Hernando Today correspondent
Thousands of people from across the region will flood into downtown Brooksville this weekend for the third annual Florida Blueberry Festival.
Last year, the event had a $1.8 million economic impact on the area and sales revenue increased by more than $311,000.
This year, the event has "condensed" and moved slightly north to make the site more accessible. Jefferson and Broad streets between Lemon Street and Bell Avenue will be closed for the weekend.
New events planned this year include a coloring contest sent to all area schools for the chance for students to win free entry.
Also planned are a putting challenge to benefit the First Tee program and a market featuring fresh produce from Florida farmers.
About seven blueberry marketers are backing the festival with donations and the grower's association is taking a "hard look" at the city for their permanent home.
Artisans will line the streets both days for the festival, and participate in a juried art show. Their creations will also be available for purchase, along with more than 100 retail vendors and food concessionaires.
Club members from the Historic Brooksville Woodturners will feature their most recent wooden works at the festival, said Lynn Edwards of the Historic Brooksville Woodturners.
From hand-crafted bowls, vases, and peppermills, to specialty art pieces, the woodturner artisans' creations are made from blank pieces of wood.
A car show and mud truck show hosted by Monster Transmission & Performance of Brooksville will feature antiques, custom cars, classics, and custom trucks on Saturday, with "Mud-N-Monster" Trucks on Sunday.
Kids will have their own space at the festival at the "Blueberry Patch Kids Zone" with games and entertainment, the Blueberry Theatre, a zip line, a "Masters Putting Challenge", and the Blueberry Derby.
Live bands will also perform all weekend at the festival:
??Glad All Over, playing from Noon - 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, showcases a variety of upbeat 60's and 70's rock and roll, including songs from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, The Doobie Brothers, T Rex, Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, Elvis, The Doors, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk, to just to name a few.
??Velvet Jones, on stage from 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, is proud to be a "LIVE" party band, rocking out tunes from a variety of influences, and keeping the crowds shouting for more.
??Draw The Line: The Endorsed Aerosmith Tribute Band, powerfully performs from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturday. If you love "The Bad Boys from Boston", don't miss this show. You are in for a treat.
??7 Bridges: The Ultimate EAGLES Experience, playing from 8:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Saturday , brings back the concert experience of the Eagles' most creative time period, featuring one Eagles hit single after another, and sprinkling in some Don Henley and Joe Walsh into the mix.
??The Rocket Man Band, from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturday, gloriously re-enacts Elton John from the 70's & 80's with over-the-top costumes, high energy, and intensity.
Rus Anderson, singing as Elton John in the Rocket Man Band, said on his website, "Our show is an exact re-enactment of an early Elton John concert, featuring gorgeous, exact replica costumes, 100% live instruments, faster tempos, an ultra modern laser and LED light show, and various grand pianos, including an 8-foot RED Yamaha! .... It is a trip down the yellow brick road."
??Next LvL Band, a student ministry of Grace World Outreach Church in Brooksville, from 11:30 a.m. - Noon
??Embry Brothers play rock & roll from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.,
??Blackhawk will play country tunes from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.,
??The Outlaws play southern rock from 3:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
The festival runs from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine.
Admission is $5 for adults 18 and older, $3 for children ages 6-17 and free for children 5 and under.
There are several designated parking areas for the festival. Parking fees range from $4-$5 based on location.
No seating is provided during the concerts or events, so guests should bring blankets and chairs. Pets are welcome.
For more information, visit www.floridablueberryfestival.org.
Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at email@example.com.