• 68°

Downtown festival huge success

A damp Friday evening turned into a beautiful Saturday asthousands of visitors enjoyed the 26th Annual CellularSouth-Ericsson Ole Brook Festival.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce officialsdescribed the event, which was moved this year from the sportscomplex back to downtown, as a “huge success.”

“The move to downtown Brookhaven generated great anticipation,”said John Chance, Ole Brook Festival chairman, “and when it finallyarrived, it was better than expected.”

Some damp, drizzly weather Friday evening impacted the crowdsome and kept a few vendors from setting up their booths. However,crowds more than compensated for that Saturday.

“It’s amazing who much traffic we had Saturday to make up forFriday,” Chance said.

Despite Friday’s weather, Chance said the Bluz Boys got a greatresponse from the audience. He said the festival was fortunate tohave the band and they put on a great show.

Festival activities picked up early Saturday morning with theOle Brook run.

Mentioning comments from a neighboring festival organizer,Chance said the downtown area was meant to have festivals. He saidvisitors indicated they could come to festival early, go home torest or watch a game and then return to downtown, whereas theymight not have gone back to the sports complex.

Chance also commented on how well organized the festival was asfar as shopping convenience and access to over 125 vendorbooths.

“Folks loved having a special food vendor space,” Chance said.”They did absolutely well.”

Speaking of food, the Pork-Beef-Chicken-Chili Cookoff wasanother success. Sarah Foster, event organizer, said the additionof the chili category was a good move.

“We had more entries in it than any other category,” Fostersaid.

In the new category, Lolly Graves, of Liberty, took first placehonors. The State Bank team of Phillip and Mary Price wassecond.

First place in the Pork category went to Phillip Price, of StateBank. The Union Planters team of Preston Morse, Randy Sykes andV.C. Nations was second.

The Union Planters team captured first place honors in both theBeef and Chicken categories while Scott Young of Cellular South wassecond in the Beef category. Union Planters was the only entry inthe Chicken category.

Chandler Russ, chamber of commerce executive vice-president,said all indications were that everyone was pleased.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from vendors andvisitors,” Russ said. “Most of the downtown businesses had gooddays as well.”

Russ said organizers would be considering some changes nextyear, but this year’s event was very successful.

Russ and Chance expressed appreciation to festival committeemembers, chamber officials and volunteers, especially Kenny Goza ofEntergy and City Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Furlow, for theirhard work with the festival.

“We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers,” Russsaid.