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Believing in Brooksville with Women Leading the Way

By Deanna Dammer Kimbrough Posted on October 22, 2020

It all started in 2016.  The Brooksville Main Street Program determined its mission would be to help make Brooksville “a thriving urban core, one that supports an active business environment,” a place for recreation and a city that residents can be proud to call home. 

There have been over 120 days of community events on its annual calendar, according to https://historicdowntownbrooksville.org.  That’s quite an accomplishment for Natalie Kahler, Executive Director, Tina Marie Polson, Events and Marketing Coordinator, and the Main Street Committee that consists of 11 local business owners and citizens.

Giving People a Reason to Visit Brooksville with Events

A highly popular, free event is the Friday Night Live Concert Series.  Performances are on the bandshell stage in Hernando Park, located at 205 East Fort Dade Avenue in downtown Brooksville. 

Local restaurants are serving up some of their best selections in the Taste of Brooksville tent. Other downtown venues are open as well, but no outside food or beverages or coolers are allowed. The next concert performers will be the Shadow Ridge Band scheduled for November 13th from 6:00 – 9:30 p.m. (Check their Facebook Page for the most up-to-date information.)

The Night Market will have exhibitors where you can “shop and browse.”  The Park is open, with games and a playground.

Visitors to Friday Night Live in Brooksville order a cocktail from The Pour Pony. Image by Tina Poulson.

Tap the Bay will offer a full bar, but an ID wristband will be required, so bring proof of age, even if you think you look older than 21.  You never know.  (Personally, I like being carded; it makes me smile!)

Feel free to bring a blanket or chair and even a pet, as long as it’s on a leash.

Restrooms or port-a-potties are on site for your use.  Oh, and it is Florida, so bring an umbrella just in case.

The October 17 event was exclusive to “Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep or Ram truck brands,” but that didn’t keep it from being choc full of vintage and cream of the crop rides! Image by Tina Poulson.

Arts and Autos

If you are a vintage or modern car aficionado, this event is for you.  The October 17 event was exclusive to “Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep or Ram truck brands,” but that didn’t keep it from being choc full of vintage and cream of the crop rides! 

Arts aficionados will enjoy the “fabulous handmade/handcrafted artisan market,” and non-profit organizations that participate in meeting with guests to get the word out about their mission, along with “brick and mortar” businesses.  It’s all about celebrating the “heart of downtown.”

The next Arts and Autos will be held on November 21 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.  The theme is yet to be announced, so once again, be sure to check the Main Street Facebook Page for updates and registration information.

Arts aficionados will enjoy the handmade/handcrafted artisan market, and non-profit organizations that participate in meeting with guests, along with “brick and mortar” businesses. It’s all about celebrating the “heart of downtown.” The next Arts and Autos will be held November 21, 2020. Image courtesy of Brooksville Main Street.

Women Leading the Way

Originally, Women Leading the Way was planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to our United States Constitution, giving all women the right to vote.

The highlight was to be a rally re-enactment of the Suffrage March for the Right to Vote held in Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1914.

The Brooksville event was originally planned for March 2020, to include a march on the Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville, rally speeches and more, but COVID-19 caused concerns and it was postponed.  The “hoped for” date to do the march was re-scheduled for October 2020, but since the COVID-19 threat has not been defeated, the event was scaled back dramatically.

Margaret Rogers Ghiotto, founder of Rogers Christmas House, was a Congressional Honoree, who was dedicated to the beautification of Brooksville. Image courtesy of Brooksville Main Street.

There were panels and discussions scheduled, along with art displays and music.  I had my costume all ready for the march, complete with Votes For Women banner.  But like the women from the Suffrage Movement, we won’t be stopped.  Natalie Kahler wants to keep trying to schedule a re-enactment, possibly next year.  To quote her: “we’re not giving up.”  You go girl (I mean woman?)

The History Walk was not cancelled, and thanks to Coastal Engineering, there are posters on display in the windows of downtown businesses, called Hosts.  They include photos and brief bios of women who made a difference throughout generations in Brooksville and Hernando County. 

Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street, next to the Mable Sims poster. Image by Tina Poulson.

Some of the 48 names will be familiar to you if you know the history of Brooksville and Hernando County; many will echo the names of local businesses, buildings, streets, avenues or highways. 

Women Leading the Way in Hernando County

Enjoy taking a walk throughout the downtown Brooksville area to learn about the women who have shaped the town and Hernando County. Some helped shape the State of Florida from Brooksville. 

Here is a small sample of the posters:

  • Bertha Hancock Ashbrook – Drove the first bookmobile in Florida
  • Anna Cimbora – Proprietor of Masaryktown Hotel
  • Mary Anderson Coogler – World Fair artist
  • Wevlyn Graves – First Black Pres. Brooksville Women’s Club
  • Virginia Jackson – Historian
  • May Mann Jennings – Florida First Lady
  • Hazel Land – First Black University of Florida Graduate
  • Ada Cooper Law – Supervisor of Elections/1930s
  • Annie Joe Law – First female County attorney
  • Vivian Rivera-Hernandez – Founder, Hispanic Heritage Festival
  • Elizabeth Robins – Writer, actress, suffragist
  • Margaret Dreier Robins  – President Nat’l Women’s Trade Union League
  • Mabel Sims  – Black Historian
  • Lizzie Washington – Midwife
  • Olive and Ava Weeks – Hardware business owners

For a complete list of the women who are honored through Women Leading the Way, and where each poster is displayed, visit the Brooksville Main Street website, or stop by the Hernando County Visitor Center at 205 E. Fort Dade Avenue in Brooksville.

Tina Marie Poulson is the Events and Marketing Coordinator for Brooksville Main Street. She works tirelessly alongside Natalie Kahler to promote the community, events, and Brooksville’s businesses. Image courtesy of Tina Marie Poulson.

You can help support the shops and restaurants that are open while you are walking through downtown Brooksville, learning about women who influenced our society. Please cooperate with any restrictions they may have.  We’re all in this together.

2020 saw Brooksville christen its Mermaid Trail, which Main Street helped organize and implement. Here is one of the smallest Participants in this popular activity. For more info on The Florida Mermaid Trail, click here. Image courtesy of Tina Marie Poulson.

Keeping the Brooksville Heart Beating

One of the many things that have endeared me to Brooksville is knowing how many people were born, raised, left for college, jobs or the military, and returned to make it their homes.  There is a heartfelt reason for that. 

Brooksville Main Street works to remind people of why and encourage them to stay in touch with this historic, lively city in the heart of Florida’s Nature Coast.

How to Contact Brooksville Main Street

Live music in the Hernando Bandshell is a popular part of many events. Image by Tina Poulson.

The Brooksville Main Street organization is headquartered at the Hernando County Visitor Center at 205 East Fort Dade Avenue, Brooksville, Florida. Their phone number is 352-540-6409, and their website is https://historicdowntownbrooksville.com. Their email is [email protected] and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/brooksvillemainstreet

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