© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2002
Orange you glad the phosphate industry didn't sponsor the Florida State Fair's recent opening day luncheon? Instead, cups of fresh orange juice materialized at the door and an orange brightened every place setting.
The event's sponsor: the Florida Department of Citrus.
During lunch, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson named Barbara Carlton the 2001 woman of the year. "It's the Academy Award of agriculture," Carlton said in her thank-you remarks.
Carlton, a 65-year-old grandmother of four, runs a 17,000-acre cattle and citrus ranch in eastern Sarasota County. She was widowed in 1989 when her husband died in a plane crash.
In an emotional tribute, Lt. Governor Frank Brogan portrayed women as the unsung heroes of Florida farming. Brogan, whose own wife died of breast cancer in 1999, also spoke of losing a spouse and picking up the pieces.
A video showed Carlton in her office with two daughters who grew up to be cowgirls -- and more. One is State Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey; the other, Sarasota Circuit Judge Kim Carlton Bonner.
FASHION PLATES: Luncheon guests also took in some wardrobe advice.
Fashion consultant Jackie Walker narrated "Discover your Fashion Persona" while models showed off Tanner fashions for women large and small. Tanner's Doncastor and elana clothing lines sell at gatherings in homes, somewhat like Tupperware.
In Walker's eyes, your style is either classic, natural, romantic, dramatic or a confusing mishmash of all four. A moderate blend of styles is okay, said Walker, who considers herself "90 percent classic and 10 percent dramatic."
The fashion show wrapped up with models dancing down the runway, swaying and lip-synching Aretha Franklin's Respect.
Walker talks about fashion personas in her book, I Don't Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of the Closet, co-written with Judie Taggart. The two authors are in search of a publisher.
SINGING SWASHBUCKLERS: Pirate music director John Few tried to keep everyone on key when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's Cutthroat Chorus sang for 150 guests at the Feb. 8 opening of the H.B. Plant Museum's exhibit "What's a Gasparilla?"
Pirate Dick Conover assembled the chorus 10 years ago, and now about 20 rowdies sing pirate ballads arranged by musician Joe Stagi, some adding their own lyrics. They especially like singing the national anthem at Bucs, Lightning and Devil Rays games.
One gig they've never booked: their own Gasparilla coronation ball.
Speaking of coronations, Gasparilla's first-ever queen wore a crown of cardboard. Mary Lee Douglas Ligat's crown, from the 1904 ball, is the oldest item in the new exhibit.
Museum chairman Frank Cisneros and his wife Luisa, board member Ana Crespo and Tampa mayoral candidate Frank Sanchez were among those marveling at Gasparilla gear collected over the years.
According to education curator Amy Franklin David, on the night before that first ball, the pirates realized there was no crown for the queen. They quickly made one themselves of surprisingly sturdy cardboard painted gold and dotted with corsage pins and paste jewels.
OPRAH'S CHEF: Guess whose personal chef is coming to dinner? Art Smith, widely known as Oprah's chef, will appear at "Back to the Table" on Feb. 24 at Marcelina in Hyde Park.
Back to the Table is the title of Smith's recent cookbook as well as this fundraiser for the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, a 14,000-square-foot research center at the University of South Florida.
Smith, no stranger to the causes of Florida governors, was executive chef under former Gov. Bob Graham.
Rita Carlino, chef at Marcelina, a private women's club in South Tampa, explains the upcoming party like this: Guests will pay $1,000 and up to attend a 4 to 6 p.m. cooking class with Smith. They'll get to help him make delicious foods to serve later that night when the $100 and up guests join them from 6 to 8 p.m.
BUGLE BOYS BASH: Long before Sept. 11, organizers of the Crisis Center of Hillsborough County had picked "Stars and Stripes at the Hollywood Canteen" as their theme for a March 16 gala.
"After the terrorist attacks, we were really committed to saluting the military," says director of marketing and special events Cragin Mosteller.
That commitment has Mosteller inviting corporations to buy a table for 10 for $1,500 and to donate two seats to veterans or Crisis Center volunteers. Individual tickets are $175.
"It's a great opportunity to honor our vets," Mosteller says.
The dinner and auction at the A La Carte Pavilion sounds like fun. The 19-piece Ten O'Clock Band from Largo will play 1940s big band hits. Dance instructors will be helping guests brush up on jitterbug and swing steps.
Board member Diane Gilbert and her husband, Chris Moore, are writing nostalgic radio show skits.
Mosteller would also like to invite a World War II Medal of Honor winner. If you know one, call Mosteller at 964-1964.
ONE CONCERTO, HOLD THE MAYO: Members of the Florida Orchestra Guild of Tampa are flipping through cookbooks and choosing recipes to prepare for the annual Musician Appreciation Luncheon, Feb. 21 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
For at least 10 years, they've been serving lunch to 90 members of the Florida Orchestra. The musicians take a break to sit down with guild members, who are then welcome to sit in on the rest of the day's rehearsal. This year's VIPs include music director Jahja Ling and concertmaster Amy Moretti.
Liz Tepper and Pat Lessard co-chair the event. "The first thing the musicians ask every fall is, "What's the date of the guild luncheon?' " says Gayle Bertelstein, guild president, recently nominated for a third term.
There's good news for orchestra supporters unavailable for daytime meetings. Barb Izzi is starting a new nighttime guild. The group will also organize fundraisers to support the orchestra's educational programs and audience development.
The new guild has adopted (and expanded) the Jazz Soiree series started by Izzi last September.
"They were so popular we had to move two of them from private homes to Don Vicente de Ybor and Mise en Place," Izzi says. A local jazz musician headlines each soiree. Last year's stars were Belinda Womack; Katt Hefner and her All-Star Band; and Mike Royal.
Izzi says they're still tossing out names for the new group at recruiting parties. She'd love to hear suggestions. Stop by the next get-together: 6 p.m. March 5 at Bellagio restaurant in Westpark Village in Westchase. For more details, call Izzi at 839-3800, ext. 2525.
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