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Native American festival coming to Brooksville

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: January 22, 2014 at 06:38 PM

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Mary Kirkconnell, owner of Peace Tree Trading in Brooksville, knows a thing or two about following a spiritual guide. She built her iconic boutique of hand-made and hand-crafted Native American wares after experiencing a few inspirational epiphanies. So it didn't surprise her when an idea to organize a Native American festival in Brooksville triggered a few more.

She partnered with Hernando County Tourism Bureau, which obtained a Visit Florida grant, to organize the inaugural event that will take place Feb. 1 and 2 and will encompass Native American art and culture. The event is also sponsored by Beef O' Brady's.

"We wanted to create an event that we could hold annually that would draw and attract people to our county to support the local business economy," Kirkconnell said. "My vision, though, was to create an event that draws and attracts people from all over so we become famous for an Indian market."

Kirkconnell expects to draw visitors from as far away as Puerto Rico and South Dakota through national advertising in Native People's Magazine and Whispering Winds Magazine. "We wanted to create a premier event that would not only be known statewide but nationally," she said.

The festival will have live entertainment, educational sidebars and art and crafts vendors. It will take place at Horse Lake Field, just adjacent to Beef O' Brady's on Horse Lake Road.

Kirkconnell said something about the location made it seem perfect for the festival.

The field is reached by way of a little walking bridge.

"I just felt when I walked over the bridge that this was exactly where it was meant to happen," she said.

Kirkconnell collaborated with her partner, Paul DeLuna, who owns DeLuna Arts.

"He's an incredible artist whose art is displayed in my shop," Kirkconnell said. DeLuna, of Apache descent, had some significant insight into the festival. DeLuna also created the artwork for the logo and hopes to change it out each year.

"Paul has been traveling the Pow Wow circuit for years," Kirkconnell said. "He sourced the entertainment and the vendors. More than 20 venders will set up with handcrafted Native American-made or Native American-inspired items. Nothing can be imported."

A Native American food vendor will prepare customary food.

"She will be making fry bread, buffalo burgers, and Indian tacos," Kirkconnell said. Beef O'Brady's will also offer their traditional items during the festival.

The entertainment includes music, dance, primitive skills demonstrations, and more.

The event's headlining act, Little Big Mountain has been performing and offering Native American educational programs for more than 40 years. His family began performing in the mid 1800s with Little Big Mountain's great grandfather performing with the 101 Ranch Buffalo Bill Show in Ponca City, Okla., according to a press release.

Chicahua Yolotli Aztec Dance Troupe will play traditional music on a variety of unique wind and percussion instruments including several types of drums, flutes and whistles.

The event is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-12 and children under 5 are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at Peace Tree Trading, 770 East Jefferson Street in Brooksville, or at both locations of the Hernando County Tourism Bureau.

"I think I'm going to feel a sense of accomplishment when this is over," Kirkconnell said. "My vision in my head was probably a little over the top because I like to think big. What's really neat about this event coming together is it turned out to be larger than I even thought."

For more information, contact Mary Kirkconnel at (352) 797-7886 or visit

Contact Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame at

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