skin type. Receive a facial monthly, as we continue through the decades our skin cycle naturally slows down. Just like going to the gym, we want to give our skin and facial muscles a workout every 3–4 weeks. Right now, I suggest brightening facials, like my “CyroAlgae Glow Facial,” featuring a three step process including dermaplaning, a licorice and bearberry brightening peel and a CryoAlgae firming mask (my clients favorite—it’s very cooling and restorative). Cheers to the New Year and healthy skin practices in the decade to come!”


Faithfully Guided

Their company taglines are “Connecting Spirit, Mind, and Body” and “Leading the Way in Lifestyle Health,” so it was the perfect place to start for some positive lifestyle changes in the New Year. Sitting down with these two accomplished and confident women was a treat, and their enthusiasm was contagious! I presented them with the following scenario and pearls of wisdom started to flow. Imagine you are a stressed out mom, wife and full-time employee with a house to run, meals to plan, errands to run, taxi service for kids activities, you get the drift. Things like working out, taking time to worship and personal time are on the back burner. Can you relate? As I spoke, both Ashlee and Jamie were nodding with knowing smiles and compassionate eyes.  So where to begin?  Jamie’s first response was a practical approach;  “Embrace where you are, stop mentally beating yourself, and ease up on the pressure. Recognize that we all struggle and you are not alone!”  She adds that baby steps can add up fast. “Start with trying to develop a culture of health mindset.”

Ashlee adds, “Simple pivots can change the trajectory of your life. That may sound overwhelming, but some simple suggestions for example is to try to commit to giving up sodas for a month or take a break from fast food. Move your body for 20 minutes a day, whether it is walking, swimming, or yoga. Chose something that you truly enjoy and you’re much more likely to stick with it.”

Both ladies agree that like any fellowship, connecting with like-minded people can help immensely in achieving your goals, staying motivated, and holding each other accountable. As for reconnecting with your faith, they offer this: “God loves you right now, as you are, and is your biggest cheerleader, always in your corner and guiding you to live your best life. Acknowledging that faith, and cultivating that mindset, will help propel you along!”

Faithfully Guided is a one-stop shop that can help in so many aspects of life in which you are trying to make improvements. Check out the Faithfully guided website for all of their services: Faith-Based Counseling, Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine, Restorative Therapeutic Services, and Fitness and Nutrition.


William H. Shepard

Are your finances in need of some TLC in this New Year/New Decade? Do your eyes glaze over and your heart starts to race when you think about money? Fear not! Thank goodness expert financial planners are plentiful, and today we get some sage advise from one of the best in the business. Whether it is for yourself or you are looking to start some basic financial planning for your children, here are some simple tips and guidelines.

Are you thinking about purchasing a home in the future, starting your own business, or perhaps just retiring comfortably? A comprehensive plan can be the framework you need to achieve your goals. With a plan in place, you will be better able to understand what it takes to reach them. Mr. Shepard (Bill) suggests beginning with a simple plan:

• Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation

• Establish and prioritize your goals and the time frame to achieve them

• Implement strategies that address your strengths and weaknesses

• Choose products and services tailored to meet your objectives

• Monitor your plan, making adjustments as needed

See, that wasn’t so hard!  Bill goes on to say, “Working with a professional can give you objective information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you valuable time and ensuring all your angles are covered.”  Life-changing events happen to all of us: the birth of a child, job loss or changes, and health problems. Make sure you review your plan to modify accordingly.   Here are some tips to teaching your children how to handle money wisely:

• Give your child an allowance with parameters: what it should be used for and how much should be saved.

• Make allowance day a routine, like payday.  Give the same amount on the same day each week.

• Consider “raises” for those who manage money well

Bill goes on to say  “piggy banks” (savings accounts) teach children about real banking concepts such as interest and the power of compounding.  As children become older, teach them about responsible shopping and spending habits, saving for larger purchases.

Unbridled Passion…Plein and Simple

By Ben Baugh | Photos by Sharon Crute

An artist whose work evokes a passion and spirit that’s palpable and still resonates throughout the community, even though she’s been gone from Ocala for nearly a decade.

Sharon Crute’s artwork is timeless and can still be found throughout Marion County. It’s her life and professional experience at the operational level that creates a dynamic, one that captures the spirit and vitality of the sport of Thoroughbred racing, helping one experience what they might feel if they were involved with the process.

Two of her pieces, the painted fiberglass horses from the Horse Fever project, can be found in Marion County. Champ stands proudly in front of the headquarters of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and World Champ resides on the city’s square.

This past year has found Crute expanding her horizons, undergoing a comprehensive educational course. The course revealed a different side of the art world, one that very few artists have the privilege to undertake, and gave Crute access to a series of resources that will benefit her markedly. The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists has provided Crute with greater insight.

“He was an extremely well-known American painter, a realistic painter,” said Crute. “He enjoyed a lot of financial success, and his daughter Elizabeth set up the fellowship to try to teach artists the business aspect, because her father had done so well financially and was such a sharp and respected businessman. She wants to help artists experience the same kind of thing.”

Crute applied for the fellowship on a whim and propitiously was one of 16 artists selected from a pool of 113 applicants.

“When I first heard the news, I went, ‘Oh, fantastic! I got the fellowship.’ And then I went, ‘Oh no, I got the fellowship.’”

The fellowship has been an intense learning process, one that has been extremely demanding, said Crute.

“They don’t want any artists whining or any of that stuff,” said Crute. “They call us out on a lot of things. But they’ve taught us so much. Right now, I’m trying to figure out everything without being overwhelmed.”

The artist has learned about career blueprinting, marketing and sales strategy, creating a brand, finances, and technology, but the cornerstone is that as a fellow, Crute must create a pivotal project, something that will serve as a mechanism to help accelerate her career.

“It will propel you, so people will see what you’re doing and that you’re doing something fantastic that’s really different,” said Crute. “My pivotal project is going to be a multimedia interactive installation. It’s big. It’s ambitious. I’m going to need some sponsorship, some funding. I haven’t embarked on that because I’ve been working on commissions for Christmas. I’m anxious to get going, but I have to keep the money flowing in.”

The idea for the pivotal project has been more than a decade in the making. The concept first came to Crute in 2007, while she was still in Ocala.

“I went to the then director of the Appleton Museum, John Lofgren, and I showed him my concept sketch of what I had, and I said, ‘John, I need 73 feet.’ He looked at it, and kind of pondered it for a moment. He said, ‘Okay, I can give you 73 feet.’ Back then, they would have a contemporary art exhibit every year, and it was very compelling. It was beautiful, modern and very different from painting and sculpture. A lot of it was installations.”

However, the timing didn’t seem to be right for the project as the recession hit, and Lofgren took a position with another museum.

“I had to get real busy monetizing my career because things were tough in Ocala, and I stuck it out as long as I could,” said Crute. “It was time to make a change because I wanted to do other things. I had been wooing NYRA [the New York Racing Association] for years about trying to get in as an artist vendor, and I had this woman, Kimberly Justice, who was the head of marketing at the time. She took notice of me, became a champion for me, and I got in. I think 2010 was my first year there. At that point, it just made sense to move up to Saratoga.”

The pivotal project is both a visual and sensory experience, said Crute. The installation will be composed of 16 paintings demonstrating the progression of a horse during an intense workout, starting with a small canvas, 2 feet by 3 feet, progressing to a big canvas in the middle, 8 feet by 6 feet, as if the viewer was standing on the turn and the horse is right in front of the observer, and then the canvases would decrease in size, giving it the appearance that the horse is going away from the viewer. The project  will provide the casual racing fan and curious onlooker the opportunity to get a unique perspective about the sport of Thoroughbred racing they normally wouldn’t be able to access. Crute hopes that the artwork will encourage a dialog and create a deeper understanding about the sport.

“I’m very excited about this pivotal project, but now what I’ve done is added a lot more components to it,” said Crute. “Now I want to do the same thing, but I’m adding audio, lights, and a platform, where the viewer is going to have the opportunity to stand, and you’ll feel the vibration underneath.

“It’s a huge departure from painting, and I’ve been a painter forever. This is something really great because I’m going to still be able to combine fine art with stepping out toward this technology and embracing it. It’s funny, when you start showing this to people, I have approached some people about it, they come up with some really great ideas and some suggestions, so it starts the ball rolling for you…it’s pretty exciting to me. It’s really different.”

Crute’s deep knowledge of the sport and her passion for Thoroughbred racing is perceptible. Her artwork has captured the nation’s imagination, and it’s her understanding of the equine form and its action that makes her paintings come out of the canvas, creating an experience that resonates deeply with every observer of her work.

“I’ve always been an equine artist, which is so genre specific, but I know that my heart is in horse racing,” said Crute. “And coming to that realization has really honed my focus. Being married to a horse trainer and seeing what he goes through and what his peers go through.”

However, one component of the pivotal project Crute would like to emphasize is that she’s a horsewoman, that she’s worked in the business, rubbed and galloped horses, was a racing official in California, and has a deep understanding of the equine athlete and the industry.

For the past nine years, Crute has been a full-time vendor at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, a prestigious place for an artist to showcase their work. There’s a 10 year wait for artists to get in, said Crute. However, as she continues to evolve as an artist, a different series of challenges may be on the way. 

“The dynamics have changed a lot at the track,” said Crute. “I’m not sure where I am in my career, if I want to continue doing that because it’s very demanding. The meet has increased from six weeks to seven. So, it’s almost the entire summer. And I’m wondering at this point, with what I’ve been through with the fellowship, if it’s necessary for me to do this.”

However, Crute has a deep connection with Saratoga Race Course, the main track and the Oklahoma Training Track, and will continue to be a fixture, should she decide to make some adjustments with her career going forward.

“I love to plein air paint in the morning in the barn area,” said Crute. “I would transition from being a full-time vendor in a booth to getting out there at 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. every morning, setting up and painting, and that’s very productive and people like to see the process. They don’t get to see the artists at work. I’m very comfortable talking to them as I’m painting. And that’s something I’m considering. I’m not saying I won’t do the vendorship again, but I’m very open-minded about it and will take advantage of any opportunities that come my way.”

Join the Club

Ben Baugh

It’s something whose gravitas has touched the lives of every family. Mental health issues are far more commonplace than people think. One of every five adults is afflicted with a disorder, many which aren’t talked about.  However, there are organizations people can turn to if they’re feeling overwhelmed. One of those resources can be found in Ocala, the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI Marion County, Inc. “Our local organization has been around since the mid-’80s,” said Diana Williams, NAMI past president and board member. “We’ve continually provided support group meetings, for those caregivers and peers (those living with the mental illness), programs that NAMI developed.  We also provide classes that we have as a series for the caregivers, and they learn how to manage their loved one in a respectful way. We have classes for peers as well.”

NAMI Marion County has also helped local law enforcement with their crisis intervention training, providing officers a different approach when they find themselves in an environment where they have encountered an individual with a severe mental illness, so they have knowledge to help de-escalate the situation. “The organization also works with partners throughout the community, and they work diligently to connect services,” said Williams. “There are several programs that have made a significant impact, services that have helped transform people’s lives,” said Williams.

“One of the programs that we were instrumental in starting along with our partners was the mental health court diversion program, and they’ve since started a veterans’ court diversion program as well.  This is designed to eliminate the revolving door, connecting the participants with the services they need, so they aren’t inclined to keep getting arrested and going back to jail,” said Williams. “The program has been extremely successful. Judge (James) McCune was a driving force in getting that program started years ago. We’re extremely proud.”

NAMI’s programs in the community have been impactful in helping many families within the area. Thankfully those same families, whose family members have been helped by the organization’s services, are giving back by volunteering, sharing their experiences with others who are going through similar circumstances, providing access to a wealth of information. “Often individuals get diagnosed in their teens and early 20s,” said Williams. “When there’s a crisis, you really don’t know where to turn. So, this organization has members that have lived the experience. They’re a great resource for people going through a crisis, and asking, ‘what do I do now? This wasn’t supposed to happen in my family.’ That lived experience is a knowledge base that’s extremely useful to help others.”

“The organization continues to expand its presence and recently became involved with The Ora Clubhouse. The facility is located on NE 14th Street, and is a work recovery program,” said Williams. Clubhouse International is a nationwide mental health innovation network and we will implement their model. “We’re fortunate to start one in Marion County,” said Williams. “It’s a program that’s designed to assist people living with a severe mental illness to get to the point where they’re comfortable sustaining employment. The program is individually paced for members and includes a very welcoming environment.  It’s based on critical values like respect, wellness, acceptance, kindness and purpose, and provides a safe place for them to gain work experience and grow.” Mental health is a major concern that’s plaguing our nation. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents, according to NAMI.

Suicide has also become more prevalent among college students, and although universities are doing a better job, communication needs to improve between the university and those matriculated in the learning institution. And with students being away from home, “parents often aren’t aware of the situations and circumstances they’re experiencing,” said Williams.

“They don’t know who to talk to, don’t know where to turn to for help,” said Williams. “It’s something that we’re all becoming aware of, particularly because a lot of veterans are coming back from service and are experiencing PTSD, and they need help.  NAMI encourages peers to be medicine compliant, visit their psychiatrist regularly, get counseling, and hopefully stay on the right path to recovery.”

NAMI has 28 affiliates in Florida. The national organization plays a large role in helping to shape public policy for those coping with the challenges of mental illness.

“There’s a NAMI state organization; NAMI Florida,” said Williams. “We have conferences, our state annual conference was in Orlando this year.  It was extremely well-attended. We’ve really been advocating to eliminate the stigma that is often associated with mental illness.” People often talk about their physical maladies, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, respiratory issues, “but still have difficulty in addressing problems associated with mental illness,” said Williams. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the United States.

“People may commit suicide because they don’t know who to talk to, and people don’t know what to say,” said Williams. “There are various programs around such as Mental Health First Aid, it’s not a NAMI initiated program but it’s a practical application of what you can do or say if someone mentions to you, they are contemplating suicide.” However, there are an increasing number of resources available to help people who are considering taking their own life and preclude them from committing suicide.

“People are finally becoming more comfortable to talk about it, and learn better how to react,” said Williams. “It’s coming to the forefront that this is such a common problem in the United States that needs to be addressed.”

“Finding funding mechanisms for health issues, particularly when it pertains to mental health is challenging,” said Williams.

“It’s very difficult to access a doctor and get an appointment quickly, if you’re experiencing a crisis,” said Williams. “Often times, you’re scheduled months out. This is really a mental health crisis that needs to be addressed.”

Mental health symptoms can manifest themselves in the form of substance abuse, and those with illnesses often find themselves trying to self-medicate to alleviate their problems, said Williams.

“People are drinking alcohol and taking drugs because it makes them feel better one way or another, so that makes it an even bigger problem,” said Williams. “That needs to be addressed as well, the co-occurring substance abuse.” Mental health disorders can be rather complex, and doctors have to be able to determine what is the best way to treat a person,  what medicine they should prescribe as well as ascertaining and evaluating the most suitable approach in assisting them as they work toward improving their quality of life.

“Often times, when they’re at their worst, is when they’re experiencing their biggest crisis,” said Williams. “Family has literally given up because they’ve gone through so much that they just don’t know where to turn. We need to be diagnosing illness early; like so many health issues early detection is critical, and that way they can be on the road to recovery without having the heartache of a crisis.” However, the stigma remains, and being diagnosed with a mental illness at a young age, can bring with it a series of complications that are often life-altering.

“Many parents try to avoid having their child being labeled,” said Williams. “They need to be proactive and be aware of circumstances that should be addressed.” Parents are the advocate for the child. The earlier we start asking questions, the better.

NAMI will continue to provide their programs in the community and welcomes volunteers. The contact information may be found at

We are the World

By Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin

How Ocala’s culturally diverse community is celebrating this holiday season

Ocala truly represents every typical small town in America. A melting pot of cultures and traditions that create this gorgeous soup we call the United States. Diverse religious beliefs, customs and rituals, melded together with the American way of life, make us the beautiful community that we are. We gathered together some Ocala residents that made their way here, that hail from faraway places, to share how their families celebrate the holidays, keeping their traditions from their homelands close to their hearts. Almost everyone said that they typically attend a Christmas Eve midnight church service, but one tradition that we all have in common is the food-centric nature of the holiday season, with ample drink (sweet treats being everyone’s most favorite).


Dominick Ragosta comes from Naples and his wife, Lena, from Sicily, but they actually met as teenagers in New York at a relative’s wedding. She, a bridesmaid and he, the best man. Lena’s father was strict, so their courtship was done under strict supervision! They eventually married and had three children, Dennis, Anna and Nancy. Holidays in the Ragosta household are a family affair featuring lots of (you guessed it) pasta!

Christmas Eve features the Italian tradition of La Vigilia (The Vigil) with a meal typically consisting of seven types of seafood dishes a.k.a “The Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Lena is famous for her blue-crab sauce, which is ladled over pasta. On Christmas day, gifts are exchanged as a big pot of red sauce simmers on the stove. The sauce (or gravy) is served over pasta and eaten family style. Italian cookies, ricotta cheesecake and pastiera (wheat pie) typically follow the meal.


Elodie and Patrice Perron are well known in the community for their incredibly French and incredibly popular downtown restaurant “La Cuisine.” Christmas in France is a gastronomical feast of elegant meals, fine champagne, and delectable desserts. The festivities begin on Christmas Eve with a family gathering, which typically begins at 8pm. Dressed in their finest, they begin with an aperitif (Champagne…lots of Champagne) and amuse-bouche (a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres to us).

Dinner is a sit-down affair with a variety of classic French appetizers: oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, all served with the appropriate accompaniments and rustic country breads. Dinner features meat such as game or venison in a Burgundy sauce with potatoes. Now is when the amazing cheese course and salad come in. La grande finale is a traditional Buche de Noel followed by midnight church services. Gifts are exchanged on Christmas morning and once again cooking begins for the evening meal. This meal features much of the same food, but perhaps the entrée will be a fish dish with rice and petits fours. Oh yes, and encore du champagne!


Coming soon to our bustling downtown is a new Jamaican restaurant called “Irie Eats.” I met up with owners and chefs Henri Williams, Pete McNeish, Gary Grey and Sophia Rowe while they were visiting their fellow restaurateur and expat Albert Barrett of Stella’s Modern Pantry. Their description of the holiday festivities on the island can be summed up in one wor—party! An all-night street party begins on Christmas Eve on famed Grand Market Street.

Local shop owners stay open; everyone wears their finest clothing and heads outdoors to eat street food, drink, and dance to live music everywhere. Christmas morning is for gift exchanges, resting and then cooking and enjoying family dinner. The dinner features many of their indigenous dishes: jerk chicken, rice and peas, oxtail and curried goat. Most importantly, the dinner ends with the very rich and alcohol-laden rum cake that the island is famous for. The party continues the day after Christmas when Jamaicans celebrate Boxing Day.


Chef Dmitri Pomakis comes from Thessaloniki, Greece, which is renowned for its rich cultural life, festivals, and events. Christmas in the Pomakis household is very similar to our own. A decorated Christmas tree, gifts, and midnight church services. Christmas day is centered on the meal: roast lamb and potatoes, spirits such as Retsina wine, Ouzo and Tsipouro. Desserts traditionally eaten are melomakarona (honey cookies), baklava and kataïfi (both of these are rich, delectable sweets made from phyllo dough).

Traditional on New Year’s Day is St. Basil’s Cake in which a coin is hidden in the cake to bring good luck to the recipients. It is also customary to smash pomegranates on the first day of the year. It is Greek folklore that pomegranates symbolize strength, eternity, and good fortune. Dmitri and his family do in fact practice the custom of breaking plates, which is an expression of joy. This calls for a loud OPA!

Puerto Rico

Martha and Miguel “Dr. Q” Quintana have busy lives, owning and operating Alpha Rehabilitation in Ocala and raising their two young boys Miguel, 14, and Malachi, 12. Their Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve, with a traditional Noche Buena and culminate with Three Kings Day or Epiphany in January. Noche Buena’s meal consists of arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas), lechon (roast pork) and of course the delicious and decadent flan. The Quintana’s have a deep-seated faith. Martha sums up one of their traditions: “When I think about a tradition in our family, the first thing that comes to mind is La Bendicion. La Bendicion is a major part of the Latino culture. Passed down from generations, it plays an important role among Latino families because it is how we greet and say goodbye to the matriarchs and patriarchs in our families. It is a way to show reverence for our older family members. La Bendicion is asked of a mother, father, aunt, uncle and grandparents. It is a blessing that grants you a good day, a positive outcome, and a word of protection. In English, la bendicion is translated to “the blessing.”


Sandra King came to the United States with her two children in 1993 (pictured here with her son Daniel) to join her late husband, who was an American veteran. They chose to live in Florida because the tropical climate resembled her homeland, the Philippines. Sandra is a devout Catholic, actively involved in two local churches. She serves as an acolyte (minister of Holy Communion) at both Blessed Trinity in Ocala and St. Theresa in Belleview. Every year from the 16th to the 24th of December, Sandra practices Simbang Gabi, which is a nine-day series of masses, typically held at dawn, that is a novena to the Blessed Mother.

Active in the Filipino American community in Ocala, Sandra is an amazing cook and takes great pride in sharing her native dishes with her family and friends. Here she shares two of the dishes commonly served at celebrations; lumpia: a Filipino eggroll, and pancit, a noodle dish that represents long life and good health.

Better Than The Best 2019

Every year keeps getting BETTER.

Ocala Magazine recognizes our community’s best businesses and service organizations, voted by our readers, with all new categories among time-tested favorites. The people have voted. Here are YOUR 2019 Better than the Best finalists!


Best Aesthetician

First place: Beyond Skin

Second place: OFMC Dermatology and Aesthetics Institute

Third place: Nirvana Medical Spa

Best Barber Shop

First place: Big Al’s

Second place: Roland’s Barbershop

Third place: Parker Barbershop

Best Hair Salon

First place: Face The Day
Salon & Spa

Second place: Hello Gorgeous

Third place: Envé @ Salon 209

Best Nail Professional

First place: Azulene Day Spa

Second place: Face The Day Salon and Spa

Third place: Happy Nails Spa
and Salon

Best Place to Get Pampered

First place: Face The Day
Salon & Spa

Second place: Azulene Day Spa

Third place: Breeze Day Spa @ Agapanthus


Amusement + Recreation

Best Annual Event

First place: Light Up Ocala

Second place: Symphony Gala (Reilly Art Center / Ocala Symphony Orchestra)

Third place: Appleton Gala

Best Band

First place: Left On Broadway

Second place: Humans in Disguise

Third place: Shine and the Shakers

Best Caves

First place: Ocala Caverns

Second place: Scott Springs

Third place: Hitchhiker’s Cave

Best Cultural Activity

First place: Symphony
Under The Stars

Second place: Fine Arts for Ocala

Third place: Appleton Museum Family Day

Best Equestrian Event

First place: H.I.T.S. — Horse Shows in the Sun

Second place: Live Oak International

Third place: Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association Horse of the Year Gala

Best Gallery

First place: MCA — Brick City Center for the Arts

Second place: Studio B

Third place: CF Webber Center Gallery

Best Golf Course

First place: Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club

Second place: Ocala Golf Club

Third place: Ocala Country Club

Best Members-Only Club

First place: Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club

Second place: Country Club of Ocala

Best Place for Live Music

First place: Pi on Broadway

Second place: Bank Street Patio
Bar & Grill

Third place: O’Malley’s Alley

Best Place to See a Show

First place: Reilly Arts Center

Second place: Ocala Civic Theatre

Third place: Marion Theatre

Best Place to Swim

First place: Rainbow Springs

Second place: KP Hole

Third place: Jervy Gant

Best Radio Personality

First place: Lewis Stokes (K Country)

Second place: Jen Ryan (Q.92)

Third place: Larry & Robin (WOCA)

Best Solo/Duet Act

First place: Jeff Jarrett

Second place: Miranda Madison

Third place: Caly & Megan Music

Best Visual Artist

First place: Teddy Sykes

Second place: Leslie Peoples

Third place: Mark Emery

Automobile Dealer + Services

Best Auto Dealership

First place: DeLuca Toyota

Second place: Jenkins Auto

Third place: Ford of Ocala

Best Automotive Repair

First place: Don’s Garage

Second place: Firestone Complete Auto Care

Third place: Pep Boys

Best Car Wash

First place: Soapy’s Car Wash

Second place: Caliber Car Wash

Third place: Danny’s Car Wash

Food + Drink

Best Bartender

First place: Ben Payne (Pi)

Second place: Adam Volpe (Infinite Brewery)

Third place: Lauren Marcucci (The Keep)

Best BBQ

First place: Big Lee’s BBQ

Second place: Brick City Southern Kitchen and Whiskey Bar

Third place: Sonny’s

Best Caterer

First place: The Mojo Grill & Catering

Second place: 3’s Catering (Latinos y Mas, Ipanema, Craft Cuisine)

Third place: Brick City Catering

Best Chef

First place: Patrice Perron
(La Cuisine)

Second place: Tony Deras
(Katya Vinyards)

Third place: Rick Alabaugh
(Golden Ocala)

Best Family-Friendly Restaurant

First place: Mojo’s Grill and Catering

Second place: Brooklyn’s Backyard

Third place: Sonny’s BBQ

Best Food Truck

First place: Big Lee’s BBQ

Second place: Curbside Cuisine

Third place: Farmer In The Deli

Best Pizza

First place: Blue Highway

Second place: Pi on Broadway

Third place: Brooklyn’s Backyard

Best Place for a
Romantic Dinner

First place: La Cuisine

Second place: Ipanema

Third place: Katya Vineyards

Best Place for Breakfast

First place: Scrambles

Second place: First Watch

Third place: Darryl’s Diner

Best Place for Dessert

First place: Betty Cakes

Second place: Ocala’s Chocolates & Confections

Third place: Twistee Treat

Best Place for Tacos/Burritos

First place: Latinos y Mas

Second place: Las Margaritas

Third place: La Hacienda

Best Place to Get a
Cup of Coffee

First place: Starbucks

Second place: Symmetry Coffee
& Crepes

Third place: Chelsea Coffee Co.

Best Place to Order a Cake

First place: Betty Cakes

Second place: Sugar Rush

Third place: Stella’s Modern Pantry

Best Southern Food

First place: Ivy on the Square

Second place: Brick City Southern Kitchen and Whiskey Bar

Third place: Cracker Barrel

Health + Fitness

Best Alternative Wellness

First place: Faithfully Guided Health Center Integrated Medicine

Second place: Absolute Health Ocala

Third place: Erica Olstein Better U Acupuncture

Best Chiropractor

First place: Fakhoury Medical and Chiropractic Center

Second place: Pitts Family Chiropractic

Third place: Downtown Chiropractic and Wellness

Best Dentist

First place: Ocala Family Dentistry

Second place: Chandra Smile Designs

Third place: Dr. Quinn Family Dentistry

Best Gym

First place: The Zone Health
and Fitness

Second place: Planet Fitness

Third place: YMCA

Best Medical Facility

First place: AdventHealth Ocala

Second place: Ocala Family Medical Center

Third place: Ocala Regional Medical Center

Best Personal Trainer

First place: Andre Palmer of Zone Health and Fitness

Second place: Mohamad Aysheh of Zone Health and Fitness

Third place: Amber Toole Sanford of The Training Toole

Best Physical Therapy

First place: Strive Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

Second place: Fakhoury Medical and Chiropractic

Third place: Mid-Florida Physical Therapy

Kids + Education

Best Civic Organization

First place: Rotary Club

Second place: Kiwanis

Third place: Junior League

Best Pediatrics

First place: Ocala Pediatrics

Second place: Children’s Health of Ocala

Third place: Heart of Florida Medical Center

Best Place for Kids Summer Programs

First place: YMCA

Second place: Discovery Center

Third place: Appleton Museum of Art


Best Pet Groomer

First place: Perfect Paws Grooming Salon

Second place: Prefurred Pet Wash and Grooming

Third place: Doggy Bubbles Pet Grooming

Best Vet

First place: Magnolia Animal Hospital

Second place: Maricamp Animal Hospital

Third place: UF Pet Emergency Treatment Services

Real Estate

Best Realtor-Commercial

First place: Van Akin (Foxfire Realty)

Second place: Nolan Galloway III (Gus Galloway Realty)

Third place: Philip Glassman (Birkshire Hathaway)

Best Realtor-Residential

First place: Roberts Real Estate

Second place: Ocala Horse Properties

Third place: Showcase Properties


Best Attorney

First place: Doc Blanchard

Second place: Cannon Law Firm

Third place: Miriam, Adele, and Kirkland

Best Electrician

First place: Mid State Electric

Second place: Ciraco Electric

Third place: Kuhn Electric

Best Event DJ

First place: DJ Joe Ortiz

Second place: DJ Jesse (Hi-Fi DJ Service)

Third place: Just Joel

Best Event Planner

First place: Golden Ocala Wedding & Event Planning

Second place: Party Time Rentals

Third place: Marge Felix Events

Best Financial Planner

First place: Nick Navetta (Edward Jones)

Second place: John Moody (Ocala Capital)

Third place: Greg Ergle (Ergle Financial)

Best Hotel

First place: Ocala Hilton

Second place: Holiday Inn Express & Conference Center

Third place: SpringHill Suites

Best Insurance Agency

First place: Angie Lewis State Farm

Second place: Ocala Insurance Agency

Third place: The Nation Group

Best Lawn Care Professional

First place: A Cut Above Lawn Care

Second place: Marion Precision Lawn & Landscape

Third place: Jason Schmidt Landscaping

Best Place to Network

First place: Ocala Business Leaders

Second place: CEP After Hours

Third place: TEDxOcala

Best Tattoo Shop

First place: Fat Katz

Second place: Crawling Panther

Third place: Cobra Classic

Shopping + Retail

Best Antique Stores

First place: White Elephant

Second place: Two Sisters

Third place: Diggers Antique Mall

Best Boutique

First place: Ivy On The Square

Second place: Marly Mae

Third place: Pink Hanger

Best Jeweler

First place: Gause & Sons Jeweler

Second place: Lady Jeweler

Third place: Silver City

Best Thrift Stores

First place: White Elephant

Second place: The Mustard Seed Collection

Third place: The Monkey Cage


Best Dressed

First place: Beth Cassi

Second place: Olivia Ortiz

Third place: Angie Lewis

Best Assisted Living Facility

First place: Hawthorne Village

Second place: The Bridge at Life Care Center

Third place: Camelot Chateau Assisted Living Facility

Best Retirement Community

First place: On Top of The World

Second place: Del Webb Spruce Creek

Third place: Oak Run

Best Place for a Picnic

First place: Sholom Park

Second place: Greenway Trail

Third place: Tuscawilla Park

Best New Business

First place: Bank Street Patio
Bar & Grill

Second place: Big Hammock Brewery

Third place: Rita’s Italian Ice

Music Scene: No Time To Lay Low

By Joshua Jacobs

Starting a band is no easy task, staying a band is even harder. I interviewed the indie-rock band Carrabelle as they took me through their early beginnings in separate bands to their upcoming album, due out Spring 2020.

So when did your love of music manifest?

Max: I grew up around musicians so that love of music has always been there. I became obsessed with music, though, after the first time I listen to the album “Give Up” by The Postal Service. That album made me want to create music myself.

Jared: My love for music developed when I was teenager. I remember getting introduced to bands like Circa Survive and a bunch of others and remembering, “I wanna learn these songs” and “I wanna make music like that.” Austin and I always played music
together and listened to the same bands so we were always developing musically.

Can you talk about the struggles and successes that come with being an original band?

The struggles for an original band versus a cover band is finding shows to play. The regular
person wants to go out and sing-along to a Third Eye Blind song and not worry about someone explaining to them the thought and insight that went into the new concept album you have just released. But honestly those struggles are so minuscule when compared to the feeling of releasing music that you created out of thin air.

What has been the most memorable performance to date?

We have opened for some awesome touring bands, some that we listened to growing up. But the most memorable shows for us have been ones in friends’ houses and backyards. You
always feel way more loose and present when you’re playing for just your close friends and family.

Can you speak on the state of the music scene in Ocala?

For years it’s been a “hardcore” scene, but it’s nice to see more alternative bands arise and give more diversity. It’s a good feeling to have music that can appeal to a wider audience and then feel the response from it.

Can you walk us through how you started as band?

We actually merged two bands together. SPACECOAST and Actors That Play Us. We all ran around in the same crowds and realized we all had very similar tastes in music. After the first practice of this current lineup of Carrabelle, there was something that just clicked into place.

You have a new album coming out. would you care to talk about what we can expect

Max: Our new album really breaks from our old sound. There is a new mellowness you can feel in these songs but without losing any of the power we love.

Jared: From someone who loves adding texture and color to the music, hence my pedalboard, I really wanted to bring a balanced approach to the new music. Some songs are heavily effect-ridden, yet others are more straight forward.

As songwriters, where do you draw inspiration from?

Max: Personally, I feel inspiration comes from every part of life. There isn’t one thing that just sparks me to write. Like everything in life, there are ups and downs with songwriting. Both the good and the bad can influence what we create.

Jared: Similarly, inspiration can come from anything. But I love hearing something in a song and wanting to replicate it but it comes out different. But that’s ok, that’s part of making it your own.

To listen to their latest single “Lay Low” visit


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