Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville's first Blueberry Festival a hit; now let's improve it

Hooray, for the Blueberry Festival!

Three cheers for the organizers, especially Michael Heard, who worked countless hours putting the event together.

Many thanks to the volunteers who donated time and the businesses and organizations that gave cash, billboard space or a long list of other goods and services.

Praise and gratitude are in order because there's no question the festival did what it was supposed to do — expose thousands of out-of-towners to Brooksville's brick streets, courthouse, pretty old houses, stores and restaurants.

Still, it was a first-year event, and first years are for learning. And based on my trips to the festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — and on my conversations with attendees, vendors and organizers — here's what I would do differently next year:

Can the Berry Bucks. This was the confusing, inconvenient, commerce-inhibiting currency sold dollar for dollar by the festival to those in attendance. You might have noticed, however, that these bucks didn't quite spend like the real thing. That's because, besides charging food vendors a $500 deposit and an extra $125 for electricity, the festival skimmed 20 percent of all Berry Bucks revenue, a cost that, naturally, the vendors passed on to customers, which explained, for example, the $7 bowls of chowder.

Better and more local vendors. That clam chowder, from Tony's Seafood Restaurant in Cedar Key, was actually one of the best offerings. Mostly I saw a lot of carnival food. Where, with the exception of a taco-dispensing vehicle that made a cameo on Friday evening, were those gourmet food trucks we hear so much about these days? (Maybe at last weekend's Taste of Pinellas or the competing food truck rally.) Where were representatives of the county's landmark restaurants?

More blueberries. The star of the show was in surprisingly short supply. You had to hunt them down. How about a centrally located tent where local growers could rent space at a rate low enough to encourage their attendance, where they could talk about their crop and the magic worked by agricultural scientists in Gainesville that made the entire industry feasible in Florida.

They could sell fresh blueberries, blueberry muffins, blueberry pies, blueberry smoothies, tablecloths embroidered with images of blueberries — anything to remind people this is, after all, a Blueberry Festival.

Better musical acts. Remember all the fuss about Hernando Park, its tennis courts and trees? It all could have been avoided because the place was deserted most of the weekend. Attendees, it turned out, weren't eager to spend an extra $10 for bands that weren't much better or better known than the ones playing for free on the street corners. The exception, Heard told me, was the Friday night performance by a Journey tribute band.

And if that's all it takes to pack them in. ...

I liked those bands on the corners, by the way. Liked it that most of the people I talked to enjoyed their visit to town, liked the mercifully short parade on Friday, liked the kids zone, and, surprisingly, I even liked my first taste of blueberry wine.

I liked that downtown was packed on Saturday afternoon and respectably bustling most of the rest of the weekend.

I'd just like to figure out how everybody involved could like it a little more.

Brooksville's first Blueberry Festival a hit; now let's improve it 05/08/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.