WEEKI WACHEE — When you've been putting together an event for nearly four decades, it's good to make changes from time to time. That's why organizers of the Spring Hill Art League's 37th annual Fall Harvest of Art decided to inject some new flavor last year.
The festival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, will once again feature a strong musical element, along with more than 70 local and regional artists and crafts people. The combination of music and art makes for a good draw, said festival chairman and Spring Hill artist Paul Shaskan.
"We've been doing this for a long time, so last year we felt it was time to add something that might bring some new faces out," Shaskan said. "I think people enjoy having something else to see and do while they are walking around looking at art."
This will be the second consecutive year the Fall Harvest of Art will be held at the storied roadside attraction. Throughout its long history, the festival has been held in plenty of places around the county: a Brooksville park, the Sand Hill Scout Reservation, a shopping center parking lot and even a retirement community.
When owners of the mermaid park offered free use of the facility in 2003, Spring Hill Art League members hoped to make it a permanent home for the festival. But a change in the attraction's ownership foiled those plans, and in 2007 it was moved elsewhere.
Shaskan said the festival has always enjoyed its best attendance at Weeki Wachee Springs, and he expects good weather will bring out a nice crowd again this year.
"I think it could end up being the best show we've ever had," Shaskan said. "We have so many great artists, and they are all excited about being part of it."
In addition to well-known Hernando County artists such as Peter Gerbert, Caroline Kwas, Diane Becker, Roy Williams and Valdora Ward, the festival will welcome legendary Highwaymen artists Johnny and Jimmy Stovall and Kelvin Hair.
While adults will no doubt enjoy the art and music, there will also be plenty of fun for kids, including face painting, art workshops and live animal shows.
The festival's $5 admission price ($3 for students) gives visitors access to all of the park's attractions, including the mermaid show, museum and river cruise. Admission to the park is usually $13.
The art league will split the gate proceeds with the park. As in years past, the festival raises money for the league's scholarship program for local high school seniors who plan to study art in college.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.