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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Celebrating native heritage


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BROOKSVILLE - Scents of sage and the sound of distant drumming greeted visitors at the inaugural Brooksville Native American festival on Saturday.

By mid-morning, event organizer Mary Kirkconnell said the turnout was "awesome" and "over-the-top."

Kirkconnell, owner of Peace Tree Trading in Brooksville, worked the ticket line Saturday and said visitors numbered in the hundreds just before noon.

Kirkconnell, who organized the event with the Hernando County Tourism Bureau, said the festival is a great way for residents in Hernando County and beyond to experience diversity and Native American culture.

"I'm really excited about it, from a Native American perspective, because that's where my heart is and that's what I do," Kirkconnell said.

"For the county, I'm excited because this event alone has the ability to draw and attract visitors not only from other counties but from other cities in Florida and other states as well," she said, adding up to 5,000 people were expected to visit the festival.

"We have native people who came as far as South Dakota," Kirkconnell said.

The festival offers live, nonstop entertainment, Kirkconnell said, including singing, dance performances and educational lessons. Vendors sell hand-crafted goods made by Native Americans, and authentic food is offered.

The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Horse Lake Field, next to Beef 'O'Brady's at 7601 Horse Lake Road.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-12. Child under 5 are admitted free.

More information is available at http://www.brooksville

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