By: Sarah Blizzard Robinson

Meeting up for lunch at The Barn at Hope Farm with the dynamic event coordinator, Tonya Dalhaus, was an exciting hour for both of us. We discovered we have a mutual friend, Heather Mitchell, a sketch artist. 

Mitchell and I became friends many years ago when we both lived in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I’ve kept up with her ever since she relocated to Pensacola with her husband, Bud. The talented artist has sketched all of our pets and has been supportive of this writer’s memoir for over five years now. 

Though our mutual friend Heather gave us a starting point, I was instantly drawn to Dalhaus’ enthusiasm for Books By The Bay, an inaugural event, featuring all things books. A wide range of genres will be included. Fiction, nonfiction, biography, mystery, fantasy, poetry, memoir, and of course, their authors, the poets, and in many cases, their presentations are all being planned.

In addition, Panel Discussions, a Literary Walking Tour, and Youth Author readings will take place. African American Heritage Society’s Readers Ensemble will perform, plus a Storytelling Circle and Children’s Story Time.  

“Our event will run from 10-4 on Saturday, March 23rd at the Museum Plaza, 120 Church Street, in historic downtown Pensacola. We have an incredible line-up for the entire day. Authors and their books will be available outdoors, with reading performances on the Main Stage. Two adjacent buildings will be housing indoor events: the Bowden Building classrooms, and The Voices of Pensacola building.”

Asking the proverbial question, “Are you a writer?” Dalhaus filled me in on her background. And yes, by all means, she’s a writer. “I’ve journaled for many years. I also have a children’s book in the works. There is the most incredible support for writers of every genre in our Emerald Coast Writers Group,” a network of writers Dalhaus discovered when she settled in Northwest Florida. 

“What first piqued my interest in the area, and a most pleasant surprise, was to find turquoise waters and white, sandy beaches in Pensacola, Florida. I’m from New Hampshire. I’ve been all over and did stand-up comedy in Boston. I moved here from Colorado.” If she’d discovered Fairhope before she found Pensacola, she said she might have moved there first. Must’ve been the company at lunch. Or maybe it was lunch at The Barn.

Dalhaus and her husband recently discovered coastal Mississippi, too, and she was far from disappointed. The preconceived notions of the Deep South, the misconceptions, are undeserved. “I love it here. Pensacola has drawn me with its beauty, but mostly its people, the friendliest I’ve ever met. The arts community is amazing, supportive of every person, every writing style, and our group, Emerald Coast Writers, is so excited to be showcasing the best talent around.”  

Books by the Bay is what can easily be described as Dalhaus’ “baby”, though you might be interested to know that her other babies are pet chickens, inspiring her soon-to-be-published children’s book. “I have two pet chickens in my home, in diapers. They’re intelligent and loyal. My main gal, “Botl” has 3000 followers on Instagram.” You can follow her (them) on

Someone with as wide a variety of interests as Dalhaus is sure to bring an eclectic mix of presentations to Pensacola’s Museum Plaza. This writer’s book, the memoir AS A RESULT, as well as Fairhopian author Janet Wiggins’ children’s book, Miss Millicent Monarch, will be available at the same table in the plaza. Come see us on the 23rd!

From the press release, “Featured speakers include well-known graphic novelist John Patrick Green, young adult author Ginny Myers Sain of Dark and Shallow Lies, historical novelist Paula Lenor Webb of Such a Woman, and Asia Samson, the highest booked college poetry act in the market. Additionally, twenty-one notable authors will give presentations and readings throughout the day.” Yours truly, included. 

Come see us, and I’ll sign your copy of my memoir, AS A RESULT.

Children are welcome to participate in story times, craft-making, and adding their exuberance to the event.

Mar 13, 2024
Artsy Side Of Life

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