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New names, new place highlight of year’s festival

New names and a new place are in store for one of the area’smost-anticipated annual events, which organizers believe will beone of the best ever.

The Ole Brook Festival, which is Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday,Oct. 7, has undergone two major changes this year. First, theevent’s name has been changed to the Cellular South-Ericcson OleBrook Festival as Cellular South-Ericcson became corporate sponsorsof the event, said John Chance, festival chairman.

“We couldn’t have done anything without them,” said Chance.

The biggest change, however, is the new location for the event.The festival has been moved from the Brookhaven Sports Complex,where it’s been for the past several years, to downtownBrookhaven.

Chance, who is also new to the event, is excited about workingwith the festival and believes all the changes will be beneficialfor the browsers, vendors and the downtown merchants.

“In order to revitalize the festival, we (the festivalcommittee) thought it would be best to bring it back downtown,”Chance said.

Years ago when the festival first began, it was held on thecampus of Brookhaven Elementary School and drew hundreds of vendorsalone, Chance explained.

Moving the festival to downtown will not only give more peoplebetter access to the festival, but provide more exposure ofBrookhaven’s downtown area and businesses, he said.

“We have one of the most thriving downtown areas in the state ofMississippi. Nearly all our buildings are full and renovated andthe area is landscaped,” Chance said. “This is a chance to showcaseour downtown area. We encourage all of our merchants to stay pasttheir normal hours those days and take advantage of the thousandsthat will be here.”

This year’s event will feature two nights of entertainment, foodand arts and crafts. The Friday night concert and gospel singingare only the beginning of a fun-filled weekend for everyone, Chancesaid.

Activities kick off Friday night at 6 p.m. in the parking lotbehind the log cabin with gospel singing featuring several localartists.

“We’ve got a full lineup of local gospel acts,” Chance said.

The gospel singing will be followed by a Bluz Boys concert,which is free to the public, said Chance.

“We feel fortunate to be able to get the Bluz Boys,” hesaid.

All the Bluz Boys music is styled from the Bluz Boys movie,Chance said. The Jackson-area group features a 15-plus member bandand orchestra that has charmed audiences around the state.

“They’re very interactive with the crowd. We’re expecting thatto be excellent,” said Chance.

He believes the music will be something everyone can enjoy.

“It’s good family music; we think all ages will like it,” hesaid.

Bleachers will be available for seating, but festival goers areinvited to bring their own lawn chairs, he said. In addition to theentertainment, several booths will also be set up Friday for earlyshoppers to browse.

Over 70 regular vendors are already registered for the festival,and there is still plenty of time to be included, said Chance.

“We’re only one vendor behind where we were last year and thereis still time left. We’re assured to be larger this year,” hesaid.

Saturday’s activities begin at 8 a.m. with the Ole Brook 5K run,an event that was brought back to the festival from years ago. Itis a 5K (mile) run that will begin at the Farm Bureau office onWest Cherokee Street and go through the historic downtowndistrict.

“It’s a little nicer, safer and better scenery,” Chancesaid.

Following the Ole Brook run, there will be entertainment, foodcourt, an arts and crafts sale, children’s games, antique vehicletractor and engine display and horse-drawn carriage tours of theVictorian district.

The Pork, Beef, Chicken and Chili cook-off will return this yearand always promises to be exciting, Chance said.

“We’ve put a new twist on the contest this year. We wanted totry to get more people to come out and try their recipes.”

To add to the day’s events, King’s Daughters Medical Center willbe sponsoring a health fair in the downstairs area of TrustmarkBank. There will be free blood pressure screenings and specialspeakers on the second floor who will address special healthtopics.

Another new addition to the festival is memorabilia T-shirts forsale that will feature an original pencil drawing of local artistDr. Kim Sessums. The committee is hoping to feature the work of adifferent artist on a T-shirt every year, said Chance.

As time winds down to the event, Chance encourages all to showtheir support by attending the festival. Local law enforcement andhospital officials will be on hand to make sure everyone isprotected that day, he said. Saturday’s events will culminate at 4p.m.