According to Amelia Island Tourism Chief Gil Langley, the month of March with its automotive events that included the Concours d’Elegance, Festivals of Speed and the new Vintage Grand Prix drove a lot of money onto the island. And according to Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Len Kreger it drove some of his constituents nuts with the noise.
Langley said the entire 10-day period that included all three events resulted not only in fun and entertaining family events, but a multimillion dollar “haul” for island folks.
In a presentation to the Fernandina Beach City Commission Langley broke each of the three events monetary benefits down as follows: Concours d’Elegance ,$20,120,300; Festivals of Speed, $4,953,700; and Vintage Gran Prix, $3,063,200.
Langley told the Commission that last year overall, visitors spent $433 million, up 10.7 percent over 2014, and that the total economic impact for 2015 was $570 million.
Commissioner Kreger pooh-poohed what Langley called the island’s “cash cow” car events saying that the Vintage Grand Prix, which was held at the city airport, drew a lot of noise complaints from neighboring homeowners. He suggested re-routing the race course away from residential properties next year and using noise monitors to keep track of decibel levels. “We do need to attempt to deal with the noise issue,” said Mr. Kreger. “Some people were concerned about their property values.”
“Some of the noise you hear is the ringing of cash registers,” replied Langley.
How a property’s cash value is impacted by an event that lasts just two days and doesn’t go beyond dark to me is a nonstarter and those complaining are the same “get off my lawn you little bastard” cranks that want to hang a “no vacancy” sign on the west side of Shave Bridge. And who the heck builds a house next to an airport and then complains about noise anyway?
I may be overstating the issue, but it gave me the opportunity to write a New York Daily News headline like the one above and I wasn’t going to pass that up.
Commissioner Kreger should suggest that those complaining curmudgeons invest in a cheap set of ear plugs so they can come home following their 4 p.m. “early bird” special dinners and hit the sack at their regular 6 p.m. bedtime undisturbed.
Langley said that the upcoming Shrimp Festival is expected to deliver $9 million to the local economy. He didn’t mention what action would be taken to keep the raucous shrimp from becoming too boisterous.
Beating Your Feet On The Mississippi Mud, Etc: Linda’s Mississippi cousin, Diane and husband Bill, visited us over Easter weekend and told us a story at breakfast one morning that could have been lifted from a Lewis Grizzard column or Jerry Clower routine. It appears they have close friends in the tiny southern Mississippi town of Wiggins that are both natives of the state and University of Mississippi graduates. When the talk one afternoon got around to how each couple met and where they went on their first date these two related how on their initial outing he drove his future wife in his Volkswagen bus to the local dump where they sat on the roof of it and shot rats with .22 rifles, one of his favorite past times and one which they repeated often thereafter. There’s a country-western song in here somewhere.
Not A Pretty Picture: While Belgians were mourning the loss of life at the Brussels airport and a subway station and searching for the Islamic terrorist bombers, President Obama was doing the wave at a baseball game in Cuba with communist thug Raul Castro and dancing the Tango in Argentina. And when the President did eventually come back to the U.S. all he wanted to talk about was the weather. Only nine more months of this dreadful nightmare.
Shut Up And Go Away: I can only think of two current congress people in the U.S. who are more obnoxious and outrageous than Corrine Brown, the Democrat from Florida’s 5th Congressional District, who has embarrassed folks in the Jacksonville area and that district for 23 years, and one of them is our state’s 9th District Alan Grayson, the Democrat loon who’s running for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat, and the other being Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, who shames her Houston, Texas district. However, we may soon be shed of Ms. Brown, who has allegedly been tagged an unindicted co-conspirator in a charity scam. Recently Ms. Brown, who is fighting plans to redraw her district, met with reporters at an event where she bussed in supporters to discuss the redistricting issue. She refused to say who paid for the buffet her three bus loads of supporters were eating, or who picked up the tab for the busses and told the media to leave. Facing a battle over her allegedly taking charity money for personal use she shouted out to her supporters “Help! Send money!” to aid in paying her legal costs. Maybe those supporters will visit her in the slammer, where she belongs if guilty of an education charity scam that saw $800,000 collected and just $1,000 of it used for a scholarship. Ms. Brown makes former Georgia 4th District Democrat Congresswoman and “9/11 Truther” Cynthia McKinney (Google her) almost look sane.
You Say Tomato And I Say Tomato: Contrary to what many people from the southern U.S. like to think, folks other than those from the American deep south also relish tomato sandwiches. As a boy I remember eating lots of sandwiches filled with tomatoes picked fresh from my grandparent’s kitchen garden on their Sparta, Ontario farm and my parent’s back yard garden in nearby St. Thomas, all eaten on homemade bread slathered with mayonnaise. This took place in southern Ontario, so the southern part is factored into the equation. I was reminded of that when I saw the following item tacked onto the end of the Roy Blount “Save Room for Pie” book review in the March 19-20 Wall Street Journal Weekend edition. The reviewer, former Texas Monthly Editor Greg Curtis, provided the following, with permission from Ms. Magnuson of Vicksburg, Mississippi:
Hester Magnuson’s Tomato Sandwiches
- Onion Salt
- Mayonnaise (Duke’s preferable but Hellman’s will work)
- Thin-sliced white sandwich bread
The most important things in making a tomato sandwich is to use fresh, peeled tomatoes. “If you don’t bother to peel the tomatoes then forget about making the sandwich!” Hester says. First peel, then slice the tomatoes. (To peel, drop the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. They are almost impossible to peel without this first step. With this step, the skin just slips right off.) Spread them out on paper towels, salt on one side with onion salt (also very important). The paper towels will absorb some of the liquid from the tomatoes. While they drain, cut the rounds of white sandwich bread, using a large 3″ biscuit cutter. Spread mayonnaise on sliced rounds. Place a tomato between two rounds, and sprinkle paprika on top of bread for decoration. No matter how many you make there will not be any left over.”
Warning: These Jobs Could Be Hazardous To Your Health: Nassau County is rife with industries whose occupations are considered dangerous with commercial fishing the greatest threat to its workers. According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics commercial fishing is the most dangerous job in the country with an average of 132 deaths per 1,000 workers between 2006 and 2013. Coming in second were loggers while aircraft pilots took third place. Police officers were ranked 14th with 16 deaths per 1,000 workers.
Trump Is Wrong: Donald Trump is talking about imposing tariffs on China, Mexico, Japan, etc. but when that was tried in 1888 and 1930 it did the opposite of what was intended and led to economic chaos and deepened a depression respectively. What the candidates, including Trump, should promise to go after that is wrecking havoc on American businesses is the federal bureaucracy that includes the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization responsible for more lost jobs and stagnant growth in this country than any external foe could have dreamed possible. The IRS, Department of Education and Department of Energy should also face the wrecking ball. Let those worthless blood sucking agency employees try to find jobs where they actually produce something of value instead of hindering those who do.
Jet Ski Adventures: George Morris and his Flying Fish Adventures on Amelia Island is now offering guided tours on jet skis from Fernandina Beach to Ft. George Inlet and back. “The clear water and white sand beaches at Ft. George Inlet are spectacular at this time of year,” says the affable Mr. Morris. The three-hour tours depart from the downtown Fernandina Beach Marina and lunch is provided. Guests can enjoy the beauty of the backcountry waters, birds, and other wildlife on this guided jet ski tour. For more information or to book a tour visit flyingfishfun.com or call 904/310-5999.
Impressive Numbers: Somebody sent me statistics that I found very impressive and startling. They state that during the three and one-half years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945,the United States produced: 22 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 34 million tons of merchant ships,100,000 fighter aircraft, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, and 2,500,000 military trucks. The country put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and along with its allies ultimately, conquered Japan and Germany. During almost the exact same amount of time, the Obama Administration couldn’t even build a web site that worked.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: I had an opportunity to sample the food and atmosphere at the recently opened Burlingame Restaurant at downtown’s 20 South 5th Street Monday evening and came away very, very impressed. In my opinion owners Eric and Deb Fanelli have done everything right including eliminating many of my restaurant pet peeves — loud blaring music, dark cave-like and crowded interiors, indifferent servers and kitchen noise that spills into the dining area. None of this exists in the cozy, bright and spacious 72-seat dining areas that includes a bar that seats 10 and serves a variety of very good wines and craft beers on tap. The entrance to the restaurant is understated making guests fell they are entering the home of friends or neighbors for a meal and cocktails. In fact, the building was a private home prior to hosting a law office and now a restaurant. I sampled shrimp and grits, smoked pork, citrus cured salmon, strawberry gazpacho, a variety of artisan cheeses and more and would go back and do it all again anytime. Prices are reasonable with the highest a tilefish with roasted cauliflower, taleggio pasta, spinach, sunchoke chips and lemon puree costing $34. Fish is listed at “market price” but that’s no different from almost every other fine dining restaurant on the island. Eric, a veteran of 30 years in forestry management with Rayonier, knows the area, the tastes of the people and has hit the sweet spot with Burlingame. Former Ritz-Carlton Salt Chef Chad Livingston is in charge of the kitchen which serves Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. and will start a Sunday brunch April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you go ask for Abby Maddox for your server, you’ll be delighted you did. Call ’em at 904/432-7671 or visit the website burlingamerestaurant.com. In addition to Burlingame, Fernandina also saw the quiet opening of the Centre and South 7th Street’s Luca’s Restaurant and Bar from Luca Misciasci who also owns the popular Ciao’s Bistro on Centre and South 3rd. That combined with Bob’s Steak and Chop House in the Shoppes of Omni Amelia Island Plantation in the same space, where PLAE was for many years, Centre Street’s Picnic Basket, Ash Street’s Patio and the upcoming Amelia Tavern on Centre Street, Sabbia on North 3rd, and the quartet of bars (Locals, Churchill’s, Sadler Ranch, Vault 869) at the corner of Sadler and 14th Street are straining the island’s hospitality labor pool. Those who want to work have plenty of opportunities and the bars and eateries are eagerly seeking folks who shun the “slacker” label and want to earn good money in fun and lively atmospheres. I’ve noticed many “Now Hiring” signs appearing in eatery and bar windows. Has anyone ever thought of opening a local employment agency targeting just the hospitality industry or does one already exist?