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Ava Csiszar’s free beach yoga classes have been drawing steady participation on Siesta Key Public Beach. File photo.
Siesta Key Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 6 years ago

Island Beat: Season brings a number of fundraisers back to the Key

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Benny Kimsey’s bluegrass picnics are back.

When the economic downturn began in 2007, Kimsey had to stop holding his semi-annual events at Turtle Beach.

Last week, he told me he is starting them again this November. In fact, his first renewal of the bluegrass picnic will be held Sunday Nov. 12, the same weekend as the second Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sandsculpting Competition, which will be on Siesta Public Beach.

The event is free, but the Southwest Florida Red Cross will be the beneficiary of any donations. The money will go into the organization’s hurricane relief fund. American Red Cross volunteers will be on hand with information about the work the organization does.

Kimsey has lined up two bands along with his own, The Siesta Key Boys. The Skeeterland Band, composed of full-time Southwest Florida residents, plays both bluegrass and gospel music. It features Peter Popravak on guitar and vocals; Doug Ibbetson on banjo and vocals; Ed Pintado on standup bass; and Silvia Medina on mandolin and vocals.

Carl Wade & Something Special performs bluegrass with a country music flavor. Wade is a guitarist/vocalist originally from Boston. His fellow band members are Barbara Shaffer, a mandolin player; Rick Ferriss, a bassist/vocalist; and Judd Taylor, a fiddler/mandolin player/flat-pick guitarist.

Kimsey says the other members of The Siesta Key Boys are friends who “play and put up with me.”

“They’re doing it for free,” he said of all the performers. “They’re doing it for the cause.”

The flyer Kimsey is distributing says the “picking and grinning” will begin around noon and conclude about 4:30 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to bring sack lunches and chairs. A limited supply of bottled water will be available.

The bands will be performing in the Turtle Beach Pavilion. Picnic tables are on site. In fact, the county over the past year has added a number of new amenities to that beach.

“I used to do one (fundraiser) in November and (one) at the end of February,” Kimsey said, starting in 2003. “My job, all summer long, has been building (a) website” about the renewal of the picnics, he added.

The website abounds with information about the bands. It is For more information, you also may email [email protected].

Kimsey said he really hopes he can build the event back up to the status it previously held. I think his prospects are good. Kimsey was my landlord for a 14-month period on the Key, and I can say I haven’t met anyone with a bigger heart than his.

Cure Cara event planned
Another well-known fundraising event on the Key is planned for 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 11, at The Beach Club, 5151 Ocean Blvd.

Called Cure Cara, the event is designed to raise funds for 11-year-old Cara Bodziak, who was diagnosed juvenile dermatomyositis, an extremely rare autoimmune disorder. The disease attacks the skin and muscles and causes extreme fatigue. No cure has been found; physicians treat it generally with steroids and chemotherapy.

Cara has been undergoing treatment for several years at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. All proceeds from the event will go into a trust fund set to pay Cara’s bills.

This will be the fifth year the Beach Club has hosted the fundraiser. Last year, family members report, the fundraiser brought in about $12,000. Admission is $5. Free food will be provided, and Rising Tide will perform. Raffles and both a silent and a live auction will round out the activities.

Contributions still are welcome for the silent auction. Anyone wishing to help may contact Carla Kennedy at 587-4869 or Kristine Castellana at 809-0283.

For more information on Cara, visit

Yoga yo-yoing
Yoga aficionado Olga Antoniuk recently emailed Carolyn Brown, general manager of the Parks and Recreation Department for Sarasota County, to complain that the Yoga on the Beach sessions on Siesta Public Beach no longer would be held on Saturdays starting in October.

Antoniuk had pointed out that many of the Saturday class members were women who worked during the week. Therefore, she added, the weekday classes would be drawing primarily tourists, retirees and under- or unemployed people.

Brown responded she had granted approval for the classes to continue on Saturdays; however, instructor Ava Csiszar had elected to change the class days to Monday through Friday.

Save Barry
Clayton Thompson, owner of Clayton’s Siesta Grille on Old Stickney Point Road, put out word last week that “Barry the Wonder Dog” had lost his home and his owner and was desperate to find a new place to live.

The 16-month-old canine “doesn’t poop, bark or get in the way,” Thompson wrote in a Sept. 28 email.

The first family to offer Barry a home would get a free meal at Clayton’s, Thompson wrote. Anyone interested may call Thompson at 586-5890.

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