Rita abbreviates Ole Brook Festival

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

The 31st annual Ole Brook Festival was abbreviated this yeardespite the best efforts of organizers to provide some healing anddistraction from the recovery of Hurricane Katrina.

Ironically, the abbreviated festival was blown away by thethreat of Hurricane Rita as it spawned high winds and tornadoesthat killed at least one person in the state.

The festival opened Friday with a smaller number of vendors thanusual. That number dropped during the course of the day because fewpeople braved the wind and rain to shop.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Russell Autin, of Tylertown, struck his tie-dyed T-shirt boothearly Friday.

“We’ve done this show every year,” Autin said. “It’s usually agood crowd Friday night, but not this year.”

Autin applauded festival organizers for going forward with theevent, saying it would have been a good distraction to takepeople’s mind off the hurricane. He said he would be back nextyear.

“This is nobody’s fault. You can’t control this,” he said.

Autin said he had four relatives from Louisiana staying with himin Tylertown. He said they came while fleeing from HurricaneKatrina.

“I don’t think they’re going to leave anytime soon,” Autinsaid.

Vendor booths did not open Saturday, but a free concert thatevening featuring the popular Christian group New Song continuedunabated. The concert had been moved Thursday from the downtownstage to Easthaven Baptist Church on account of the weather.

The size of the festival prohibits its rescheduling, said CliffBrumfield, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce. The tremendous cost of the event and thelimited number of weekends left in the year makes rescheduling notfeasible, he said.

In the 31-year history of the festival, this is the second timeit’s been rained out, Brumfield said.