Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando fair, blueberry festival officials pleased with weekend crowds

Carolina Wiwchar serves a bowl of homemade blueberry shortcake  Saturday during the two-day Florida Blueberry Festival, which ended Sunday.


Carolina Wiwchar serves a bowl of homemade blueberry shortcake Saturday during the two-day Florida Blueberry Festival, which ended Sunday.

BROOKSVILLE — If Hernando County roads seemed a little more crowded this past weekend, there was good reason. The convergence of the 63rd Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show and the Florida Blueberry Festival, plus near-perfect spring weather, combined to attract huge crowds, leaving organizers of both events pleased.

The fair wrapped up its nine-day run Saturday with what spokeswoman Sandra Nicholson called "a huge crowd" on the final day. Fears that the fair's finale might be competing with the opening day of the blueberry festival didn't materialize, she said

"I think it might have even helped," Nicholson said. "We had a big crowd for the demolition derby. We had to scooch them together in the grandstand."

Nicholson said that despite light crowds on weekdays, she was generally pleased with the turnout for the fair, where the governing body is the subject of an investigation over the handling of its finances.

"Everyone worked very hard to make it a success," Nicholson said. "I didn't hear one complaint."

The Florida Blueberry Festival brought teeming crowds to downtown Brooksville for the third straight year, causing a boon not only for the vendors, but for downtown businesses as well.

While attendance figures won't be ready until later this week, festival chairwoman Michael Heard thinks the two-day event easily topped last year's estimated crowd of 33,000, and points to the sale of 900 blueberry pies — roughly twice as many as last year — as prime evidence.

"Everything was up over last year, and I think people went away happy they spent their day here," Heard said.

Perhaps even more important was that people who came seemed to stay longer, thanks to an expansion of features such as the kids activity zone, art exhibits and continuous live entertainment.

"When you give people more to do and look at, they're going to want to stay," Heard said.

In addition, she said, this year's event benefited from a revised layout that located more activities in level areas that were easier for patrons with physical limitation to navigate.

While festivalgoers bought food and craft items from out-of-town vendors, many also supported local restaurants and stores.

Peggy Bell, owner of the Main Street Eatery, said business was so brisk that she brought in friends and family members to help. Throughout the weekend, she heard nothing but good things about Brooksville from out-of-town visitors with whom she spoke.

"People seem to love our little town," Bell said. "That should make everyone feel good."

Dana Reuter, who runs Easy Street Home Decor on N Brooksville Avenue, said that business was "exceptionally good" at her store throughout the weekend.

"People stopped in to check us out," Reuter said. "Even if they didn't buy anything, they at least know we're here now."

The festival's future, and any possible changes, will be discussed in the weeks ahead by the event's board of directors, Heard said.

Hernando County tourism coordinator Tammy Heon praised both the blueberry festival and the fair in that they lured visitors to the county and provided them with positive experiences.

"It helped that we had some of the best weather we've had all year," Heon said. "And although there's no way you can control that, people who come to your community and have a pleasant time while they're here are going to remember it."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Hernando fair, blueberry festival officials pleased with weekend crowds 04/15/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. (From left to right) Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama address the audience during a hurricane relief concert in Texas on Saturday night.
  2. Manufacturing expo highlights locally-made products


    TAMPA — Thursday's inaugural Made in Tampa Bay Expo at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus, drew manufacturers, on lookers and even Gov. Rick Scott.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott appeared Thursday at the Made in Tampa Bay manufacturing expo.
  3. Sunday Conversation: The bronzing of E.J. Salcines

    Human Interest

    There have been three professional versions of Emiliano Jose "E.J." Salcines. There were the decades the 79-year-old West Tampa native spent as a lawyer, including 16 years as an elected state prosecuting attorney. Then there were his 15 years as an appellate judge.

    Retired judge E.J. Salcines will have a statue unveiled in his likeness at the old Hillsborough County Courthouse near the WWII monument.  (For Sunday Conversation by Paul Guzzo)
  4. In neighborhood fearing serial killer, Tampa police escort kids to bus stops

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Police were escorting students to school bus stops this morning as they blanket the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over a period of 11 days that they consider to be related.

    A school bus drives by the Faith Baptist Church of Tampa in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES  | Times]  

  5. Kriseman TV ad, mailer another chapter in Trump strategy


    With 15 days left before the St. Petersburg mayor's race is decided, Mayor Rick Kriseman's campaign continues to attempt to tie former mayor Rick Baker to Donald Trump.

    The latest mailer from Rick Kriseman's campaign continues to tie opponent Rick Baker to President Donald Trump