Make us your home page

A dream becomes a reality with inaugural Brooksville Native American Festival


Mary Kirkconnell has been drawn to the mystique and natural wonder of American Indian culture for nearly 20 years. Once a sales trainer for a Fortune 500 company, she left corporate America for a more down-to-earth lifestyle and has owned Peace Tree Trading in Brooksville for nearly 11 years.

For quite a few years, Kirkconnell has wanted to share her passion on a larger scale. Those dreams began to take shape last year when she started to plan a local festival.

With the help of her partner, Paul DeLuna — who is of Apache descent and has traveled the powwow circuit for years — and Tammy Heon, Hernando County tourism development coordinator, Kirkconnell's dreams will come to fruition this weekend with the inaugural Brooksville Native American Festival. The two-day event will be Saturday and Sunday in the large field behind Beef 'O' Brady's on Horse Lake Road.

The event will include music, dance, primitive skills demonstrations, food and more than 20 vendors selling American Indian and American Indian-inspired arts and crafts.

Among the featured performers will be the Big Mountain Family, headed by Little Big Mountain, a dancer, singer and native culture educator who has been performing for more than 40 years. His show includes about six dancers, and various native dance styles will be represented.

"He is just fabulous," Kirkconnell said. "He comes from a long, long line of entertainers."

Also performing will be the Chicahua Yolotli Aztec dance troupe and Chippa Wolfe, who will perform with his horse, Kiddo, in a "Warriors on Horseback" show.

Primitive skills demonstrations will be presented by Ben Kirkland from Georgia, including flint-knapping and fire-making, along with setting up a primitive camp. Kashka, an 85-year-old storyteller from Alaska, will also entertain.

The event emcee will be Mike Serio, a flute player, guitarist and singer.

"The entertainment will be absolutely nonstop," Kirkconnell said. "There will be something new every 30 minutes."

There will be a food vendor selling Indian delicacies such as fried bread, buffalo burgers and Indian tacos. Beef 'O' Brady's will also have a variety of foods available.

The event has drawn vendors, and visitors as well, from throughout the United States — even from Puerto Rico.

"We are really excited," said Heon, who helped secure a grant and sponsorship with Visit Florida. "We are already selling advance tickets, and there is a great buzz in the community.

"Paul and Mary are amazing people," she added. "With their expertise, they did the bulk of the work, finding the talent, entertainment and vendors."

Heon said her role was helping to secure a "minority convention grant" through Visit Florida, which allowed creating a website and purchasing regional billboards and advertising, as well as national advertising in Native American publications such as Whispering Wind magazine.

The result, Heon hopes, will be an event that attracts a large number of new visitors to Hernando County.

"This is a launch of another community collaboration, and more reason for people to visit Hernando County and see what we have to offer," she said. "And this (festival) is an excellent reason to come visit."

Heon said the weekend will be educational, as well as entertaining, where people can come out, "have fun, learn a few things, enjoy the music, food and camaraderie."

Said Kirkconnell: "The event as a whole has come together so beautifully. It is way bigger than I even thought of in my head."


Brooksville Native American Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Horse Lake Field, adjacent to Beef 'O' Brady's, 7601 Horse Lake Road, Brooksville

Cost: Admission is $5, $3 for ages 5 to 12 and free for ages 4 and younger.

Contact: Call (352) 797-7886 or visit brooksvillenativeamerican

A dream becomes a reality with inaugural Brooksville Native American Festival 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 6:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Battle of the Sexes' is a fine time capsule comedy, and not really about the tennis


    In 1973, tennis champion Billie Jean King joined a two-ring circus with hustler Bobby Riggs, billed as a Battle of the Sexes amid the women's liberation movement. Fifty million Americans watched the pop spectacle on TV.

    Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film "Battle of the Sexes." [Fox Searchlight Pictures.]
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26


    University Lecture Series: Jackie Cruz: In part of USF's Hispanic Heritage Month activities, actress Jackie Cruz (Orange is the New Black) presents "Cruzing Through Adversity" in which she offers lessons on resilience, determination and turning life's challenges into opportunities and a better outlook. 8 …

    Jackie Cruz in a scene from Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" Season 2. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio for Netflix.
  3. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic


    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  4. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story


    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 1


    MegaCon Tampa: The multi-genre convention brings a lineup of celebrity guests and comic book creators to the Tampa Convention Center Friday-Sunday, including icon Stan Lee, William Shatner, above, Kevin Smith and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things. Shop hundreds of vendors selling …

    Courtesy Adultswim