The Spring Hill Art League's 35th annual Fall Harvest of Art will be a bit of a homecoming.
This weekend's two-day festival, known for its diverse forms of artistic expression, will be moving back to its original home at the Spring Hill Community Association's Lake House on Kenlake Avenue.
With its oak-canopied paths and large performance stage, the spacious venue could once again become the perfect spot for an event that has had trouble finding a permanent home, said club president Isabelle Papazian.
"It's a very charming place, and it fits very well for what we need," Papazian said. "We're hoping to hold onto it for a while."
For years, the crafts festival has had a nomadic existence, finding temporary residences in a shopping center parking lot, a retirement community — even behind the Spring Hill waterfall on Spring Hill Drive. But no matter where it was held, art lovers turned out to support the event.
Papazian believes that with a little weather luck, this year's event, which is expected to draw about 55 exhibitors, could well return it to its heyday of a few years ago, when it drew about 6,000 visitors over the weekend.
"When we held it at Weeki Wachee, we drew very good crowds," she said. "People enjoyed the atmosphere, and it was such a pleasant way to spend the day."
However, after four successful years at Weeki Wachee Springs, park management told organizers they would have to find a new site for last year's event. The move to the Outlet Shopping Mall parking lot in Spring Hill was a disappointment. A lack of visibility from the road and logistical problems limited attendance.
Artists complained that visitor traffic was poorly directed in the parking lot. Many had no more than a few customers come by their booths.
"It wasn't the right place to us," said club vice president Esther Pohl.
Pohl said that the spaciousness of the Lake House site will make it easier on artists and visitors.
"It's got everything you need to put on an event like we're doing," she said. "Not only will we have ample room for the artists, we'll have a big separate area for kids' activities."
Organizers say that other than inclement weather, the biggest worry is how the ailing economy will affect attendance.
"I'm optimistic," Papazian said. "We're very close to the holidays right now, and this is a great time for people to buy something unique to give as a gift. Good art isn't as expensive as many people think it is."
The event is free to the public and will include entertainment on the Palmwood Stage and a number of food and beverage vendors.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.