For four days earlier this month, over 60 media professionals from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA) immersed themselves in Nature’s Place to Play. From scalloping and fishing, to shooting, paddling and cycling, attendees played outdoors. Guided tours of Chinsegut Hill Manor House Museum and our Kegs, Casks & Corks Trail proved popular as well. Evenings featured receptions and banquets at local venues and eateries. Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau staff was proud to host a memorable FOWA Annual Conference.
A conference highlight was Thursday’s Springs Fever Professional Development Workshop at Sand Hill Scout Reservation. Numerous speakers delivered presentations on Florida environmental and publishing topics. Among the presenters were Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, President of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition; Brittany Hall-Scharf, Hernando County Florida SeaGrant Agent and Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times columnist and author of “Oh Florida!”
Flawless angling and scalloping adventures were hosted by Captains from Adventure Coast Charters, Chase N Tails Fishing Charters, Bebout Fishin Time Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Charters and Bayport River Safari. Kayaking was on the Weeki Wachee River by Boating in Florida and Bayport-Linda Pedersen Coastal Paddling Trail was courtesy of Flohana Kayaks & Attractions. Everyone loved the outdoor luncheon at Mary’s Fish Camp, catered by Florida Cracker Kitchen.
Many guests got on board a bus for stops at Marker48 Brewing and NJoy Spirits Distillery, part of the Kegs, Casks & Corks Tour. Hernando County’s first craft Brewery, Marker48, was winner of 2018’s Tampa Bay Battle of the Brews. NJoy Spirits, crafters of Wild Buck Rye Whiskey and Mermaid Rum welcomed FOWA members to tour their distillery in the beautiful Chassahowitzka Wildlife Preserve. Several writers enjoyed a guided tour of Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum.
One member said he had more fun shooting skeet and trap at Hernando Sportsman’s Club than at any other Florida range. Others took an early ride on the nearly-officially-finished Good Neighbor Trail. Some plan to return for the Inaugural Good Neighbor Trail Ride on October 14, to mark its official opening. The famous local cuisine and service at Becky Jack’s Food Shack exceeded expectations.
Downtown Brooksville’s The Bistro was caterer at Sand Hill and home to the final evening’s annual FOWA dinner and awards ceremony. Meals were delicious among tables decorated as classic books for guests to identify from clues. At the awards dinner, the spectrum of FOWA talent was evident; winners won awards for published written content as well as photography, television and radio programming, among other categories.
FOWA members creatively capture their experiences on Florida’s Adventure Coast and publish to a range of audiences. Their stories and articles have already – and will continue to – shine new light on our destination. Already, several FOWA members have shared posts and photography about Florida’s Adventure Coast on social media, with some requesting return trips for further content research.
Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau staff and Spring Hill’s Holiday Inn Express were delighted to host this unique and energetic group and welcomes them back for many future visits.