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Amy Scherzer's Diary

State fair has a sweet start

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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 14, 2003


OUR STATE FAIR: Over a glass of fresh squeezed Florida orange juice and a cup of watermelon cubes (Hey, thanks, Tom!), the 99th Florida State Fair opened with a fashion show luncheon Feb. 6. Tangerines brightened every place setting as Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, emceed in the Charles Davis Special Events Center. A Department of Citrus video created to air during the Super Bowl preceded a video featuring Annette Barnett Land, 2002 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. Sitting front and center with a tableful of board members, Olin Mott quipped: "We've been on the board so long, we invented dirt."

The elegant evening gown finale to Georgette's of Old Hyde Park's 20-minute runway show had Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson applauding. ("His comments were clean," announced Carlton, after the show).

A few days later, at the Feb. 10 Governor's Luncheon, developer Al Austin was shocked to hearAnn Lowry Murphey read his biography and learn he was the 2002 Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Austin gave his wife an early valentine, passing the accolades right on to her. " Bev, my guiding light, should have gotten the award," he insisted. The Tampa Metro Civitan Club has been giving the award, Tampa's highest honor for community involvement, since 1927. At least a dozen previous recipients surrounded Austin to offer congratulations.

Former Gov. Bob Martinez filled in for Gov. Jeb Bush, who apparently couldn't make the luncheon. "My 63rd state fair," Martinez told the 1,000-plus city and county business and community leaders.

WINE, WINE, WINE: Napa Valley vendors moved into Raymond James Stadium in full force on Feb. 6 with 75 wineries pouring their hearts and products for Abilities Foundation, the agency that assists people with disabilities. Some 1,600 guests found inventive fare from 18 restaurants. That's a 50 percent increase in guests and wineries, and a 100 percent in restaurants since Abilities' last Napa wine-tasting benefit two years ago, according to co-chairs Dina and Howard Sachs.

SideBern's' seared hamachi on sticky rice with Okinawa sweet potato and orange scallion ginger nage was outstanding. Its neighbor, Bern's Steak House, showed off guava tamarind braised short ribs with foie gras popovers and roasted root vegetable mashed potatoes. Marchand's Bar and Grill at the Renaissance Vinoy spent $7,000 to prepare and serve venison carpaccio with mushroom boursin ragout; veal and porcini agnolotti, among other things. D'Amico's Pasta Grill served portobello stuffed with spinach, asiago and roasted red peppers and Genoa salami cones filled with marscapone and figs.

Guests had full run of the East club section of the stadium to juggle wine glasses and plates, with stops at the silent auction tables loaded with wine and other items. VIPs paid $150 to get an early start; others paid $100. The event is expected to net $100,000.

Tampa mayoral candidate/fitness expert Don Ardell was in the fray. He drinks a glass of red wine every other day, he said.

"There's a cornucopia of good nutrients and delectable pleasures here," said Ardell, but more important "is eating in the company of positive people celebrating their existence in constructive ways." In other words, eat well and prosper.

GREEK TO YOU: How gratifying to see such a tremendous turnout Saturday night for the Tampa Museum of Art members' opening reception for the outstanding Magna Graecia exhibition. Greek music from an electronic bouzouki greeted 700 visitors, including some familiar faces. It was a treat to see former museum director Andy Maass and his wife, Ruthie. Also Michael Bennett, the former antiquities curator who holds the same position at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Bennett organized the show for its Cleveland run before it came here.

Artist Gladys Kashdin was there, with former Appleton Museum director Sandra Talarico. Anna Gervait came up from Sarasota to appreciate the collection. She's running an organization there called Overtures to introduce at-risk youngsters to classical music. Lois Kerban, who recently moved back to Carrollwood from the east coast, arrived with her fiance, Ron Simmons.

HEARTFELT: Attendance was small but sincere Sunday night for Affaire of the Heart, and those who ventured to Don Vicente de Ybor found great entertainment and auction items at the annual Stageworks Theater benefit. Guitarists Jessy Leros and Bryan Zink played; Tampa singer Cricket Hall and Broadway veteran Ann Morrison of Sarasota sang favorite show tunes in the lobby of the historic inn.

Stageworks actors Nathan Burton and Dawn Truax recently finished working with the YES Project, a nine-week anger management session teaching 12 incarcerated teenage boys how to improvise in critical situations. The program culminated with the boys performing five times for their peers. Stageworks founder and producing director Anna Brennen said the feedback "is that it really made a major difference."

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com .

Datebook

TODAY: Eighth annual Stars, Hearts, Fashion & Fun celebrity fashion show and auction benefitting MacDonald Training Center; Hyatt Regency Tampa; 11 a.m.; $40; 870-1300, ext. 310.

TODAY: An Affair to Remember cocktail and silent auction party benefits the Tampa Garden Center, 2629 Bayshore Blvd.; 7-10 p.m.; $50; 251-1174.

FEB. 21: LAMPLighters Luncheon of Light Fashion Show benefits Metropolitan Ministries and Joshua House; Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay; fashions from Saks Fifth Avenue; 11 a.m.; $60; 250-3737.

FEB. 25: People of Vision Dinner to benefit Prevent Blindness Florida, honoring Ron Vaughn, Gwen Stephenson and Judy Genshaft; 6:30 p.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $150; 874-2020, ext. 104.

MARCH 8: 10th annual Stepping Out Gala to benefit St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation; 6:30 p.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $175; 872-0979, ext. 233.

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