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  • Tara Crutchfield

Best of Haven 2022 - Arts & Entertainment



BEST PARK

CHAIN OF LAKES DOWNTOWN TRAILHEAD PARK

684 4th St NW, Winter Haven

(863) 291-5600

Were you looking for something fun and free to do with the kids? Take them to Trailhead Park! This well-maintained Downtown Winter Haven park is a family favorite with its large playground and splash pad. The park has plenty of parking, easily accessible bathrooms, and picnic tables to enjoy lunch during a play break (if you can break the kids away from the splash pad). Chain of Lakes Downtown Trailhead Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

2nd: Central Park in Downtown Winter Haven

3rd: Downtown City Park in Auburndale


BEST GOLF COURSE

CYPRESSWOOD GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

1099 Clubhouse Rd, Winter Haven

(863) 324-6174

FB @cypresswoodcc

IG @cypresswoodgolfcourse

It’s another hole-in-one for Cypress Golf & Country Club! This repeat Best Of Haven winner is an 18-hole championship golf course designed by award-winning designer Ron Garl. In addition to the course, Cypresswood has a putting green, chipping green, and driving range and is open to the public year-round from sunrise to sunset. After a day on the course, grab lunch at Cypresswood Pub and make a trip to the pro shop.

2nd: The Country Club of Winter Haven

3rd: Willowbrook Golf Course


BEST DANCE STUDIO

THE WRIGHT STEP SCHOOL OF DANCE

316 Ave C SW, Winter Haven

(863) 294-5300

FB: The Wright Step School of Dance

IG @thewrightstepschoolofdance

With three studios spanning 5000 square feet, complete with specialized wood flooring, and instructors trained in all dance styles, you know this Winter Haven dance studio is doing it Wright! The Wright Step School of Dance is a multi-genre dance studio opened in 2001 by Amy and Kevin Wright. “Faculty are industry professionals with a heart for sharing their love of our art!” The Wright Step Xtreme Team, founded in 2004, is a team of about 70 dancers from ages 5-18. In addition to their community outreach, the Xtreme Team has won numerous “Entertainment” awards, “Judges Choice” awards, and national overall placements.

2nd: Your Haven Dance Company

3rd: Barbara’s Centre’ For Dance


BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

GROVE ROOTS BREWING COMPANY

302 3rd St SW, Winter Haven

(863) 291-0700

FB @groverootsbrewing

IG @groverootsbrewing

It’s all about the beers and bands, baby! Sip the Best Of Haven winner for Best Polk County Beer, 6AM Pickers, while listening to a local musician pick the guitar. The atmosphere at Grove Roots is relaxed and community-oriented. Pint-loving patrons can expect cold craft brews, unique food trucks, ample places to hang out indoors and outside, and live music ranging from solo acts to full bands. Follow Grove Roots’ social media to see who will be playing that week. You may even catch this year’s Best Of Haven winner Daniel Pepin shredding his guitar there!

2nd: Gram Parsons Derry Down

3rd: Jessie’s Lounge


BEST MUSEUM

MUSEUM OF WINTER HAVEN HISTORY

660 Pope Ave NW, Winter Haven

(863) 206-6855

FB @WinterHavenHistory

If you’re curious about Winter Haven’s fascinating history, from citrus to Cypress Gardens, check out the Museum of Winter Haven History. This nonprofit museum features historical displays and memorabilia, including photos, films, and objects directly related to the history of Winter Haven, Florida. The museum opened in 2006 and is located at the Women’s Club on Lake Howard. They welcome donations of historic artifacts and also have the ability to scan photographs or printed pieces that individuals may want to retain.

2nd: Polk Museum of Art

3rd: Explorations V Children’s Museum


BEST MURAL

“HAVEN” 2021 BY GILLIAN FAZIO

343 Ave. C SW, Winter Haven

FB: Gillian Fazio Art

IG @gfazioart

The “Haven” mural located on the back wall of the Alan L. Ulch building depicts the word “HAVEN” in crisp white letters with a butterfly atop the “A.” It is backdropped by mirror-still water dotted with lily pads and pink and white water lilies. In an interview with WFTS Tampa Bay, artist Gillian Fazio said, “I just wanted to make something that makes everybody feel happy and uplifted whenever they see the wall. So all my work tends to have like bright colors, fun patterns and some aspect of nature.” The mural is dedicated, “In loving memory of Mary Lou Ulch.”

2nd: “Lady on the Wall” in Winter Haven by Kenneth Treister and William Larence

3rd: “Slice of Happiness” in Lake Wales by Gillian Fazio


BEST VISUAL ARTIST

GILLIAN FAZIO

FB: Gillian Fazio Art

IG @gfazioart

Gillian Fazio is no stranger to the Best Of Haven winners list. Her “Haven” mural took first place this year for Best Mural, and she won Best Visual Artist last year. Her talent can be seen in colorful, nature-inspired pieces around Polk County, like in the “Create” mural at Catapult in Lakeland or the oranges and butterflies in “Slice of Happiness” in Lake Wales. A Lakeland native, Fazio graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors’ Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Florida in 2017. Fazio has painted over 20 murals across Central Florida from Tampa to Anna Maria Island and describes herself as a “new age flora and fauna artist.”

2nd: William Larence

3rd: Trent Manning


BEST PHOTOGRAPHER

MIKE POTTHAST | POTTHAST STUDIOS

234 W Central Ave, Winter Haven

(863) 294-4920

FB: Potthast Studios

IG @potthaststudios

Mike Potthast and his team offer professional photography services, including portraits, commercial photography, video production, photo restorations, digitizing services, passport photos, and photography classes in his spacious Central Avenue studio. According to Potthast Studios, “Putting together a great photo shoot is about much more than just lights, camera, action. We understand it takes coordination, communication, talented design, and styling before the shoot, and talent behind the camera, to make it all come together.” One five-star review confirms their commitment to exceptional photography, reading in part, “Fantastic customer service and fantastic photographs! From my first phone call with Mike to the excellent photography session and then the fantastic final product, everything was professional and excellent.”

2nd: Gonzalez Lugo Photography

3rd: Mikey Beasley | Caloosa Media


BEST BAND/MUSICIAN

DANIEL PEPIN

FB: Dan Pepin’s Music Page

YouTube: Daniel Pepin

SoundCloud: Daniel John Pepin

From stadiums and dive bars to the Ritz Theatre and Haven Coffee Roasters, Daniel Pepin is a crowd-pleaser no matter what stage he’s on. After listening to his grandmother’s Eights Days a Week record, Pepin was hooked. His natural talent and lessons with one of New England’s most famous guitar instructors, Steven Kirby, eventually led him to start a band called The Letdown (now The Mighty Letdown). A virtuoso on the Spanish guitar, Pepin regularly performs across Central Florida, including the Winter Haven Farmers Market and Swan Brewing. He also performs with Classic Rock Legacy.

2nd: B.Haven

3rd: The Free Whiskey Band


BEST LOCAL MAKER

CALYPSO’S ON CENTRAL

220 W Central Ave, Winter Haven

(863) 662-3114

FB: Calypso’s on Central - Home Remedy Winter Haven

You may have known them as Home Remedy, but their clients know them as the place for all things natural, alternative health, and home care! Now called Calypso’s on Central, this one-stop-alt-shop offers high-quality CBD products sourced from the mountains of Colorado, Lucy Minerals Mineral Makeup (which they acquired in 2020), organic herbs and teas, healing stones, essential oils, hair products, gift items, and much more! Calypso’s also partners with local vendors to offer artwork, goat milk soap, soy candles, and local raw honey.

2nd: Open Door Wellness

3rd: Anna Clayton Jewelry

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