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Seasoned artistry

With a long history of excellence in art and seafood, this weekend's Homosassa Arts, Crafts and Seafood Festival is a major highlight of the art season.

The festival, now in its 23rd year, draws about 48,000 people during its two-day run. The crowd transforms the small town of Old Homosassa into a colorful, vibrant outdoor arts' marketplace.

The enticing smell of seafood and other delicacies from the 14 food vendors fills the air with delicious aromas.

"We've had as many as 60,000 people visit," said Arch Abernathy, festival publicist.

Because there is only one road leading to the festival, cars are counted, and the number of cars is multiplied by 2.5 to reach the number of people. The high of 60,000 was reached three years ago, Abernathy said.

The Homosassa Civic Club, which sponsors the festival along with the Citrus Times, donates proceeds to several charities. Among the charities are the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. The civic club also donates money for local scholarships to area colleges and technical schools, Abernathy said.

"We usually come up with $6,000 to $8,000 a year," he said.

The money comes from the sales of refreshments and from registration fees.

The festival draws the region's finest artists. This year's featured artist is Keith Martin Johns, whose recent exhibitions include a 20-piece exhibit about the Suwanee River. He painted two Homosassa River scenes especially for the show.

The fine arts include painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media.

In a separate area by the river is a crafts display, known as the Meadow. Here shoppers can find holiday wreaths, decorations, jewelry, custom clothing and many other fine crafts.

Entertainment is scheduled on two stages, in front of Homosassa Elementary and on another stage at the Meadows.

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