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Festival is return to simpler times

In an era where festivals usually mean carnival rides, loud music and junk food, the 24th annual Rattlesnake Festival on Saturday was a charming folk throwback. "It's still something done by real people, not relying on carnival rides or cotton candy," festival coordinator Edward Herrmann said. "It's a big source of community pride and nobody makes a penny on it.

"All the money we raise is given away, specifically to benefit the youth or anything in the community that we feel needs help. It's an old-fashioned community chest."

Even when personal profits were made by arts, crafts and antiques dealers, the attitude was more mellow than mercenary.

Vendors scrambled to set up their booths before the 9 a.m. opening. But many visitors didn't wait for that official time before they started to browse. Sales were completed before Tina Imperato of Zephyrhills sang the first notes of The Star-Spangled Banner.

Everybody in City Park stood in quiet respect for the national anthem, then it was back to the bargains.