The second annual Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival was last weekend and, if you missed it, well… you really missed it. Be sure to find your way to next year’s version.
It’s a great opportunity to rub elbows with some Hollywood folk, enjoy some amazing movies, eat some awesome food and sip, sip, sip!
During the festival, founder Jerusha Stewart was described as a “force of nature.” This is certainly appropriate! Our community owes her a debt of gratitude for bringing this fabulous event to Vero Beach.
Here are some peeks into what I saw while working as photographer for the festival. The last image is of actor Geoff Stults. Don't miss that!
Roy Chapin of Four Winds Winery greeting guests at Quail Valley River Club.
Film critic Jeff Lyons with his son, Ben - also a film critic.
Burt Reynolds (receiving VBWFF award) with director Adam Rifkin and Jerusha Stewart. Rifkin wrote and directed Burt's recent film Dog Years, featured at the Festival.
Perfume Wars, Fierce Females Power Networking Lunch. Arrow denotes the presence of Vero Beach Mayor Laura Moss.
Left to right: Ngoc Nguyen - Producer / publicist for Miramax and Paramount. Molly Smith - Producer La La Land. Barb Stegemann - Writer Perfume War. Jerusha Stewart - Founder Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival.
Actor Geoff Stults answering an audience question during a discussion panel.
Imani Milele are Swahili words meaning "trust" and "forever." This is refreshing - to say the least - in this age of aggressive cynicism. The Imani Milele Children's Choir has its American office near us in Sebastian, FL. Recently, we had 16 or so of the choir members in the studio for a high energy portrait session. "High energy" would be a pretty serious understatement. These Ugandan kids quickly fill any room with vibrant energy, joy and a love of life that is truly inspiring. I wish I could have them in here for an hour or so every day!
They are currently on tour in the U.S. Please see them if they come to your area. You will be thrilled by their talent and the love they will shine into your heart.
Back to the session: You can see below that we started with a nice, quiet formal group portrait. After that, I encouraged the kids to relax a little. Well... it was wonderful. This is one talented, charismatic group of young people.
You can find their schedule as well as ways to help these very deserving people at their website: http://www.imanimilele.com.
Don't miss an opportunity to hang out with these people and give them a big hug for me!
Yes, I know it's only a Facebook banner change. People do it every day. What's the big deal?
Well, a couple of things.
First, obviously is Nicole. Nicole just graduated from Vero Beach High School and is heading off to college. Making her senior portraits was about as much fun as I've had so far this year. Her Mom is our local ITEX Barter owner. You might want to check that out here.
Next is the Indian River Land Trust. This group has done a tremendous job of preserving green space in our area. They saved McKee Botanical Garden from development and have a number of projects right now that preserve land along the Indian River Lagoon.
So, this portrait is a composite made from two images. I love working this magic on the old Mac. The image below was made yesterday on the boardwalk at one of my favorite Land Trust properties, the Toni Robinson Trail. The portrait of Nicole was made in the studio. The ability to put them together in an artful way is something that I have worked for years to achieve.
Let me know if you would like some of my magic on a wall or two in your home.
This is my friend Jim Welles with his dog, Jake. Jim is an icon here in Vero Beach.
When he was growing up in Chicago, his parents always loved dogs. Jim was no different, enjoying the companionship and loyalty of a great many furry friends over the years.
In 2009, he began taking his dog, Red – a fox red Labrador Retriever – to the stretch of land along the river behind Bob Summers baseball field on Indian River Drive. This is a grassy area owned by the City. It was unfenced but still frequented by dogs and their owners for many years. Very often, the conversation at this “not-quite-official” dog park was about how the city might take away the use of this land for dogs and earmark it for something else. There was always a little bit of unease permeating the whole experience. The city of Vero Beach did not seem to offer friendly places for people to bring their pooches.
Jim soon realized there was a real need for a legitimate, fenced, off-leash dog park. He began working tirelessly to achieve this goal, approaching the City Council and Recreation Department with his idea, rallying the community to sign petitions, and commissioning professionals to help him put together a workable proposal. In April 2014, after five years of hard work and perseverance, the city agreed to a 10 year lease and his dream became a reality. Vero’s only free, fenced, off-leash dog park was established.
Delighted by the outcome, Jim carried on as President of the dog park’s Board of Directors for another year. Recently he decided to step down from the board, but remains active in his role as visionary, pioneer and fund-raiser. As the individual behind bringing this dream to fruition, the Board has bestowed upon him the title of President Emeritus with no term limit. Today, the park is safely fenced, trees have been planted, benches and sun shades have been installed. The area is being enjoyed daily by hundreds of dogs and their owners… all because of one persistent visionary who followed his dream.