Havana good time

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Festival pulls crowd

By Robert Allen

Artists and vendors lined the streets of Havana beginning at 8 a.m. on May 17 for the city’s Havana Day Festival. By 10 a.m. the side streets were busy with families as they perused through the merchants’ wares and the vendors’ fares. 


Robert Derwick was one of the artists visiting the festival. He brought along a display of his sea-inspired glass art. His wife Tammy Derwick’s artwork was also present. She primarily depicts mermaid figures, rendered in pencil or watercolor. 

“I found out about the festival and I wanted to come out, enjoy the day, and sell my art work,” said the glass artist. 

Derwick, who has been doing class work for 40 years, said his art is all original. He indicated high hopes for the day.

“It can only get better from here, right?” said Derwick. “We’ve got some music coming. Cold beers right over there, close by. It’s a nice day to be in Havana.” 

The Gadsden County Humane Society occupied a central location at the street festival. They brought along several excited dogs and a few curious puppies for the big day. 

“We’re trying to raise awareness that Gadsden County Humane Society exists,” said Michele Vaught, president of the organization. “We’re the only animal rescue group here in Gadsden County, and we don’t get any state or local funding.”

Later in the afternoon and into the evening, the organization organized a battle-of-the-bands-style show featuring several local groups. According to Vaught, the humane society’s fundraising goal for the show was $10,000.

“Basically that is going to go to pay our vet bills,” said Vaught, “and of course have a little left over for upcoming vet bills.”

Many of the animals the society brought along were looking for permanent homes — which is especially critical for the organization, according to Vaught, because they rely strictly on foster homes in the meanwhile rather than any shelter facility.

Thorn Riley, a bone carver, jewelry maker and leather worker, was another artisan who appeared at the festival. He described his work as mostly Native American influenced.

“I hand carve all the bone pieces — every piece of bone on every piece of jewelry,” said Thorn. 

The carver, who has lived “all over the South,” shared some of the glass worker’s good feelings: “I’m hoping to sell out.”