Art in the Park has Record-Breaking Attendance

Perfect Florida weather greeted the 34th Annual Art in the Park festival sponsored by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council on March 10 and 11. The weekend event drew an estimated 6,000 people to Tom Varn Park in Brooksville. Vendors and exhibitors came from all over the state and the country.

Best of Show - Mixed media sculpture by Rolly Ray Reel

Art in the Park had something for everyone. A dozen vendors served up food ranging from paella to pretzels. Among the entertainment featured was classical music performed by the Hernando Symphony and Hernando Youth Orchestras. Whiskey Rain's repertoire included rock, country music and well-known Jimmy Buffett tunes.

Whiskey Rain

The Tampa Bay band is made up of a drummer and three guitar players - Rodney Krieg, (lead singer and rhythm guitar), Dean Smith (drummer), Jeremiah Halversen (back up singer, lead and rhythm guitar), Mark Loechelt (bass). Although the four have only been together for going on three years, their singing, playing and stage presence was on a professional level.

Paul O. Shaskan displaying his oil paintings

“We do this basically for fun right now since most of us have jobs. We want to get into writing more of our music,” states band spokesman, Halversen.

There was a wide range of fine art genres on display and also for sale. Four artists were awarded ribbons - first, second and third, as well as Best of Show.

Ashley with her artistic photography

Tony Moore won Blue Ribbon for his pencil sketches. Some of his sketches were realistic, while others were abstract. Gregory Jones won second place for his oil paintings and Roy Williams was awarded the Yellow Ribbon for his miniature oil paintings on masonite. Although Williams has been painting for many years, he has only been doing the finely-detailed miniatures for the past ten years. The average time spent painting one is about seven hours, but the whole process takes longer because he has to wait for the paint to dry on each portion before continuing with the next.

Godwin Kou displaying his brush painting & calligraphy

Rolly Ray Reel of Maitland, Florida won Best of Show for his abstract mixed media sculptures. The seventy-six-year-old Reel has been exhibiting for fifty-two years. Each piece takes an average of three to five weeks to complete.

Hand-blown glass vases

Other exhibitors included Alex Yunusova and his daughter, Lilia. Originally from Russia, they live in Orlando now. Alex creates hand-blown and lampwork glass. Lilia helps him manage his business.

Roy Williams with his miniature oil painting on masonite

Godwin Kou exhibited brush painting and calligraphy works. Born in Canton, China, he came to the United States in 1986. Kou has received numerous accolades over the years.

Third prize awarded to miniature oil paintings

Along with the fine arts, there was a wide variety of fine handmade crafts. These ranged from jewelry and purses to wooden outdoor furniture. Separate prizes were awarded in the Fine Crafts category.

Lilia & Alex Yunusova with glass figurines

There was also a children's tent set up where youngsters could create their own art. A number of non-profit organizations, such as Brooksville Main Street, Hernando County Fair Association and Heritage Museum had displays of brochures and photographs. Several companies promoted their businesses and the Republican Party of Hernando County also had a tent.

Representatives from Brooksville Main Street: L-R Ryan Malloy, Tina Marie & Mike Polson

Jan Knowles, Project Coordinator for the Fine Arts Council, deemed the two-day festival a success.

Hernando County Fair Association tent - Skip Demontozon

“One goal was for more variety in Arts and Crafts and we did want more Fine Art. We met our goal and then some,” Ms. Knowles stated.

Children's art tent participants: Isabel and Owen Ramos

For more information on the Hernando County Fine Arts Council call 352-279-5182 or go to

Don Burgher on his fiddle

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