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Chamber making plans for bigger Ole Brook Fest

The dates for the 33rd year of the Ole Brook Festival are fastapproaching and festival organizers are excited about their plansfor the event, although they’re still searching for sponsorshipsfor the yearly gala.

This year’s festival, which will be held September 14-16, hasexpanded to include activities for the younger crowd on Fridaynight, as well as a worship service on Sunday morning.

Saturday’s entertainment features headlining contemporaryChristian group Newsong, as they stop in as a part of their 2007Rescue Tour. Newsong’s “Arise My Love” was voted Song of the Decadein 2000.

Rounding out Newsong’s touring contingent as well as thefestival itself are musical acts Echoing Angels, Jimmy Needham,Nate Sallie, and the emcee will be illusionist BJ Harris.

Kenny Goza, who is helping to head up the event, said organizerswant Ole Brook to be something families can attend together.

“We’ve really zeroed in on making this be a total family event,”said Goza.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfieldsaid the family nature of the gala is what separates it from otherfestivals of its nature.

“This way parents can bring their kids and not feel compelled toleave at any certain time of the day when alcohol or beer mightcome into play at a different festival,” said Brumfield. “Parentsdon’t have to think twice about staying as long as they want.”

Livening up the kids’ tent will be popular kids’ characters Boband Larry from the popular kids’ show “Veggie Tales.”

“We’re very excited about the Veggie Tales coming,” said Goza.”It really adds to the family emphasis and is our biggest draw forthe kids.”

Goza said the personality of Brookhaven and Lincoln County madethe decision on the Christian theme and family atmosphere easy.

“It’s a good fit for a dry county,” he said. “You don’t havealcohol, and you can’t do all the beer stuff, plus there areseveral other events of that nature in middle and southMississippi. This is something different everyone can getbehind.”

So far, organizers say, vendors are lining up faster than everbefore in the past.

“We’re excited about that,” said Goza. “Vendor applications arecoming in left and right, and we’re having phone calls every day.We’re three to four weeks ahead of schedule as far as filling boothspace.”

Usually some festival vendors will wait until the last minute tosee how the weather turns out before making a commitment, butBrumfield said that doesn’t seem to be the case with some of thisyear’s booths.

“It seems like they’re betting on good weather,” he said. “Andfor us, success would be filling every booth space.”

Brumfield said the festival has several premiere sponsors linedup, such as the Bank of Brookhaven, Easthaven Baptist Church, andThrift Home Care, but is also still seeking additional sponsorshipsfrom other businesses in the area.

“We’re still looking for sponsors,” he said. “We’re greatly inneed of approximately $2,000 or we’ll be reaching into our chamberreserve money, which is actually targeted to support and grow ourlocal business and tax base.”

Anyone interested in helping with the sponsorships is asked tocontact the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce at (601)833-1411.