WEEKI WACHEE — West of U.S. 19, off Cortez Boulevard, lies the tiny community that locals will tell you is the "real" Weeki Wachee.
You won't find many modern edifices there. Rather, the tight-knit community is dotted with an eclectic mix of modest Florida-style bungalows and mobile homes, all nestled within the natural sprawl of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area.
The distinctiveness of the area was what inspired Kim Curtis and Joe Foster, the owners of BeckyJack's Food Shack, to come up with the idea for Weekistock, a free, down-home outdoor festival on the grounds of their restaurant that has just one purpose: having fun.
"I think we were just looking to do something that people could turn into their own kind of celebration — sort of like a festival and a flea market combined," Curtis said. "We don't charge a vendor fee, so any artist or vendor who wants to be a part of it can come out and set up their wares."
Weekistock IV, which kicks off at noon Saturday at the restaurant, 8070 Cortez Blvd., continues to stay close to its roots, said Ashlee Stringer, who organizes the event each year. This year's event has attracted about 25 vendors who will be selling fresh produce, handmade soaps, locally grown honey and other goods. Several area artists and craftspeople will be on hand, and the festival will feature a day's worth of entertainment from local folk, country and blues musicians. In addition, there will be raffles, kids games and a dog costume contest.
Weekistock isn't just about chilling out, though. Since Day 1, Curtis and her husband have encouraged nonprofit and civic groups to set up booths to allow people to become more familiar with them and what they do.
"I think you can have a lot of fun and still give something back to the community, too," she said.
Donations from some of the raffles will benefit the Nature Coast Humane Society.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.