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Contact: Chris Cate

Secretary Detzner Honors Florida Heritage Month Award Winners

Awards ceremony begins tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner will honor Florida’s Heritage Month Award winners at a ceremony tomorrow at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. The 10th annual Florida Heritage Month Awards ceremony is part of a month-long celebration from March 15 to April 15, recognizing Floridians who have made contributions to the state in historic preservation, literature, folk heritage, public service, the arts and entertainment.

"Florida Heritage Award winners are uniquely talented individuals who help make our state a tremendous cultural destination," said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. "By recognizing these great cultural talents and the arts they represent, we hope to promote how arts and culture can create economic vitality, enhance quality of life and instill community pride."

The 2013 Florida Heritage Month Awards ceremony is a free event. The Viva Florida 500-themed ceremony includes Florida Folk Heritage Awards, Secretary of State Historic Preservation Awards, Florida Book Awards and the induction of artists into the 2013 Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame is the highest cultural honor that the state can bestow upon an individual.

Florida Heritage Month Awards Event Information:

DATE:          March 20, 2013
TIME:           Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the ceremony expected to last from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Mission San Luis
                     2100 West Tennessee Street
                     Tallahassee, Florida, 32304

10th Annual Florida Heritage Month Award Winners:

Florida Folk Heritage Awards

  • Laurence Cutts (Chipley) – Laurence Cutts is a third-generation beekeeper who was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2012. He has been Florida’s Chief Apiary Inspector and was instrumental in a statewide effort to reduce beehive losses caused by varroa mites and small-hive beetles. Mr. Cutts recently invented the Beetle Blaster, an improved trap for the small-hive beetle, and continues to raise queens, keep bees, teach workshops, and promote beekeeping worldwide.
  • Reverend O.L. Samuels (Tallahassee) – Reverend O. L. Samuels is a visionary, self-taught artist and sculptor who carves animals, biblical figures, mythical creatures and more out of wood, which he ornaments with paint, metal, fabric, and found objects. He began working with wood as a small child. His work has been featured worldwide, including at the White House, Smithsonian American Museum of Art and the Arkansas Museum of Art.
  • Neri Torres (Miami) – Neri Torres is one of the state’s most highly regarded traditional dancers, and has served as the principal dancer and choreographer for Gloria Estefan. Ms. Torres was instilled with a passion for Afro-Cuban dance traditions by her family and numerous other musicians who practiced in their home in Havana, Cuba. She is also the founder of IFE-ILE, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and cultivation of Afro-Cuban culture and folklore, known especially for the annual IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance Festival in Miami.

Secretary of State Historic Preservation Awards

  • Senator Bob Williams Public Employee Award
    • Roger C. Smith, Ph.D. (Tallahassee) – Dr. Roger Smith has served as the State Underwater Archaeologist for the Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Archaeological Research since 1987. He has worked to bring the importance of maritime heritage to the attention of the public by partnering with waterfront communities throughout Florida to establish 11 Historic Shipwreck Preserves, develop Florida’s Maritime Heritage Trail, and record the sites of 13 shipwrecks in the Florida Keys to establish the 1733 Spanish Galleon Trail. He is the author of three books, as well as numerous academic journal articles, and popular magazine features.
  • Mary Call Darby Collins Volunteer Award
    • Kenneth R. Smith, FAIA (Jacksonville) – Kenneth Smith, FAIA, is a Jacksonville architect who has designed numerous restoration projects of Florida’s historically significant sites, including Florida’s first contemporary lighthouse restoration of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. He has received 39 design awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation since 1987 in recognition of his preservation work on historic buildings around the state, and was awarded The Henry John Klutho Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement by the Jacksonville Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2010. He was elevated to fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 2000.

Florida Book Awards

  • Children’s Literature
    • Unspoken by Henry Cole (Florida/Virginia) – Henry Cole has illustrated more than 80 popular picture books, including the multimillion-selling Moose series and other bestsellers.
  • Young Adult
    • Counting backwards by Laura Lascarso (North Florida) – Laura Lascarso’s debut novel is Counting Backwards. She lives in north Florida with her husband, two children, three chickens, and a dog named Lucy.
  • Popular Fiction
    • The Tenth Saint by D.J. Niko (West Palm Beach) – D.J. Niko is the nom de plume of Daphne Nikolopoulos, the editor-in-chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of the Palm Beach Media Group.
  • General Fiction
    • Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (Boston/Florida’s Gulf Coast) – Dennis Lehane is the author of nine previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; and Shutter Island.
  • Poetry
    • In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys by Campbell McGrath (Miami) – Campbell McGrath has won the Kingsley Tufts Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. He teaches in the creating writing program at Florida International University.
  • Visual Arts
    • Weeki Wachee Mermaids by Lu Vickers (Florida) and Bonnie Georgiadis (Tarpon Springs) – In addition to her novel Breathing Underwater, Lu Vickers has published Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids, a History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractios; and Cypress Garden, America’s Tropical Wonderland. Bonnie Georgiadis began at Weeki Wachee in 1953 when she was 17 years old and has wrote and choreographed seven underwater shows.
  • General Non-fiction
    • The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era by Michael Grunwald (Florida) – Michael Grunwald is a senior national correspondent for Time magazine. He has won the George Polk Award for national reporting, the Worth Bingham Award for investigative reporting, and numerous other prizes. He has also written The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and Politics of Paradise.
  • Florida Non-fiction
    • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (New York, NY) – Gilbert King has written about U.S. Supreme Court history for the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South.
  • Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing
    • Enid Shomer (Tampa) – Enid Shomer’s work has been collected in more than 50 anthologies and textbooks, including Best American Poetry and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. For her book Imaginary Men, she received the Iowa Fiction and the LSU/Southern Review Prizes for the best first collection of short fiction by an American. She received the Gold Medal in Fiction from the State of Florida for Tourist Season and the Washington Prize for Stalking the Florida Panther. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The Paris Review and many other places.

Florida Artists Hall of Fame

  • Gloria Estefan: Singer/Recording Artist (Miami) – In 1976, Gloria Estefan began her career as a lead singer for the Miami Sound Machine, a popular local Miami band performing at nightclubs, festivals and cultural events. Now a multiple Grammy award-winner, Ms. Estefan enjoys a worldwide reputation as a prominent recording artist and film actor. Her contributions to the Florida community include many hurricane relief concerts, AIDS research benefits, and her well-known advocacy work to strengthen Florida boating safety regulations.
  • Frank Thomas: Songwriter/Folk Balladeer (Lake Wales) – Frank Thomas is known as the dean of Florida Folk Music. He has received the Florida Folk Heritage Award, Jullian Prescott History Award, Florida Historical Society Golden Quill Award, the Stetson Kennedy Foundation Fellow Man & Mother Earth Award, and a state resolution honoring him from former Governor Lawton Chiles. Thomas’s original Florida songs have been performed for decades in every part of the state and on radio. His reputation includes being the patriarch of balladeers at the state’s annual heritage celebration, the Florida Folk Festival, where he showcases the state’s finest songwriters.
  • Laura Woodward: Painter (Palm Beach) – One of Florida’s most important Nineteenth Century woman artists, and one of the earliest and greatest publicists of Florida as a “tropical paradise,” Laura Woodward changed the course of history in Florida by influencing Henry Flagler’s choice of resort location with her ideas and naturalistic paintings of the Palm Beach area. She raised awareness of Florida before the time of color photography by exhibiting her works widely, thus promoting tourism to the state. Prior to moving to Florida, Ms. Woodward was an acclaimed Hudson River School Artist and among the most distinguished of American women artists painting at that time. She was also one of the very first professional artists to paint natural images in the wild areas of the Everglades.

On display at the awards ceremony will be a Viva Florida 500 retablo (photo attached) by artist Nicario Jiménez, a former Heritage Award Winner who donated the retablo today in honor of Florida’s 500th anniversary. The retablo, a portable wooden box with handcrafted figures, highlights Native Americans, the arrival of Ponce de Leon, the cultural traditions of the state’s varied Latino communities, Florida’s agricultural industry and Florida’s natural beauty.

Residents and visitors can find more information about Florida Heritage Month and related events at

About Viva Florida 500

Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, to highlight the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513. While Florida’s Native American heritage dates back more than 12,000 years, Spain’s claim in 1513 began a new era in a place where the world’s cultures began to unite and transform into the great nation we know today as the United States of America. The Viva Florida 500 commemoration is ongoing throughout 2013, and includes more than 300 events statewide. For more information, visit