Blueberry draws crowds
Published 2:25 am Wednesday, June 21, 2006
By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing Editor
The Alabama Blueberry Festival brought in larger crowds Saturday, despite concerns among festival coordinators the torrential downpour the day before would continue through the next day.
Craig Klenk, chairman of this year's festival, said despite the 35 mph winds and rainfall the night before, the 26th annual Blueberry Festival went well.
This year was the first time the Blueberry Festival was held in downtown Brewton. It previously was held on the campus of Jefferson Davis Community College.
It has only been a few days after the festival, but Klenk said he and Chamber of Commerce officials are starting to think of ideas for next year's festival “to tweak it and make it better.”
The first aid station will primarily consist of a tent with fans, misters and chairs set up for visitors waiting for the ECAT shuttle.
Klenk said festival coordinators want to bring back more vendors. He said a few vendors had to be turned away because organizers wanted to keep the festival smaller this year.
Traffic congestion was on the minds of many residents and festival coordinators. But Klenk said many regular visitors said the traffic was better this year because officers weren't trying to “funnel everyone up the hill” toward the campus. Many people were parking downtown or using the shuttle service.
Police Chief Monte McGougin said his department reported minor problems consisting of a couple of people who passed out from the heat.
The antique car show and motorcycle show lured large crowds. Originally, only 40 to 50 cars were expected to be on show, but Klenk said at least 90 were on display.
Someone who had not been quiet about expressing his concern about the change in venue was Kiwanis Club member Danny Cottrell, Klenk said. But by the end of the day he said Cottrell met him and said, “You guys really pulled this thing off.”
The main coordinator of the Brewton Kiwanis Club's vending spot, Cottrell has been a major part of the Blueberry Festival since its inception.
Cottrell said his biggest concern was getting people downtown to the festival. But at the end he praised the police department and said, “apparently they did real well.”
The Blueberry Festival is one of the Kiwanis Club's biggest fundraisers.
Hog Heaven, another food vendor at the festival, sold out of barbecue, downtown restaurants reported great turnouts and East Brewton Mayor Terry Clark completely sold out of ducks this year, Klenk said.
The ducks go toward East Brewton's Fourth of July duck race. Clark typically sells 150 ducks at the festival but ran out when his cache of 250 ducks were quickly snatched up.