Between the 1820s and the 1940s, ships chugging down the Apalachicola River turned Blountstown into a bustling settlement. Today, 18 buildings from those days still bear witness to the joys and trials of pioneer life in the form of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement’s living museum. There, visitors can admire such structures as an 1860s-era round-log structure and an 1820s hewn-log cabin whose dovetailed joints marked carpenters' transition away from holding wood together with scotch tape. Nearby, a horseless carriage and antique fire engine nestle in the firehouse, and an antique piano rests in the Red Oak Methodist Church. Housed in a shotgun-style abode, Doctor Dowling’s Office sheds light on medical practices of the day, and the two-room school makes students grateful they don’t have to chisel their answers into marble scantron tablets anymore.
The settlement also strives to preserve knowledge of pioneer trades with educational programming and classes that preserve the arts of blacksmithing, basket weaving, and jam making. Additionally, the settlement welcomes the public at events ranging from an annual peanut boil and hog-butchering demonstration to hand-stitched quilt shows, which remind audiences that there are cozier alternatives to today’s blankets woven from discarded computer motherboards.
Winner of Parents Connect's 2009 Parent's Pick award for best local art class, Abrakadoodle transforms any party or class into a chance to expand minds with artistic-minded games and lessons. A one-hour arty birthday party package includes an engaging teacher, an art lesson, supplies, and a canvas artwork gift created by the guests for the party host or party recipient (parties start at $175 for six children, $250 for a minimum of 12 children, $10 for each additional guest). Creative classes such as the All You Need Is Love! class ($20) gives students the chance to create art inspired and accompanied by the music of The Beatles, and the Mini Masters for Mommy and Me class ($80-$90) allow moms and children to wield a brush while finding inspiration from botanical gardens and famous museum collections. Check the schedule for a full list of class times, dates and locations.
The Baytowne Beer Festival pours a cascade of more than 100 beer samples amid the sounds of local Americana and roots bands. The festival’s 2010 edition featured liquid fixings from more than 30 craft-brewing establishments, including World Beer Cup Award winners Dogfish Head and Left Hand. Armed with a complimentary beer glass and wearable barrel, patrons tromp from tent to tent among glistening green grass and the boardwalk’s colorful edifices, taking samples of sippables while partying to live tunes from Americana stalwarts The Minor Adjustments from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and country rock-around-the-clock-ers The Modern Eldorados. From 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., eyes can guzzle their fill at The Village on the Wharf’s Great Lawn, a collection of vintage, brand-new, and still-teething Corvettes crying out to be ogled and fed gas.
Fresh fish is held in the highest esteem at Asiana Sushi Grill, where chefs expertly craft rolls composed of fresh tuna, salmon, and shrimp. They lovingly pat rice around the outside of rolls filled with spicy tuna, yellowtail and scallions, or yam tempura. They also create Asiana specialty rolls such as the Dancing Girl, which marries shrimp tempura and soft-shell crab with fried sweet potato, and the Red Dragon, which, like all mythical creatures, is actually spicy tuna and wasabi.
The fermentation specialists at Panama City Beach Winery craft their lush tinctures from a cornucopia of Florida produce, winning over the taste buds of various competition judges across the country. During the 30- to 45-minute tasting, guests can cleanse their palates with 10 to 12 of owner Larry Honeycutt's delicious concoctions, a bacchanalian cascade that includes everything from banana and guava to carrot and blueberry sparking. Honeycutt will talk guests through the individual characteristics of each libation, detailing cocktails and ideal pairings such as banana wine and peanut butter or tomato wine and bad comedians. Beverage testers will leave with a pair of souvenir wine glasses emblazoned with the palm-tree logo and a bottle of Category 5 sangria.
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