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Gadgets and dreams peddled at home show

Leave it to a salesman to put a convincing spin on just about any situation. You'd think tight water restrictions would be the death knell to the people selling automatic sprinkler systems, right?

Wrong.

"Actually, believe it or not, it helps our business to have water restrictions," said Chuck Brown of Instant Rain Irrigation in Spring Hill.

Brown and about a hundred other salespeople were hawking more than automatic sprinklers Saturday at the Hernando Builders Association's third annual Home, Garden & Patio Show at the Alfred A. McKethan Auditorium on the Hernando County Fairgrounds.

They were selling everything and anything even remotely connected with homes. And some things with no connection at all.

Weeki Wachee Spring mermaid Veronica Mullis, looking nothing like a mermaid, was anxiously waiting for someone to help her change into her green-sequined costume.

"I'm in dry dock now," she said.

The problem is, once Ms. Mullis becomes a mermaid, her thick wavy tail prevents her from walking and she has to be carried back to her chair.

Does she mind extended exposure out of water?

"It's kind of fun," the Hernando High School graduate said.

But back to Chuck Brown.

With environmental restrictions forcing people to water their lawns before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m., and only three times a week at that, an automatic sprinkling system _ programmed to water your grass when you'd rather be sleeping _ is just the thing.

"People aren't going to get up at 4 a.m. to water their lawns," Brown said.

Promoters optimistically had projected some 10,000 people to show up at the all-day event at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, but it was impossible to say early Saturday morning whether they would reach that figure, or even come close.

But for those in attendance, the event offered everything a homeowner could want.

Steve Kish was selling Jacuzzis, and his display came complete with a $4,100 model filled with water and ready to go. Kish pushed two buttons and the giant bathtub started to bubble. "Very relaxing," he beamed.

Where there are homes, there's got to be homeowners' insurance. And security systems offering "full perimeter protection." And building material, and computerized blueprints.

One architecture company's slogan: "Cracker Classics, Traditional Southern Homes."

Then there was Jenn-Air appliance specialist Jean Lubinski explaining the white-on-white look of the latest in home appliances, including a Lady Kenmore refrigerator with enough touch pads (that's buttons to most people) to launch a spaceship.

Nowadays, you can regulate just about everything inside a refrigerator from the outside. There's even a warning light for those late-night refrigerator raiders who accidentally leave the door ajar.

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