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Humidity, gray skies put damper on festival

When it came to peddling her handmade goods at the Heritage Museum's Fall Festival on Saturday, the early morning gray skies didn't hamper Jean Harrell, but the humidity did.

"It's a little humid out today," Harrell said, fanning herself among her collection of quilts and wood crafts. "You're not used to it when you stay inside all day working in an air-conditioned office."

Although rain threatened the festival in the early hours, vendors like Harrell and a few hundred hardy visitors endured the asphyxiating atmosphere to attend the annual event.

"We love it. We come every year," said Brooksville resident Margaret Appenzeller, who was reviewing some merchandise with friend Janet Lull, also of Brooksville. "We like the crafts, and we tour the house."

Proceeds from this year's festival will help pay for renovations to the "house," actually a onetime home of 100-plus years at the corner of May Avenue and Jefferson Street called the Heritage Museum. A sprawling white structure reminiscent of the days of Dixie, the one-time cottage from the 1800s now serves as a link to the past for local residents and history buffs.

Because of recent structural damage, primarily to the roof, members of the Hernando Historical Museum Association began a $20,000 renovation project, $12,800 just for the roof.

The festival is one of four ways the association earns money to keep the museum open. In addition to association dues, the group hosts the Heritage Days Festival in February and the Brooksville Raid re-enactment in January.

Sparse crowds wandered through the daylong fair in the morning hours, peeking in on the mock military camps of the Union and Confederacy, set scarcely a few hundred feet away. Visitors also milled around 40 merchants _ many selling historically-oriented wares _ who were on hand Saturday morning, in spite of the weather.

Harrell, who sells the quilts and wood workings after making them with her husband in their Weeki Wachee home, has been on the festival circuit for a little more than a year. She hopes the hobbies they share will supplement their income in retirement.

"This is relaxation

.

.

. an outlet," Harrell said. "It's fulfilling, and needless to say, everybody needs to supplement their income."

Despite the humidity and gray skies, vendors liked the weather, because most customers prefer to shop without the heat of the sun.

The weather was also welcomed by Elizabeth Davis, her sister Rosemary, and Nikki Licari, three Spring Hill girls who wandered around the museum grounds dressed in Confederate-era clothing.

"I dress up because I like to show people" the clothing, Nikki said. Nevertheless, she'd hock her hoop skirt for breeches and a musket any day.

"I really want to be a soldier. I want to go fight battles and shoot guns and stuff," she said.

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