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Ole Brook Festival expanded

Expanded activities and expanded selling times for vendors areon tap for this year’s Ole Brook Festival, set for Sept. 27-28 indowntown Brookhaven, event organizers say.

The 28th annual festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 27, at 8 a.m.in downtown Brookhaven and continues with a full day of shoppingopportunities offered by a wide variety of vendors. Festivalorganizers were pleased with the response so far.

“We’ll have over 200 vendors this year,” said John Chance, OleBrook Festival chairman. “This will be our biggest festival inrecent history.”

Chance said this year’s festival will feature longer days bothFriday and Saturday. Compared to last year, the festival is openingearlier on Friday and closing later on Saturday.

“We’ve expanded both days,” Chance said.

Chance said the festival will feature two stages: a main stagein the north Railroad Avenue parking lot and an arts stage near theWhitworth College campus on West Cherokee Street. The arts stagewill host a variety of local Christian gospel artists, a Christianmagician and other acts.

“We have a full plate of local entertainment Friday,” Chancesaid.

Making a return visit this year will be Inky the Clown and hisInkymobile.

“We’ll have Inky for two full days,” Chance said. “He was a bighit last year.”

An expanded children’s area will be another highlight this year,Chance said. The area will have a 35-feet inflatable slide, aninflatable obstacle course, a rock-climbing wall and moregames.

Kicking off Saturday at 8 a.m. will be the Mid-South Fair YouthTalent Contest. The winner of this year’s contest, which will endat noon Saturday, will go on to compete in the 2003 national talentcontest.

“All the slots are filled,” Chance said about contest sign-up.”Some of the talent in the contest will be singing later Saturdayas well.”

Saturday’s events conclude with a free Christian concert,featuring New Song, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. New Song, which was thehighlight of last year’s festival, returns this year with fellowChristian artists Brother’s Keeper, Rachel Lampa and FreddieColloca.

This year’s concert was moved from its usual Friday night timeslot. Chance cited organizers’ desire to avoid a conflict withBrookhaven High School homecoming activities, and said the Saturdayconcert would end the festival on a high note.

“This was a way to culminate the festival with a grand finale,”Chance said.

Chance expressed appreciation to Bank of Brookhaven as thefestival’s title sponsor. He said organizers are expecting a bigcrowd for this year’s event.

“We want everybody to come,” Chance said. “We’ve gotten a goodresponse, and we are becoming known as the premier family festivalin the state.”