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Music, food, crafts, but no crowd

Attendance at the event in downtown Crystal River lagged Saturday but rose near anticipated numbers on Sunday. Organizers plan to try again next year.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Attendance was less than ideal, but organizers of the second annual Bayfest held Saturday and Sunday said they are pleased with the results and plan to do it again next year.

Saturday's turnout disappointed many exhibitors, particularly the arts and crafts vendors, but a healthy showing on Sunday almost made up for it. "We probably had about 3,000 people Saturday," said Vera Frederick, who organized the arts and crafts vendors for Bayfest. "I think things went extremely well, though we could have used a little more traffic."

Frederick said she hoped Sunday's larger crowd would reach the 10,000 people Bayfest organizers had anticipated.

"But we don't charge admission, so there's really no way of knowing," she said.

Bayfest featured an arts and crafts sales area, live music, a quilt show, food and American Indiancrafts and an herb show in the downtown area between Crystal Street and Citrus Avenue.

The Lions building at the old railroad depot on Crystal Street hosted the quilt show and the live music. Local country singers performed from the back porch of the depot, and the songs drifted through the crowd.

The depot attracted an audience throughout the day, as people would listen to the singers and often buy a drink from the lemonade vendors.

"I think the organizers have worked hard and are trying to do something nice for the downtown area, and that's to be commended," said Marie Beinkowski, who attended the festival.

The shops of Heritage Village on Citrus Avenue sponsored an herb festival and hosted some wildlife education exhibits.

At the St. Martin's State Wildlife Preserve exhibit, which featured a "touch tank" of gulf waters fish and plants, workers said they noticed a larger crowd Sunday.

"We've seen more people this morning than we did all day Saturday," said J.D. Mendenhall.

The owner of Cobblestone Alley Antiques, which hosted the herb festival, said she had hoped for a better turnout.

"They needed more signs along U.S. 19 telling people where to turn," said Dot Koehler. "But I think it's a wonderful festival, and it just needs time to grow."

The Red Turtle Lodge, an American Indian fraternal group, had a section of the arts and crafts show to themselves.

They offered American Indian jewelry, performed music and had some children's activities.

June Two Rivers, an elder in the Red Turtle Lodge, said she enjoyed the festival.

"It was wonderful. There were a lot of different cultures, and we met a lot of nice people. The organizers are to be commended for that," she said.

"We didn't make a lot of money, but, you know, not everything has to be measured on how much money you make."

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