Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meet, greet and eat compliments of the Hernando County Chamber

Pleasant night for the Newcomer's Reception at Weeki Wachee.
There was a huge crowd at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Friday evening. And for a change they weren't mermaid watching. Hernando County residents who attended the Newcomers Reception came for the swag, literature, food sampling and maybe a little peacock watching. The annual event presented by the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce is meant to showcase their business members' offerings and provide information about county recreation and amenities.

OK, it is an annual business fair/health fair/resident reception/area food tasting. Big deal -- and it was. So on a late summer evening on Florida's Nature Coast, where else would provide such a beautiful setting and bring young, old, singles, couples and families out in droves?

Yes, now that we've lived in Hernando County for four years, we've made our way around to restaurants. We've found auto and homeowners services that we've needed, medical assistance and met some county officials and personnel. We have our bearings now and that made the Chamber's event more relevant and fun. I can tell by the turnout, we weren't the only not-so-newbies to attend.

I have to admit, we generally view these affairs as a "freebie office supply fair." We wouldn't have attended if it were held anywhere else. We didn't attend this event when we were officially newcomers and received an invitation. Back then, we would grab the freebies and stuff, but not so much would sink in about this new place we call home.

There was a lot of everything. You could -- and many did -- go from line to line, getting tasty samples provided by many of the area eateries, from soup, entrees and dessert. "Did you try the bread pudding?" was a familiar comment folks would call out to each other. We took information from a tree and landscape service for a new neighbor who wants to refresh an overgrown cedar tree. Never knew about the community garden just outside of Brooksville. Got the lowdown on plays to be presented at Stage West this fall and winter season, Found out there are so many health care associations and coverage plans. You can plan a funeral for yourself and/or your pet, discover and fix sinkholes, join the Chamber or other area organizations, hook up with a Realtor. The list of presenters from Friday night is very long.
Commissioner Diane Rowden wants this
 Oreion from Halo Autosports.

Just when we started feeling overwhelmed by the energetic atmosphere and weighted down with many bags filled with pens, pencils, papers, fridge magnets, key chains, packets of wildflower seeds and more,  we spotted a familiar face. Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden was in the drivers' seat (as always) of this really cool Oreion Reeper on display from Halo Autosports, and she's with her husband adnd sidekick Jay Rowden. We wander over to chat . BTW, the Orein is a crossover vehicle built by the Hummer people in New Mexico. Looks like a perfect ride for Nature Coast traveling.

There were a few candidate's booths set up, looking for voters' support which seems a waste of time and money for the Republican incumbents. Hernando is a Republican heavy county and  Rowden is the ONLY Democrat county official, for now. Jimmy Lodato is putting up a fierce battle for a County Commission seat.

Diane and Jay Rowden
Commissioner Rowden came to our aide earlier this year, when a home in our neighborhood was overrun by cats. She got help from the Lakeland SPCA which was able to capture more than 70 cats and find most of them homes or have been placed in foster homes. So, we have great respect and are grateful for her friendship. It always feel more like home when you run into people (personalities) that you know on first-name basis. Jay, who is a veteran campaigner, recently lost out in his bid for school board member. But that doesn't keep him from wanting to make county schools better. He discussed some projects he is currently involved with, like alleviating long student pick up lines at some of the schools. This couple is always busy making things better.

Oh yes, the peacocks. While we were chatting with the Rowdens a mother and chick hung out, nearby, maybe to listen, mostly to peck at insects in the lawn and pose for photos. Dad went on his merry way, displaying his colorful tail feathers for all those interested in watching. I think the peacocks look forward to having the evening to themselves sans mermaids -- occasionally.
Peacock hen and chick entertain the crowd.

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