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Primal pleasure: Swamp Fest

The 10th Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival promises even more down-home music, food and critters.

By JOY DAVIS-PLATT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 28, 2003

WEEKI WACHEE -- For a decade, crowds have gathered once a year along the banks of the Weeki Wachee River to enjoy food, music and fun.

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival, an event based on traditions, including a gator recipe contest, a swamp monster costume contest and a folk song competition.

"Things are looking very good, and everything is pretty much as it has been in the past," said festival organizer Don Deedrick. "Since this is a big anniversary, we're having some of the people who have been entertainers in the past."

Stages set amid the strolling crowds at the Weeki Wachee Christian Camp will feature bluegrass jam sessions, as well as folk, country and contemporary music both Saturday and Sunday.

Besides music, the festival pays tribute to the area's wildlife with an endangered Florida panther and other native animals.

Over the years, Deedrick said, the event has grown to the point that it now draws thousands of people from all over the area.

"It's hard to tell how many people come out for the festival," he said. "Much of it depends on what kind of weather we get."

More than 150 artists and artisans will display their wares for the event. All have been hand-picked for their quality and originality, Deedrick said.

What's more, he said, the festival's food lineup this year is the best in the event's history.

"We have a whole array of wonderful seafood," he said. "A terrific variety."

If you go

WHAT: 10th annual Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Weeki Wachee Christian Camp, on Shoal Line Boulevard a half-mile south of Cortez Boulevard

ADMISSION: Admission, parking and entertainment are free. Shuttle buses will run from two satellite parking areas, one on Cortez Boulevard and the other at Hernando Beach Park.

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