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Blueberries abound at 25th festival

By By JULIE RUSSELL and MICHELE GERLACH
Blueberries.
Blueberry ice cream, blueberry crumble, blueberry bushes.
Blueberry muffins, blueberry purses, blueberry vinegar.
Blueberry cider, blueberry preserves, blueberry pepper jelly.
All things blueberry were available at Saturday's Alabama Blueberry Festival, which marked the event's 25th anniversary.
Fred Dixon has participated in each of those festivals, selling blueberry bushes from his nursery. Dixon cultivates the bushes, and said the plants will often make berries before they are mature enough to be moved out of the hothouse.
Dixon had between 600 and 700 bushes available in various stages of growth. As a general rule, he sells all of the plants he has available during the festival.
East Brewton Community of Christ Church also is a long-standing festival vendor. Ellie Hammac said the church has had the festival's Polish sausage concession since 1994.
In addition to Polish sausages, the group prepared 666 blueberry tarts and more than 150 blueberry muffins.
Linda Evans of White Apple Farms from Natchez prepared blueberry cider especially for the local festival, selling it along with assorted preserves and blueberry pepper jelly.
Among the most creative vendors was Marie Thaxter of Atlanta and her "Dazzle Dos." For $8, she was transforming young girls' hair into elaborate "up-dos" featuring ribbons, dum-dum suckers, and painted hair.
Although early-morning rain threatened to put a damper on the festival, Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce president Will Ruzic said the turnout was good.
The chamber organizes the event.
Weekend events kicked off Friday night with a street dance featuring The Sawmill Band and sponsored by The Brewton Kiwanis Club. Club members sold hamburgers, ice cold drinks and chips while the Brewton Lions Club members sold t-shirts.
Ruzic was especially pleased with the street dance and thinks it will be included again next year.
Ruzic said the Chamber is considering adding a "motorcycle rally," which would allow motorists to "see nature and sights throughout the area" before putting their "bikes on display for the day."