Raise a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and toast former Tampa Bay Times columnist Jeff Klinkenberg. This week, he was announced as one of three 2018 winners of the Florida Folk Heritage Awards.
The awards honor outstanding folk artists and folk culture advocates who have made long-standing contributions to the folk cultural resources of the state, according to a release from Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
For almost four decades, Klinkenberg’s Real Florida columns often warmly depicted the state’s people, from the Highwaymen painters to Tarpon Springs sponge divers, from cattle ranchers to carnival workers.
In an email, Klinkenberg wrote, "I’m thrilled. Previous inductees have been artists, writers, musicians and Florida culture advocates I’ve always admired, including Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Stetson Kennedy.
"I wrote these stories as well as I could for a long time and I took the job, and the subject of Florida, seriously. I think we all should strive for a higher purpose than winning awards, but damn, it’s nice when it happens. I picked the wrong century to stop drinking!"
In April, the University Press of Florida will publish Klinkenberg’s seventh book, Son of Real Florida, which combines his personal history with wide-ranging essays about the state’s people, places, pleasures and peculiarities.
The other recipients of the 2018 heritage award are Marshall Davis, director of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Miami, and Pedro Bullaudy, salsa musician and Orquestra Infinidad bandleader in Clearwater. Awards will be presented to the recipients in a ceremony at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Jan. 24.
Contact Colette Bancroft at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.