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Manatee festival tops weekend list

The Florida Manatee Festival takes over downtown Crystal River today and Sunday, offering a fine arts show, live entertainment and boat tours of Kings Bay.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday in downtown Crystal River. Admission is $2 for people 12 and older. Free parking and shuttle bus service are available at Crystal River Mall on U.S. 19, north of the festival. Parking areas around the festival site downtown will be scarce.

To see manatees and other wildlife, take a guided boat tour of Kings Bay. The boats leave every half hour from Crystal River Manatee Dive and Tour, 267 NW Third St. Boat rides are $5 for adults, $3 for children. Buy tickets at the chamber tent inside the festival.

A manatee education exhibit area is on Citrus Avenue and Heritage Village. Scheduled exhibitors are the Friends of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Friends of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge, Citrus County Audubon Society, Nature World Rescue Group, Save The Manatee Club, Citrus County Extension Office Yards and Neighborhoods Program and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Other features are the fine arts exhibit, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times, and a daylong entertainment schedule. The "Sounds Like Buffett To Me" Jimmy Buffett sound-alike competition begins at 2 p.m. today.

Other weekend entertainment activities include:

DIXIELAND: The music of New Orleans will be highlighted when the Dukes of Dixieland band performs as part of the Central Florida Community College Performing Arts Series. The group will play at 3 p.m. Sunday at Curtis Peterson Auditorium in Lecanto. Tickets are $17 for reserved seating and $15 for general admission. Groups of 10 or more can purchase matinee tickets at a discount.

The group also will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the CFCC Ocala Fine Arts Auditorium at the Ocala campus on State Road 200. The Dukes of Dixieland are the oldest continuing jazz band in New Orleans, having performed for more than 30 years. They have toured with jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Woody Herman. The CFCC Foundation sponsors the Performing Arts Series. For tickets or more information, please call the foundation office at 746-6721, ext. 1416.

FOLK MUSIC: The Sunday Sampler concert series will be from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Dunnellon Lions Club on Walnut Street and Cedar Street (State Road 40 W), one block from the library in Dunnellon.

The featured act, Patchwork, is a band of five women who play original Florida folk, country and bluegrass, 1940s swing and rhythm and blues, all on acoustic instruments.

Admission is $8. Complimentary refreshments served at intermission. After the concert, there will be an open mike.

Jorge Sanchez covers arts and entertainment in Citrus County. Call 860-7313 or e-mail