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Art, song and even ... a mermaid?

As Logan Chute, age 4, discovered, you can find almost anything at the Hernando County Art, Craft and Music Festival.

By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 26, 2002

Strolling slowly through the Hernando County Art, Craft and Music Festival with his mother and grandmother, the 4-year-old stopped short in front of the blond mermaid wearing a bright blue bikini top and matching sequined fin.

Bending toward Logan, his grandmother, Sharon Chute, suggested that he introduce himself.

"A real mermaid," she whispered. "I wonder if she lives at Weeki Wachee?"

But no amount of coaxing could convince Logan, who was backing up quickly toward his mother, Jane, 33.

"You're not like like your dad," Chute said, smiling.

Momentary shyness aside, Logan, who lives in Brooksville, pronounced the 18th annual festival an unequivocal "good," mostly because of a particular bead and rope bracelet he had his eye on.

"It's so hard to find his name on anything," said Chute, 54, of Spring Hill. "They're making it special for him."

The Chutes joined a crowd that meandered slowly Saturday morning along the mile-long shaded walkway lined with more than 100 artists and crafters. An estimated 20,000 people per year attend the free event, which continues today in Tom Varn Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Featuring a juried art show, the festival has nearly $6,000 in award money for winners chosen by a panel of judges.

Carlo Simonelli just wanted something to hang on his bedroom wall.

Actually, his wife wanted it. She did the shopping while Simonelli took a break in the shade on a stone bench just off the tree-lined path.

"I'm going to bowl this afternoon," he said, stretching. "I've got a big day."

Simonelli, 69, of Brooksville made his first trip to the festival on Saturday. He liked what he saw, but trusted his wife with the selection.

As she and his granddaughter drifted among exhibits featuring jewelry, pottery, photographs, candles, lawn furniture and paintings, Simonelli was content to relax and watch the crowd.

"She likes what she likes, period," he said. "She doesn't pay attention to me. I don't mind at all."

-- Jennifer Farrell covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Send e-mail to

If you go

The 18th annual Hernando County Art, Craft and Music Festival will continue today in Tom Varn Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Performers today include the Step Sisters, Lisa Perry, Steven Aldridge and the Hernando Jazz Society. The park is off W Jefferson Street (State Road 50A) on the west side of Brooksville. For more information, call 684-6288.

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