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County to celebrate with fun

What does a 149-year-old county want for its birthday? Just you _ to show up at its party today.

For the 12th consecutive year, the Hernando Historical Museum Association plays host to the Heritage Days Festival. The association, a non-profit corporation, sponsors the festival today and Sunday to celebrate the county's creation and to help raise money for its historical museum.

"It's an old-time, fun day," museum director Virginia Jackson said. "People love to come and watch; they come from all over. I got calls from as far away as Sarasota."

Although Hernando doesn't officially turn 149 until Monday, Jackson said, festivities begin with a grand opening at 10 a.m. today. Entertainment for the day includes cloggers and bands, as well as an array of arts and crafts items for sale, and skills demonstrations, like quilting or cloth spinning.

Also scheduled for today is an antique car contest, sponsored by the Downtown Development Corp. and held in the parking lot of the Hernando County Government Center. A trophy goes to the car voted "The People's Choice"; each of the first 50 entrants get a dash plaque. Registration, which begins at 8 a.m., costs $5.

On Sunday, entertainment includes the Talako Indian Dancers and the Clover Leaf Farms men's barbershop quartet.

Food and drink are offered both days, as are crafts and displays at 50 booths, Jackson said. Civil War re-enactors will be on hand to talk to curious passers-by about their era.

Tours of the museum and the association's restored railroad depot at Brooksville Avenue and Russell Street also will be available.

The museum is a renovated, four-story, 12-room Victorian house on May Avenue and Museum Court in Brooksville. The association purchased it for $40,000 in March 1991 after leasing it for six years from Dr. Earl Hensley. It is thought to have been built in 1855 by the Sheldon Stringer family.

Last year Heritage Days raised $2,000, Jackson said. The association hopes to raise at least as much this year.

WHAT: Heritage Days festival, marking Hernando County's 149th birthday

WHO: Sponsored by the Hernando Historical Museum Association

WHERE: Heritage Museum, 601 May Ave., Brooksville

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday

COST: Free

SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS: Saturday _ Antique car contest, barbershop quartet, String n' Strutters band, Sumter County Cloggers; Sunday _ Talako Indian Dancers, County Line Dancers, barbershop quartet; Both days _ antique show, arts and crafts sale, quilting demonstrations, museum tours.