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Cellular South – Ericsson Ole Brook moves downtown for 2000

The 26th Cellular South-Ericcson Ole Brook Festival returns tothe downtown area this weekend for two days of shopping andentertainment.

After several years at the Brookhaven Sports Complex, vendorbooths this year will line Whitworth Avenue starting Friday at 6p.m. and continuing Saturday at 8 a.m. With the festival downtown,Ole Brook Chairman John Chance said it will be easier to find andgive festival-goers other shopping options.

“A lot of downtown merchants can really benefit from having thatmany people walk in front of their businesses,” Chance said.

The new location is apparently paying dividends in the area ofvendor totals.

“We are already guaranteed to have more than we had last year,”Chance said, citing a total of 80 vendors signed up to have booths.”More are coming in every day. I’m getting calls all the time.”

Previous downtown area festival locations included the WhitworthCollege campus and Brookhaven Elementary School. While space orother factors limited the festival from being held in those places,Chance said having the festival in downtown gives merchants anotherchance to market themselves to shoppers.

“It’s a chance to bring some added attention to downtown,”Chance said.

Chance said festival plans have received a good response fromdowntown merchants, some of whom plan to set up shop on the streetduring the event. Also, other businesses have been verysupportive.

“We’re thankful to all the area businesses and people who haveprovided things for the event,” Chance said, while also mentioningthe city government, police and fire officials and Entergyofficials for their assistance.

With the state arts school locating on the Whitworth campus,Chance said the festival wanted to include the campus and build upto bigger and better activities there in the future.

Also Friday night, the Bluz Boys will have a concert in RailroadPark. A street party will be held in conjunction with theconcert.

Saturday’s activities begin at 8 a.m. with the Ole Brook 5K run.It is a 5K (mile) run that will begin at the Farm Bureau office onWest Cherokee Street and go through the historic downtowndistrict.

Other attractions this year include musical entertainmentthroughout the day Saturday, an antique vehicles tractor and enginedisplay, King’s Daughters Medical Center Health Fair andhorse-drawn carriage rides through the city’s Victorian District.Chance said the carriage rides were a popular attraction earlierthis year during the Tour of Homes.

Returning this year with an added twist is the Pork-Beef-ChickenCook-Off. This year, festival organizers have added chili to thecompetition list.

“We’ll see who’s got the best and the hottest,” Chance said.

Another new attraction will be T-shirts for sale featuringartwork by a local artist. This year, Dr. Kim Sessums’ drawings ofdowntown buildings will be the featured artwork on the shirts.

“We’ll be looking for other local artists in the future to dothings like that,” Chance said.