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Celebrating the Florida Mermaid Trail with its First Anniversary Festival

By Diane Bedard Posted on February 4, 2021

Have you made it to the Florida Mermaid Trail in the last year? If not, perhaps the best time to check it out is during the first annual Florida Mermaid Trail Festival on February 20, 2021!

The Florida Mermaid Trail Festival will be held at Hernando Park, 205 E. Fort Dade Ave in Historic Downtown Brooksville to celebrate a year of making Brooksville mermaid memories and is sponsored by The Lowman Foundation, Florida’s Adventure Coast and Brooksville Main Street.

Admission is free and there promises to be plenty of mermaid magic to make it a special day. In fact, should you decide to walk the Florida Mermaid Trail, using the Distrx app, this will be the first day you will be able to hear each mermaid give you a clue as to her whereabouts.

The Florida Mermaid Trail Festival starts at 11 am and runs through 2:30 pm. There will be a live DJ with music, a mermaid costume contest, an exhibitor market featuring mermaid merchandise, live mermaids from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park stationed in the park and throughout downtown for fun photo opportunities, and more.

The Mermaid Costume Contest will begin at noon in Hernando Park for humans and pets! Judged Categories include Adult, Child, Pet, Best Group, and the Most Like a Florida Mermaid Trail Mermaid.

The 2021 Florida Mermaid Trail Festival features a Mermaid Costume Contest. Image from Brooksville Main Street.

Before or after the Florida Mermaid Trail Festival, perhaps you would like to walk the Florida Mermaid Trail? On February 20, 2021, you should be able to hear each mermaid give a clue in her own voice through the Distrx App on your iPhone or Android device.

Brooksville Main Street Plans several Events for 2021 including The Fancy Flea Feb. 27

Brooksville’s Main Street program has committed to several events for 2021, with monthly Friday Night Live concerts, and a return of the Fancy Flea Pop Up Market on February 27.

The following weekend, Brooksville Main Street will host The Fancy Flea market for a return engagement at 15 N. Main Street on Saturday, February 27 from 9 am to 4 pm. The Fancy Flea Pop Up Street Fair is a traveling flea market that specializes in some of the finest vintage, gift, and antique vendors. Furniture, home decor, antique furnishings, clothing, jewelry, and more. Admission is free and it is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Tina Marie Polson, Brooksville Main Street’s Marketing and Events Coordinator explains, “From intricate to extravagant finds, antiques, collectibles and so much more. Our beautiful historic downtown Brooksville becomes the backdrop to THE top vintage home & garden market in the country. Welcoming thousands of visitors to not only explore this incredible event, but also dine in our local restaurants, shop our retailers, and stay at our one-of-a-kind bed and breakfasts.

Friday Night Live Events Scheduled throughout 2021

The popular Friday Night Live events returned in January to downtown Brooksville, again hosted in Hernando Park with live music, cocktails, and food trucks mixing for great get-togethers among residents and visitors.

Bring lawn chairs and enjoy the outdoor events on the second Friday of each month through November.

“We are carefully monitoring state and national CDC guidelines and will act to follow these recommendations. The public’s safety is of utmost importance to us. We will plan for the best and move forward in planning our Main Street events with these items in mind. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, and we encourage you to wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” Natalie explains about Brooksville Main Street’s decision to offer outdoor events to the public.

The Florida Mermaid Trail held its Grand Opening on February 29, 2020

On February 29, 2020, twenty-one mermaids “ventured outside the pristine waters of Weeki Wachee to visit Hernando County’s historic city of Brooksville.” according to the Florida Mermaid Trail website.

Each mermaid has been captured in a bronze statue and now lives with its image mounted on buildings located along the Florida Mermaid Trail, along with their name and story explaining why they chose their new residence.

A Mermaid Costume Contest was held at the grand opening celebration for both people and animals, along with some fun mermaid activities for the kids.

Guests were given their very own map created by local artist, Lee Middleton, who was in attendance to autograph copies.

mermaid and merdog
The 2020 Grand Opening of the Florida Mermaid Trail included a costume contest for humans and pets. Image by Kim Poppke.

What is The Florida Mermaid Trail?

“The Florida Mermaid Trail is part scavenger hunt and part historical tour that encourages local residents and visitors to get out and experience the magic of downtown Brooksville, including its small businesses and historic architecture,” says Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street.

Two routes (1.1 mile and 2.2 mile) trek through Main Street, Liberty Street, S. Brooksville Avenue, the Good Neighbor Trail, Jefferson Street, Saxon Avenue, S. Broad Street, and E. Ft. Dade Avenue, guiding participants through local landmarks, businesses, and historic homes along tree-lined and brick-paved streets.

The Florida Mermaid Trail is a fun, healthy activity for all ages to experience in Brooksville

Mermaid Trail map

How the Florida Mermaid Trail Came to Be

The Florida Mermaid Trail was originally proposed to the Hernando County Commission in 2014 by Tom Barnette. At that time, websites and trademarks were purchased. Then the project went dormant.

In 2019, Matt and Bev Lowman of the Lowman Family Foundation resurrected the concept.

“We were visiting Thomasville, Georgia, and Bev found the Quail Trail, where visitors hunt for a covey of quail (18 bronze statues) with their eyes,” Matt explained.

Bev chimed in, “We walked all around Thomasville’s downtown, and we saw all kinds of businesses. On the way home, Matt and I started talking about how we could do a similar thing with mermaids to help people discover the wonderful businesses in downtown Brooksville.”

matt and bev lowman
Matt and Bev Lowman of the Lowman Family Foundation were impressed with the Quail Trail in Thomasville, Georgia, and thought an adaptation would be a good fit for Brooksville. Image by Diane Bedard.

When the Lowmans returned, they reached out to Brooksville’s Main Street and Florida’s Adventure Coast with their idea. Lo and behold, the foundation had been laid years before, just waiting for a team to assemble and see it through!

“As we launched the Florida Mermaid Trail in historic downtown Brooksville last February, little did we know the difficult year we were entering. But many traveled from miles away to seek out adventure and discover not only our hidden mermaids, but our local shops, eateries and landmarks,” said Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street.

A tiny mermaid fan shows us how it’s done with the Florida Mermaid Trail. Image courtesy of Brooksville Main Street.

And many sounds like an understatement. Daily walkers are viewed from the streets hunting for the bronze mermaid statues that adorn twenty-one of Brooksville’s small businesses, museums, and public locales.

The Florida Mermaid Trail has become a Popular Activity for Visitors and Residents

“The Florida Mermaid Trail has been a great addition to the City of Brooksville and our tourism offerings here on Florida’s Adventure Coast. The trail is a safe, socially distant way to get out and see the many different sights of Brooksville; winding thru the historic district and downtown shopping and dining areas, our visitors are discovering new shops and the beauty of the Good Neighbor Trail with each visit.

Word of the trail is spreading, and folks are coming from all around central Florida to explore and find the Mermaids. We’ve had families with three generations all excited to explore the trail and the City.

Many have commented that they discovered a shop they’d never visited or tried out a new restaurant on this trip; many promise to return to explore more and visit the shops again. The trail is incredibly popular and a huge success; we’re thrilled to have partnered with Brooksville Main Street and the Lowman Family Foundation to bring it to life here in Brooksville, “ says Tammy Heon, Manager of Tourism Development at Florida’s Adventure Coast.

The Mirador Bed and Breakfast
One of the stops on the long route offers a view of a chandelier reputed to have cost $2,500 in 1913. Can you find the mermaid in this image? Image by Diane Bedard.

Maps are Available at the Florida’s Adventure Coast Welcome Center

At the Florida’s Adventure Coast Welcome Center, 205 E. Fort Dade Avenue, maps are hung outside in protective bags. If you are able to get there between 10 am and 5 pm, the welcome center is open with brochures for local attractions, adventures, businesses, and a helpful person to assist you in planning your visit to Hernando County. And there is a life-size wildlife diorama to get you in the mood for adventure. And you can get your Mermaid Trail souvenirs.

Pick up your Florida’s Mermaid Trail map from the display outside the Welcome Center or download and use the Distrx app or Florida’s Adventure Coast app on your phone. The trail is open from sunrise to sunset daily, although most businesses are open from 10 am to 5 pm, with some restaurants open later.

floridas adventure coast welcome center sign
The Florida’s Adventure Coast Welcome Center is the first stop for the Florida Mermaid Trail. Image by Diane Bedard.

Discover your Favorite Mermaid with a Colorful Map or App

Each location on the Mermaid Trail is marked on the Florida Mermaid Trail map, with the corresponding letter (short route – 1.1 miles) or number (full route – 2.2 miles) for that location. On the back side of the map, the mermaid who has chosen that location is named, along with her story.

Look for your mermaid at that location. Some jump out at you and others are not so easy to find. Some call out for a selfie, and others called for solo shots. As you enjoy your walk and post your adventures, be sure to tag them #FLMermaidTrail

You can also use the Florida’s Adventure Coast app or the Distrx App on Apple and Android phones. Just download the app and begin!

All-in-all, the Florida Mermaid Trail has been a wonderful addition to Hernando County and Florida’s Adventure Coast, as well as the Nature Coast.

Comments

Sharon Cihak Elliott says

Congratulations on your 1st Mermaid trail event. last year. Star my dog & I dressed up as mermaids,we had a wonderful day. I moved to Brooksville in 1961 to be a Weeki Wachee Mermaid.l have had the opportunity to see Brooksville grow. So come out this year & enjoy the celebration of the Mermaid trail.

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Gail says

Where is Fort Dade Fl..

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Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Fort Dade Avenue is primarily in downtown Brooksville, running 1 block off of Jefferson Street. It is the street where Hernando Park, the post office and the Hernando Bandshell are located on.

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