City celebration enters home stretch

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2008

Only 14 weeks remain in Brookhaven’s yearlong, 150th birthdaycelebration, and the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee isfinalizing plans to wind the party down.

The final months’ activities will begin with a bang next weekwith the 34th annual Ole Brook Festival and end in grandeur with2008’s installment of the Tour of Homes, with plenty of activitiesto honor the old days in between.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said next week’s Ole Brook Festival willshed some light on the city’s past through its events and itslocation in general.

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“Thousands of festival-goers will flood our streets on Sept. 20and get a glimpse of how Brookhaven has developed over the yearswhile holding onto many historical downtown attributes that makeour downtown as beautiful as it is,” he said.

Brumfield said the festival’s hosting of the Old South EngineClub and its many putt-putt, early 20th century gasoline engineswill also serve as a window into the past.

“It brings great insight into our past and the many machinesthat helped form part of the Industrial Revolution that was vitalto this railroad town’s flourishing over the years,” he said.

The Southwest Mississippi Amateur Radio Club will also beon-hand at Ole Brook to use their ham radios to announce the city’sbirthday party internationally.

Brumfield said the excitement over the city’s 150-yearcelebration may have played a role in making this year’s Ole BrookFestival one of the biggest – if not the biggest – festivalever.

The Lincoln County Forestry Association is already celebratingthis month. It has a display of photos and memorabilia showing 150years of forestry in the county on display at the Lincoln CountyPublic Library.

October will be the 150th celebration’s Education Month, andsteering committee member Shannon Clark is organizing a 150-themedart and essay competition in local schools.

The art contest is available for students in grades threethrough six, while the essay contest will include seventh and 12thgraders. Both contests will be based around the theme of “Living inBrookhaven/Lincoln County in 2008,” Clark said.

Clark said there will be cash prizes for the first, second andthird place winners in each category, and the winning pieces willdisplayed at the Bank of Brookhaven, which is sponsoring thecontest.

Entry forms are available at the chamber. The deadline forentering the contest is Oct. 10.

In November, the city’s age will be honored in The DAILYLEADER’s 31st annual Wooden Spoon cookbook. Lifestyles EditorTammie Brewer said this year’s edition of the cookbook will featurea special section of reader-submitted recipes that span back intothe old times.

“As a way to kind of pull in the 150th anniversary, we areadding a special category of hand-me-down recipes – old familyrecipes,” she said.

Brewer said interested kitchen artists may begin submittingrecipes next week. The rules for the cookbook will also be releasednext week. She said the cookbook usually draws in more than 200recipe submissions each year in various categories and hopes thisyear’s Wooden Spoon will bring in more “old favorites.”

The cookbook will be published on Nov. 14.

December will officially end the city’s birthday part foranother 50 years until the next generation celebrates thebicentennial in 2058.

Steering Committee Chairwoman Rita Rich said the finalcelebrations will be the annual Christmas parade and Tour ofHomes.

This year, she said, the parade on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. will reflectthe city’s 150 years by decorating the floats to old-timeyspecifications.

The main attraction, however, is the Tour of Homes, which thisyear will take tourists throughout Brookhaven’s baby – the downtownarea. The tour begins at 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Rich said the buildings’ history would speak for itself.

“I think it will be really exciting to see what the buildingsused to look like inside and what they look like now,” she said.”We’re restoring these buildings back to what they used to looklike. In the 1950s and 1960s, they took off the actual store frontsthat where there. Now, they’re tearing those fronts out and makingthem look more like they did originally.”

When all the celebrations are over, Rich said the steeringcommittee plans to bury – or store – a time capsule somewhere inBrookhaven to preserve 2008 for the next celebration.