Equestrian Magic Awaits At 2024 Adequan Global Dressage Festival

Equestrian Magic Awaits At 2024 Adequan Global Dressage Festival

By Alicia McLaughlin

The equestrian world is abuzz with anticipation for the grandeur that awaits at the 2024 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). From Jan. 10 to March 27, 2024, the AGDF will unfurl a tapestry of events, competitions and showcases that celebrate the remarkable bond between horses and riders, the intricacy of the sport and the passion that fuels it.

Dressage, often described as the ballet of equestrian sports, requires an intricate dance of power, precision and elegance between horse and rider. The AGDF festival has carved its niche as one of the premier platforms for dressage. It’s not merely a competition; it’s a congregation of international talent, a fusion of styles and a testament to the global love for dressage.

The most glittering jewel in the AGDF crown is Friday Night Stars. As night descends and the stars twinkle overhead, riders and their magnificent steeds take center stage, performing breathtaking routines set to handpicked music. From classical symphonies to modern chartbusters, the diversity adds layers to the spectacle. Each performance underlines the essence of dressage — a dance of power, precision and harmony. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Another feather in the AGDF cap is the dressage showcase at Wellington International’s International Arena. Set between March 13 and March 17, this week promises international flair and finesse, making it a must-watch for all dressage lovers.

The AGDF isn’t just about established names. It’s also about nurturing the future. The Robert Dover USEF Horsemastership Clinic Week, Jan. 3-7, is a testament to this commitment.

Featuring a select group of young and promising athletes, this event is a window into the future of the sport. From medalists of various championships to fresh faces showing great potential, it’s a week of learning, competition and growth.

Several other events promise to make AGDF 2024 memorable, such as the U25 dressage classes, sponsored by Diamante Farms. This showcase for emerging talents offers glimpses of future dressage superstars. Transitioning from youth classes to the Grand Prix level can be a daunting leap. Recognizing this challenge, the U25 (Under 25) dressage classes were introduced to provide a smoother transition. By offering a platform that caters specifically to this need, the sport ensures a steady stream of talent, ready and equipped to dazzle at the Grand Prix level. For young riders with dreams of reaching the pinnacle of dressage, U25 classes are an invaluable steppingstone.

The CDIO3* Nations Cup is also popular. Following Germany’s 2023 victory, this event is tinged with anticipation. Who will claim the coveted title this year? The primary aim of the Nations Cup in dressage is to promote team competition. While individual achievements are still celebrated, the emphasis shifts to combined team scores.

A standard dressage Nations Cup team consists of three or four horse-and-rider pairs. All team members’ scores contribute to the total, but in cases where there are four combinations, usually the lowest score is dropped. In the Nations Cup format, the team’s combined score determines rankings. By adding individual members’ percentages from both days of competition, the teams are ranked. The Nations Cup dressage format is a refreshing take on traditional dressage competitions, emphasizing teamwork and strategy. It provides a platform for nations to showcase their depth of talent and offers audiences a thrilling team-based competition.

Meanwhile, para dressage competition at the AGDF will show the grace, grit and inclusivity of the sport. Dressage, the artful ballet of equestrian sports, is not limited to just the able-bodied. Para dressage allows riders with disabilities to showcase their skill, connection with their horse and competitive spirit. It’s a testament to the human spirit and the bond between horse and rider that transcends physical limitations. Para dressage is the only equestrian discipline included in the Paralympic Games.

In the world of American dressage, few events hold the historic significance of the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, which stands out as a staple competition, drawing top riders, fans and equestrian enthusiasts from all over the globe. The Palm Beach Dressage Derby, which returns Feb. 28 through March 3, was first established in 1983. It was one of the pioneering dressage competitions in the U.S. during a time when dressage was still finding its foothold in America. Since its inception, the derby has consistently grown in stature and significance, both nationally and internationally.

Also among the roster of prestigious events, the Challenge of the Americas (COTA) stands out not just for its competition but also for its philanthropic heart. The core equestrian spectacle of COTA is the performance of “quadrilles” — a choreographed routine where teams of horses and riders perform synchronized movements to music. These performances are a delightful display of precision, harmony and artistry. But COTA isn’t restricted to dressage. The event often melds dressage with other equestrian disciplines.

At its core, COTA is a charitable event. It was established to contribute to breast cancer research. The event raises funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and related initiatives. Over the years, it has mobilized the equestrian community to contribute generously to this cause. Don’t miss out on the COTA event happening Friday, March 4.

Also part of the AGDF are the Helgstrand Dressage horse presentations. Helgstrand Dressage is one of the world’s most decorated and successful stables for the training and selling of dressage horses. With top European stallion stations in Germany and Denmark, they secure the best possible bloodlines in the world. Their top-notch facilities have training stables for elite dressage horses and accommodation for up to 450 horses at locations worldwide: Helgstrand Dressage, Helgstrand Academy, Ny Ravnstrup, Helgstrand Dressage USA and Helgstrand Germany.

The US PRE Week at the AGDF is more than just a dressage competition. It’s a celebration of the rich heritage of Pure Spanish Horses or Pura Raza Española (PRE). The week showcases these magnificent horses competing in dressage events, demonstrating their prowess in a discipline for which they are so naturally suited. One of the primary objectives of the week is to raise awareness about the breed and recognize its contributions to equestrian sports.

At Equestrian Village, attendees can indulge in more than just world-class dressage events. They are also treated to an array of diverse culinary experiences and retail therapy. Prominent retail brands like Vanner House and ShowChic present an exquisite collection of equestrian-inspired merchandise, ensuring that visitors take home more than just memories from their day.

The AGDF isn’t just an event; it’s a journey. It takes attendees through the rich history of dressage, showcases the current maestros of the sport and offers a glimpse into its promising future. Whether a seasoned equestrian, a budding enthusiast or someone curious about dressage, the festival promises a roller-coaster of emotions, awe-inspiring performances and unforgettable memories.

For AGDF updates and sponsorship opportunities, visit https://gdf.coth.com.


Exciting Fall And Winter Seasons Planned At Grand Champions Polo Club

Exciting Fall And Winter Seasons Planned At Grand Champions Polo Club

By Sharon Robb

Polo returns for the highly anticipated fall and winter seasons in Wellington at the Grand Champions Polo Club. After enjoying an extremely successful summer season at the Aspen Valley Polo Club, its sister club, Grand Champions will host medium-goal and high-goal tournaments while celebrating its 17th anniversary this year.

The fall and winter seasons feature every level of polo, including the 26-goal World Polo League that begins its sixth season in February with the All-Star Challenge.

The World Polo League features some of the best polo players in the world, including Argentine 10-goalers Pablo Mac Donough and brothers Camilo and Barto Castagnola, along with Nic Roldan, the second highest ranked American at 8 goals.

The World Polo League, created by club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi, has the distinction of being the only 26-goal polo played outside Argentina and offers some of the most competitive polo in Wellington.

The 2023 fall season commenced in October with medium-goal and high-goal tournaments, providing fun, competition and preparation for the winter season that gets underway in January 2024. Roldan heads the star-studded fall lineup that also features Martin Jauregui, Jason Crowder, Sugar Erskine and Grant Ganzi.

The fall medium-goal schedule features six tournaments, including the season-opening Fall Classic, the Tackeria Invitational, the Pedro Morrison Memorial and the Banyan Cup, all played in October.

The fall medium-goal season continues in November with the Fall Plates (Nov. 1-5) and the inaugural Casablanca Fall Cup (Nov. 8-12).

The Pedro Morrison Memorial, now in its 14th year, is played in honor of the avid polo player and patron of the Sympatico Polo team, who helped develop Wellington into a thriving equestrian community. The Tackeria Invitational also has a special place in club history as the inaugural tournament when the club first opened in 2007.

Among the season highlights are the Nov. 7-15 USPA North American Cup and the Nov. 11-21 USPA National 20-Goal Championship. This is followed by the Saturday, Nov. 25 doubleheader featuring the Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial and the International Cup with GCPC USA putting its undefeated 11-game win streak on the line against Spain. Grand Champions has been the only club in the nation to stage two USPA-sanctioned 20-goal tournaments during the fall season.

In last year’s International Cup, GCPC USA won its 11th consecutive title with a 6-5 win over Switzerland. Tomas Ruiz Guinazu, 39, a member of the 2022 Swiss National Team, was named Most Valuable Player.

Since 2012, in front of sellout crowds and a worldwide ChukkerTV livestream audience, the U.S. has defeated England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Azerbaijan, France, Argentina (twice) and Switzerland in the annual battle for the coveted cup.

The well-organized fall and winter tournaments attract players from all over the United States and from around the world, including players from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Switzerland. Grand Champions also attracts several of the nation’s top American players.

The Grand Champions Fall Invitational League is geared toward improving a player’s polo skills at every level. Roster lineups change from tournament to tournament, with evenly matched teams featuring pro and amateur players. The fall league features stick-and-ball sessions during the week, two medium tournament games every weekend, ambulance and USPA umpires for all tournament games, world-class polo fields, club-sponsored social events every weekend for all players and top-of-the-line trophies for all teams every weekend.

The World Polo League season features the All-Star Challenge (Feb. 6-25), the Founders Cup (Feb. 22 to March 10), the Palm Beach Open (March 6-23), the Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial (March 24), the Triple Crown of Polo (March 20 to April 13) and the Miami Beach Polo World Cup (April 19-21).

Three other high-goal tournaments are: the Feb. 1-11 Sterling Cup (20 goals), the Feb. 7-24 $100,000 World Cup (0-40 goals) and the Feb. 27 to March 10 Santa Rita Abierto (20 goals).

In addition to the prestigious World Polo League, the January through April winter season attracts men and women of all ability levels and offers 6, 8, 12 and 16-goal leagues, in addition to a weekly Polo School Women’s League, WCT Finals, several junior tournaments under the Polo Training Foundation umbrella and special events at the club’s 11 fields.

The Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is a unique, private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, a vet room, staff quarters, a guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.

Wellington-based ChukkerTV (CTV Sports) is livestreaming the entire fall and winter seasons, the only club in the world to do so, with Dale Schwetz calling the action in the fall, and Schwetz and Jan-Erik Franck during the winter. ChukkerTV’s state-of-the art technology also features team challenges and instant replay, which made their debut at Grand Champions in 2014.

The Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience, including horses, pros and certified umpires, in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its Polo on Demand program at the turnkey facility.

The Polo School, a nonprofit organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grassroots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals with opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.

For more information on the fall and winter leagues or the Polo School, contact Juan Bollini at (561) 346-1099 or Cale Newman at (561) 876-2930.

The Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. To learn more about the 2024 season, visit www.gcpolo.com.


Capturing The Essence Of An Individual

Capturing The Essence Of An Individual LifeStoryDocs By Filmmaker Ron Davis Makes Unique Documentaries Available To Everyone

In a world overflowing with material possessions, there is a growing desire for something more profound — meaningful stories that capture the essence of an individual’s life. Enter Ron Davis, a visionary filmmaker who here in Wellington has produced the equestrian-themed films Harry & Snowman, Life in the Doghouse and ParaGold.

Davis has embarked on a mission to craft bespoke documentaries for individuals who seemingly have everything. Through his innovative service, LifeStoryDocs, Davis elevates storytelling to an art form, creating personalized documentaries that celebrate life’s extraordinary moments.

This has become a unique and groundbreaking service in the world of documentary filmmaking. The concept behind LifeStoryDocs is to capture the stories of individuals who have reached the pinnacle of success, using the medium of documentary to immortalize their legacies in a way that photographs or biographies cannot.

The documentary is not only a means to preserve and celebrate a person’s story; it’s also the perfect gift for loved ones on birthdays, holidays and milestones. Imagine the look of sheer surprise and joy on a loved one’s face when they receive a personalized documentary that encapsulates their extraordinary journey. It’s a gift that goes beyond the material, delving into the emotional core of their life. “It is the best gift I have ever received,” equestrian Ken Berkley said.

LifeStoryDocs is not a cookie-cutter documentary service. It doesn’t adhere to one-size-fits-all narratives. Instead, it tailors each documentary to the unique story of the individual. The journey starts with extended interviews with the subject (if the film is not a surprise), their friends, family and colleagues, where Davis and his team delve into the person’s life, experiences and passions. These interviews serve as a canvas upon which the individuals can paint their innermost thoughts and reflections, ensuring that the documentary is an authentic reflection of that person’s life.

The experience is highly personalized and exclusive to the clients. Davis and his team take the time to get to know the subject on a personal level, understanding their life’s journey, values, achievements and aspirations. They work closely with the subjects to craft a unique narrative that reflects their individuality and captures the essence of their life story.

To do so, Davis uses music, graphics, voice-overs, archival footage, home movies and recreation. The result is a masterpiece that is a true reflection of that person’s life.

One of the most remarkable aspects is the film’s ability to preserve legacies. These documentaries serve as a living testament to the person’s life and values, ensuring that their stories are passed down through generations. They become heirlooms that offer a glimpse into the person’s life, achievements and the lessons they’ve learned.

LifeStoryDocs has also been used for other purposes. Organizations, institutions and families have employed the service to document the stories of influential figures, companies, NGOs, founders, philanthropists and cherished members of the community. These documentaries become invaluable historical records, showcasing the impact on their communities and the world.

LifeStoryDocs is more than just a personalized documentary service; it is a celebration of life and the power of storytelling. Through this innovative platform, Davis and his team are preserving legacies and capturing the essence of remarkable individuals who have achieved tremendous success. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and LifeStoryDocs documentaries are worth far more, encapsulating a lifetime of memories and wisdom in every frame. Through this service, Davis’ unique approach to storytelling is rewriting the rules of documentary filmmaking.

To learn more about filmmaker Ron Davis and LifeStoryDocs, visit www.lifestorydocs.com.


Dedicated Animal Advocate

Dedicated Animal Advocate Wellington’s Siobhan Gallagher Is On A Mission To Find Homes For Shelter Animals

By Mike May

Wellington resident Siobhan Gallagher enjoys making a living as a real estate agent, but her true passion in life is helping animals, specifically rescue dogs.

Loving dogs and providing a home for them has been a lifelong passion for Gallagher since her childhood growing up in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“We always had golden retrievers in my family,” Gallagher recalled.

Now, she is looking to connect with other like-minded people in Palm Beach County who share a similar passion for homeless dogs and cats.

Gallagher agreed with the sentiment that dogs are your best friend.

“Dogs are great,” she said. “They are always happy to see you, and they always wag their tail with excitement.”

For the last 18 months, Gallagher has been volunteering eight to 10 hours a week at Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control (ACC), which is located on Belvedere Road just west of the turnpike.

“I’m there every Monday and Thursday morning,” Gallagher said. “While there, I spend time with the dogs, take them for a walk, play ball with them, give them a bath and really just give them some attention.”

It was Gallagher’s love of a different animal that first brought her to Wellington. “My interest in horses is what brought me to Wellington,” Gallagher explained. “I have always ridden horses, managed barns and conducted training. I always had a horse to ride in my life.”

Now, she does not have a horse in her life. To fill that void, Gallagher is focusing on rescue dogs. ACC, meanwhile, has far too many dogs to find homes for — and Gallagher is there to lend a helping hand. She is on a mission to recruit more dog lovers.

According to Gallagher, there are more dogs living at ACC than they have kennels, and there are not enough volunteers to help look after the canine and feline residents.

“There are only 144 kennels at Animal Care & Control, and there are more than 250 dogs living there right now, which means many dogs are sharing a kennel,” Gallagher said. “It is a very stressful environment for the dogs.”

Gallagher added that being a volunteer is not a one-way street.

“You make great friends with people who have similar interests, and it’s a good networking opportunity,” she said.

What makes ACC different than other outlets for abandoned and homeless animals is that it must accept any dog or cat it receives, finds or discovers.

Currently, the supply of rescue dogs is greater than the demand for rescue dogs.

“At one point this past summer, Animal Care & Control was accepting an average of 12 new surrenders a day,” Gallagher said.

To that end, ACC needs more people like Gallagher who are willing to look after the animals on a regular basis. The shelter also needs more people to foster and adopt the animals, too, which will improve the living conditions for the ones left behind.

“There are some great dogs to adopt, but many get overlooked,” Gallagher said, noting that she is doing her part by fostering two dogs at the moment.

If anybody wants to adopt or foster a rescue dog or cat, the selection is diverse, and the price is right.

“Animal Care & Control has small dogs, big dogs, young dogs, older dogs and many types of dogs, such as huskies, German shepherds, poodles, bulldogs and others,” Gallagher said. “For a number of months, adoption fees have been waived, so there’s no cost to adopt. The animals will be spayed/neutered and vaccinated.”

If you want to foster a pet, the price is right, too.

“Fostering is free,” Gallagher added. “Animal Care & Control will provide all food and medical care for any animal that is fostered. You just have to welcome the animal into your home for a short stay.”

Another point that Gallagher emphasized is that ACC should not be labeled a “kill” shelter. In reality, it’s an open-admittance, temporary home that serves as a bridge between being homeless and finding a permanent home for a rescue.

“The only time that I am aware of an animal being euthanized is if there are severe behavior issues, a major illness such as cancer, or the quality of life for the animal is in decline,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher noted that ACC is receiving outside assistance, as it’s now working with the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League on finding homes for rescue dogs.

“ACC has teamed up with Peggy Adams on a new program, where dogs from ACC go directly into Peggy Adams’ adoption program after a short-term foster,” Gallagher said. “It’s called Foster2Rescue.”

One of the biggest advocates of Gallagher’s volunteer efforts is Michela Green, the executive director of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, of which Gallagher is a member.

“Siobhan is a Wellington Chamber of Commerce member who participated in our Clear the Shelter campaign last year, and immediately became a volunteer at Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control,” Green said. “Now, she is the ‘rock star’ you often see fostering, facilitating Dogs Day Out, working adoption events and, of course, spending numerous hours at the shelter with the dogs. My goal is to show the community what Siobhan Gallagher is doing to, hopefully, recruit some new volunteers and reduce the stigma at the county shelter, so we may potentially get new adopters and foster families.”

If you want to join Gallagher as an ACC volunteer, visit https://discover.pbcgov.org/publicsafety/animalcare or call (561) 233-1200. Potential volunteers are also welcome to contact Gallagher at siobhangallagher123@gmail.com or (561) 531-2763.

The Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control shelter is located at 7100 Belvedere Road. See the available animals at https://secure.co.palm-beach.fl.us/snap/home.



Swank Farm Table Season Preview

Swank Farm Table Season Preview Enjoy A Feast For The Senses At A Wide Array Of Special Culinary Events

As the local growing season comes into full swing, Swank Specialty Produce is once again set to captivate the hearts and palates of area food enthusiasts with its highly anticipated Swank Table series and Farmers Market.

This year promises a lineup of extraordinary chefs and a series of immersive culinary experiences that celebrate the bounty of Florida’s vibrant agricultural scene. It promises to be a season of unforgettable flavors and community camaraderie.

Considered a culinary extravaganza, the Swank Table series, comprising 10 enchanting al fresco dinners set on the farm, kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 12, with a festive Fall Harvest Hoe Down, followed by a Farm Market Asado on Sunday, Dec. 3, with eight more Swank Table events planned for January through April.

These events are a celebration of the finest ingredients sourced from Florida’s farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, micro-brewers, distillers and winemakers. The culmination of these elements results in an extravagant multicourse dinner meticulously curated by top-tier chefs. Each Swank Table event also contributes to a local charity, adding a meaningful dimension to the dining experience.

The evening begins with a refreshing welcome cocktail, courtesy of UNA Vodka and Miami Club Rum, followed by an amuse-bouche to tantalize the taste buds. Attendees can then indulge in a selection of canapés featuring four distinct appetizers crafted by the featured chefs, perfectly paired with bubbles.

Guests are invited to explore the hydroponic grow houses, guided personally by co-owner Darrin Swank, or take a leisurely stroll through the fields, gaining insight into the workings of this bustling farm. The pinnacle of the evening arrives with a delectable five-course plated dinner beneath Swank’s rustic pole barn. Sommelier Jon Wine curates a selection of wines to harmonize with the dishes, while local craft brewers present an array of their specialty beers. Live music from South Florida’s favorite musicians sets the tone for a memorable evening, leaving guests feeling like cherished members of the Swank family.

A stellar chef lineup for this season, Swank Specialty Produce is delighted to welcome Jon Sarmiento as the lead chef liaison, bringing a wealth of experience both on and off the farm. His culinary journey includes stints at renowned establishments such as Cholo Soy and Palm Beach Meats. Joining him are an array of exciting new participating chefs, including South Florida’s own Carlos Garcia from Leku, Brian Nasajon of Beaker & Gray, Akino West from Rosie’s, Chef Moon of Sushi by Bou, Johnny Demartini from Ravish, Huy Hoang from Le Colonial, Warren’s Jen Knox and the esteemed Antonio Bachour. Additionally, the farm will play host to visiting culinary talents Fabian Di Paolo from Shearwater Tavern in California, Jonathan Merry from Riverhouse in Maine and the eagerly anticipated return of Buccan’s Clay Conley.

With this exciting lineup of talent, immersive farm experiences and a thriving Farmers Market, Swank Specialty Produce’s season promises a feast for the senses and a celebration of community spirit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to indulge in the finest flavors of Florida’s bounty. “Tickets for all events are on sale now, so mark your calendars and join us for a season of unforgettable moments on the farm,” co-owner Jodi Swank said.

The season opens with the Fall Harvest Hoe Down on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m., benefiting Beachwood Integrative Equine Therapy, and the Farm Market Asado on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Bak Middle School of the Arts Foundation. Events continue in 2024 with: Running with the Bulls: A Night in Spain on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Dr. Gary Paul Swank Memorial Scholarship and the Foundation for Palm Beach State College; Club Carnival Mardi Gras on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Connections Education Center of the Palm Beaches (be sure to wear Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold and bring your favorite mask!); Bourbon, BBQ and Blues on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. benefiting the Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association Scholarship Fund; Throwback to the ’70s on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Cancer Alliance (wear your favorite bell-bottom jeans, hippie dresses, ’70s wigs and dancing shoes); Street Food: Cultures of Asia on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m., benefiting the Hanley Foundation; She Feasts: A Swank Table Farm Party Celebrating Women Chefs on Sunday, March 24 at 5 p.m., benefiting Spring of Hope; the 13th Annual Vêtu de Blanc: The White Party on Sunday, April 7 at 5 p.m., benefiting the West Palm Beach Library Foundation (come dressed in white and bring candlesticks, candelabras, votives in glass and/or any other candle holder to make the evening sparkle!); and Cooking with Cannabis on Sunday, April 21 at 5 p.m., benefiting Path to College (Swank Farm is a Florida-licensed hemp grower, and the hemp tea is not to be missed).

Swank Farm is also known for its flourishing Farmer’s Market, a celebration of Florida’s rich agricultural tapestry amidst the picturesque Loxahatchee Groves countryside. Taking place every Saturday through May from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., this complimentary market offers an array of farm-fresh lettuces, vegetables, herbs and wildflower bouquets from Swank Farm. Guests can relish live music and explore a diverse range of exceptional goods from 25 local vendors. Shopping is a joy under Swank Farm’s expansive open-air pole barn, providing a delightful experience regardless of the weather. Ample free parking is readily available, ensuring a hassle-free visit. Whether visitors seek to stock up for the week, savor a breakfast sandwich, or simply enjoy coffee and a pastry, the market offers something for everyone.

Swank Specialty Produce is located at 14311 North Road in Loxahatchee Groves. Find details about all events online at www.swankspecialtyproduce.com.


We Have Much To Be Thankful For

We Have Much To Be Thankful For
Our Community Is Very Blessed And Has Plenty To Celebrate This Thanksgiving Season

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

A Time Of Gratitude
Thanksgiving is about gratitude, as well as appreciating and respecting the blessings of the past year. As we begin the holiday season, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone in our community for their support, respect and understanding during the challenging times and good times alike. Your unwavering support, sacrifice and commitment have made our community stronger and demonstrated how resilient Wellington residents are in the face of adversity.

As our nation formed through revolution, the Continental Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving in 1777. In the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November in 1863.

Despite the turbulent era, however, President Lincoln sought to unify the nation during the Civil War by reminding us of the blessings and privileges of our democracy. He issued Presidential Proclamation 106, which made Thanksgiving a formal, annual holiday. In the proclamation, Lincoln acknowledged the wounds left behind by war and appealed for the healing and restoration of the nation. Traditions varied in our country until late 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill fixing the day of recognition as the fourth Thursday in November, beginning in 1942.

This year, I hope we all do the same, as we come together with our loved ones to pause and give thanks for the grace and kindness in our lives. It’s the challenges, after all, that we face as a whole that make us even more grateful during times of joy and abundance.

Reasons To Be Thankful
To the backbone of our community — our first responders, village team members and the Wellington Village Council — thank you for going above and beyond to meet the needs of our community. Your prompt service, courage and sacrifice do not go unnoticed. Your passion for this village continues to make us the benchmark by which other communities are measured.

To our current and former armed forces service members and military families living in Wellington and the western communities, thank you for your service to defend our nation and freedom. Your presence makes our great hometown all that much better and reminds us how blessed we are in Wellington.


Support Our Local Businesses
Next, I am grateful for our local economy, which has been recognized countless times by numerous organizations, despite the challenges present elsewhere in the county and state. As a gentle reminder, I urge you all to please support our local businesses. We have some great local businesses, and equally impressive people running those businesses. When you buy locally, you help stimulate our local economy, create and sustain employment opportunities, and help foster a community that cares about and invests in itself — the definition of resiliency.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember the values and ideals that form the fabric of our great community, state and nation. Let us embrace our differences, celebrate our diverse heritage, and unite in gratitude for the gifts of freedom, family and faith.

This year, Wellington has much for which to be thankful. Our community is thriving, crime is low, property values are rising, tourism is strong, private investment is flourishing and we enjoy an outstanding quality of life. More than 400 years ago, the Pilgrims shared their first harvest with their Native American neighbors. Today, each of us has a responsibility to carry on this tradition of sharing by giving of ourselves to help those in need as we continue to work to build a vibrant, diverse, inclusive and sustainable Wellington.


PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Tell Us Your Wedding Story India and Anthony

PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Tell Us Your Wedding Story  India and Anthony

The air was filled with love and anticipation as India and Anthony Salerno completed their journey toward husband and wife on Aug. 13, 2023. The stage was set, the venue aglow and the hearts of everyone in attendance were warmed by the radiance of their love. This is the enchanting tale of a couple whose paths crossed unexpectedly at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.

India and Anthony’s love story began more than a decade ago, with a chance encounter at the Hard Rock. Little did they know that this chance meeting would set the stage for a love story filled with cherished memories and a beautiful wedding day.

The moment when India knew that Anthony was “the one” came during their romantic vacation to Jamaica, just over a year into their relationship. Anthony later surprised India by taking her back to the very spot where they first met. After a lovely dinner, he got down on one knee and, with heartfelt words, asked India to marry him. It was a moment filled with emotion and love.

Their wedding day was captured by Kristina Karina Photo & Film. The romantic ceremony held at Benvenuto restaurant and event venue was as picturesque as their love story. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests moved to a reception area that exceeded all expectations. The room reveal was a breathtaking moment for India and Anthony as they witnessed their dreams come to life in a beautifully decorated space.

Their first dance as husband and wife was to the soulful melody of “In the Still of the Night (I’ll Remember)” by Boyz II Men, creating a magical moment that echoed their deep love for each other.  DJ Timothy surprised them with a violin solo to start the entertainment portion of the evening. One of the most poignant moments of the day was their private last dance, a cherished memory that will remain etched in their hearts forever. It was a testament to the intimacy and depth of their love.

India wore a special bracelet on her wedding day, a precious heirloom from Anthony’s late grandmother, symbolizing the continuation of family traditions and the blending of their lives.

As they embark on the next chapter of their love story, India and Anthony are eagerly looking forward to their honeymoon in Italy, a journey that promises to be as enchanting as their wedding day.

In the end, their wedding was a testament to the power of love, fate and the beautiful journey that brought India and Anthony together and will be shared as cherished memories for a lifetime.

Said  “I Do”  August 13, 2023


PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Tell Us Your Wedding Story Melissa and Matthew

PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Tell Us Your Wedding Story
Melissa and Matthew

Melissa and Matthew Silverman’s love story began in a tattoo shop, amid the buzz of ink and the scent of antiseptic. From that first conversation, their connection was electric. Despite the distance, their hearts remained intertwined, and it wasn’t long before they both knew they had found something truly special.

In October 2020, on a sun-drenched South Florida beach, Matthew orchestrated a proposal that would forever be etched in Melissa’s memory. Nestled within a conch shell, a glimmering ring awaited its moment. As the waves gently lapped at the shore, he dropped to one knee, sealing their promise with a question and a ring.

Their wedding day, on Oct. 26, 2022, was a testament to their shared journey. Zaitography and VMF Film Company captured every moment, freezing time in a cascade of images and film.

The Baker’s Cay Resort, perched on the shores of Key Largo, bore witness to their union. With the azure sea as their backdrop, Melissa walked down the aisle in a vintage Boho vibe Willowby by Watters gown, adorned with delicate floral embroidery. Beside her stood her Man of Honor, Jarett Rockwerk, and Matthew’s Best Man, Steven Silverman.

Under a sky painted with hues of pink and gold, they exchanged vows, promising to weather life’s storms like the steadfast rocks they were. The reception, held in the Cay View South Ballroom, echoed with laughter and love.

Yet the most poignant moment awaited them after the ceremony. A secluded spot on the resort’s grounds held an arch, a place to seal their love with a lock. Months prior, Matthew had hand-carved their names into a vintage heart-shaped lock. Together, they secured it in place, a symbol of their enduring bond and a promise of their future adventures.

As the sun set over Key Largo, casting the world in shades of tangerine and amethyst, Melissa and Matthew danced their first dance as husband and wife. To the strains of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, they swayed, their hearts beating in sync.

Their honeymoon was spent within the embrace of the resort that bore witness to their love story. Every year, they would return, to trace the lines of their love lock and remember this magical day.

For Melissa and Matthew, their wedding day was more than just a celebration; it was a testament to the strength of their love. Through ink-stained days and sandy shores, they had found their forever in each other. And with their love lock glistening in the Florida sun, they knew that their journey was only just beginning.

Said  “I Do” October 26, 2022


PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Traditions and Trends

PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Traditions and Trends

In the realm of weddings, the interplay between timeless traditions and contemporary trends shapes unforgettable celebrations. One steadfast tradition that endures is the exchange of vows — a heartfelt declaration of commitment. However, in 2024, couples are infusing their ceremonies with personalized touches, creating bespoke experiences that resonate deeply.

One emerging trend is the fusion of cultures, as couples intertwine customs from diverse backgrounds, honoring their heritage in a harmonious union. These inclusive ceremonies celebrate the rich tapestry of love, reflecting the couple’s shared values and individual identities.

In terms of design, a return to understated elegance is prevalent. Neutral color palettes, punctuated with subtle hints of pastels, exude a timeless sophistication. Handcrafted elements, like artisanal stationery and unique favors, infuse the celebration with a personal touch.

Sustainability stands as a prevailing ethos in modern weddings. Couples are embracing eco-conscious choices, from locally sourced, organic cuisine to ethically produced décor. This conscientious approach not only aligns with contemporary values but also crafts a celebration that treads lightly on the planet.

Ultimately, the blend of cherished traditions and innovative trends allows couples to craft weddings that are uniquely their own, resonating with meaning and reflecting the beauty of their shared journey.

On these pages, Wellington The Magazine shares some of our favorite traditions and trends — perhaps some that you will incorporate into your wedding day!

Champagne Towers
Champagne towers have forever symbolized joyous occasions, and they are poised to make a dazzling return in 2023 and 2024. Elevate your reception by adorning it with a magnificent display of champagne glasses, creating effervescent cascades that encapsulate the epitome of opulence and sophistication.

Audio Guestbooks
Bid farewell to those conventional guestbooks! Audio guestbooks are emerging as a distinctive trend, enabling guests to convey heartfelt messages and well wishes through their recorded voices. This interactive and intimate gesture imbues your wedding memories with an additional layer of sentimentality.

Entirely Vegan Menus
While including a vegan option on wedding menus has been a standard practice for years, we are now seeing more people committing to an entirely vegan menu. A growing number of couples are favoring plant-based choices as their main culinary focus due to the creativity and delectable offerings available.

Something Blue
The tradition of wearing something blue remains timeless. Brides are using this hue to enhance classic white bridal attire. What sets this trend apart from earlier interpretations of “something blue” is that these blue elements are a part of the primary ceremonial look, rather than being reserved as a reception accessory.

Small Bouquet
Pinterest trends indicate a shift toward petite bridal bouquets, replacing the opulent, lavish arrangements of years past. These exquisite, hand-held bouquets feature delicate blooms such as lily, lilac, astilbe and lavender. Despite their elegant appearance, these cut flowers also offer a practical advantage.

Coastal Chic
While beach weddings have long held their popularity, 2024 will see coastal chic weddings stepping into the spotlight. These weddings artfully combine refined nautical elements, understated coastal embellishments and breezy color palettes. Soft blues, sandy neutrals and sea-inspired accents come together to cultivate a relaxed, yet refined atmosphere.

Smoke Mines
Smoke mines have become the hottest trend that many brides are eagerly embracing. This newfound sensation, catapulted to fame through viral TikTok videos, represents the pinnacle of wedding wow factor. Whether in search of a stunning ceremony finale or a daytime grand entrance or exit, smoke mines provide the full spectacle of fireworks in broad daylight!

360 Photo Booth
The hottest trend in wedding photography is the 360-degree photo booth! Unlike traditional setups, this cutting-edge creation captures dynamic, panoramic shots from every angle, providing an immersive experience for couples and guests. It’s a fun, interactive way to add a modern twist to your wedding memories. Get ready to share your special day in a whole new dimension!

Multicultural Celebrations
Gone are the days of settling for a single set of ceremony traditions. Today’s couples embrace inclusivity by weaving together facets of their respective cultures or religions to craft a distinctive ceremony that reflects both familial sides. It’s important that everyone involved in the execution, including the chosen venue, is informed about the traditions you intend to incorporate

Bridesmaid Dress Colors
Whether your taste leans toward soft and neutral tones or bold and vibrant hues, 2024 offers a spectrum of options for every bride. From lively palettes to sustainable touches, and even the allure of destination weddings, the choices are boundlessly inspiring. Notably, various shades of green, classic black and vivid colors are emerging as popular selections for bridesmaid dresses.

Next-Level Roof Styling 
Elevate your wedding experience with a beautifully styled roof canopy for your reception. Envision enchanting hanging floral arrangements, captivating lighting designs and cascading drapery in soft, luxurious fabrics. This exquisite addition will transform your celebration into a truly enchanting affair from the floor below to the unique canopy overhead!


PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Q&A Capturing Your Unique Wedding Story

PALM BEACH BRIDES 2023: Q& A  Capturing Your Unique Wedding Story

The right wedding photographer will provide the happy couple with memories to last a lifetime. Communication with your wedding photographer is crucial to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that your special day is captured beautifully for all time. To learn more about hiring a professional wedding photographer, we spoke to Frank Koester of Through These Eyes Photography, who works alongside his wife, Erica.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into wedding photography, and how long have you been doing it?
 A: I began my journey in photography back in 1998. I was working for a company on Long Island doing children’s sports portraits. We did outdoor and indoor locations. After a few months of working there, I convinced my wife to come along on the photo shoots. She learned quickly and began taking team photos. I also began working for the New York Daily News, Newsday and a bunch of other newspapers. It was fun and exciting meeting so many people and being some place different every day. This is also the foundation of photographing weddings. One of the papers had a section called Down the Aisle. It featured two couples each week. No other photographers wanted to cover these assignments, but I enjoyed meeting the couples and hearing their stories. This was really where I first began in the wedding industry. Two years later, I began shooting weddings on my own and loved them. I was the only working journalist who also did wedding photography as well. It makes for a unique and interesting take on wedding photography, blended with journalism and storytelling. My wife and I are going into our 15th year of capturing couples’ love stories.

Q: How would you describe your photography style?
A: It’s definitely a unique style, since my background is in journalism. I’ve been a photojournalist in the media for more than 20 years, and that storytelling style of shooting easily carried over to telling a couple’s wedding story. Just as each couple is unique, so is their wedding story. I would have to say our style is a mix of editorial/storytelling.

Q: How far in advance do you recommend that couples book photography services for their wedding?|
A: The recommended time to book your photographer in most cases is about 18 months out. We are a husband-and-wife team and only book one wedding per weekend.  We want to be able to focus our full attention on you and your day. We also do not subcontract out weddings. Meaning, once you book us, that date is blocked for you, and it will be my wife and I who show up. We have had people book in less time when we have had openings.

Q: What are some of the different photography packages that you offer, and what do they include?
A: We like to keep things simple. We offer hourly rates for mini weddings. We also have packages to cover 6 to 8 hours. We are very flexible and can cater packages to the needs of the couple. All the packages include all the edited images and an online gallery, so you can share them easily with friends and family. We also have a photo booth, which can be added to any package or booked separately.

Q: What are some of the more unique locations that you have done wedding photography? Are there any particular types of wedding venues that you prefer?
A: We did a few weddings at the top of Whiteface Mountain in New York, an island wedding on the cliffs in St. Thomas, and another on a dairy farm complete with cows. We love and specialize in those intimate, unique wedding locations. Those are really our favorites, and you can instantly see how the setting reflects the couple’s personality.

Q: Do you often travel to photograph weddings?
A: When we lived in New York, we traveled most weekends   to different locations, mainly in and around upstate. Now that we live in Florida, we mainly stick to Florida’s east coast. Yet we are always open to destination weddings in new and exciting locations.

Q: Do you offer video services? If so, what type?
A:  We do offer video. My wife and I work closely with a videographer who also comes from a storyteller/media background. Their creative philosophy is much like ours, believing every couple is unique, and each wedding is its very own story. Being a boutique service, they also book limited weddings.

Q: What are some of the current trends in wedding photography?
A: I am seeing now a lot of people like “posed” candid pictures. It’s not uncommon for a couple to send me some images they found online and ask me to recreate them. I do tell them yes, we can, but are you looking for another couples’ photos to represent your wedding or do we want to capture you in your story, something that is unique and special? After they have had some time to reflect on what I am suggesting, they turn away from the photos they found or narrow it down to just a few, and then want images which will be their own.

Q: What kind of equipment do you typically bring with you?
A: We use all professional cameras and lenses. We also bring external lighting for any locations that may be dark. Aside from the equipment, we are also fully insured, which is something many venues require. A couple should always ask about this to any vendor they hire before giving them any money.

Q: How do clients receive their photography after the wedding? Do you work with them on traditional photography books? What are today’s couples looking for as keepsakes?
A: After their wedding, we send the couples a download link, and they can save the files to a hard drive. Sadly, we do not get many requests for albums anymore. Everyone wants the photos to post on social media, so we provide social ready images with all our packages. I hope the trend turns back to albums because they really are a family keepsake. The albums we make are custom designed, so no two albums look the same, as we don’t use premade templates. We also print our albums in house, so the couple can be part of the creative process.

Q: How can clients book you for their wedding celebration?
A: The best way to book us is to give us a call at (516) 532-8487 or send us an e-mail at fkoesterphoto@aol.com so we can talk about the details and get to know each other. During that first conversation, we also let the couple know that they get a complimentary engagement photo session.

Q: Why do you offer complimentary engagement photo sessions?|
A: We love engagement photo sessions because it gives us a chance to get to know one another in a relaxed environment. Many people have never been photographed professionally and can be nervous in front of the camera with a stranger. Your wedding day should never be the first time you meet your photographer. Engagement sessions let us get to know one another, have fun and build a relationship. Come your wedding day, we already know each other, and the photos come naturally.

Learn more about wedding photographers Frank and Erica Koester at www.throughtheseeyes-koester.com


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