First GRITS Festival kicks off this weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

It’s only days away. The signs are up all over town.

You can almost hear the banjos and dulcimers, see all the smiling faces… most importantly, you can practically smell those good ol’ grits.

This Saturday, Oct. 30, Greenville Main Street will host the First Annual Greenville GRITS Festival downtown from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in historic Confederate Park.

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After several successful years bringing Oktoberfest to the Camellia City, this year the organization decided to switch gears and create a theme that was altogether southern and one certainly suitable for L.A.(Lower Alabama).

‘Always something fun’

Main Street Director Nancy Idland promises an event that will offer a great experience for the whole family.

&uot;I guarantee, no matter what time you arrive during the day – there will always be something fun going on at the GRITS Festival for you to enjoy,&uot; she says.

A full slate of entertainment is offered to GRITS attendees, including double sets by popular local bluegrass-gospel performers Southern Comfort and Wild West show performer Bruce Brannen.

&uot;Imagine That!&uot; from Mobile will also return to delight young and old alike with their mix of storytelling, nature and theatre in a tent. Native son, singer-songwriter Matt Shepherd, will perform on the GRITS stage that day. And Gary Ledbetter will once again bring his special blend of humor to his popular magic show.

&uot;We also have, coming back by popular demand, our wonderful caricature artist Bill Jackson – everybody loves his work,&uot; Idland enthuses.

A Grits Cook-Off is planned for the morning and the Main Street director encourages all Greenville’s great grits cooks to bring their best grits dishes to the park by 10:30 a.m. for the judging.

‘Kids will love it’

Children’s activities, including colorful face painting and a variety of fun seasonal crafts, will be part of the Greenville GRITS Festival. There are also several kids’ activities planned, including a rock climbing tower and moonwalk, for which a small fee will be charged. &uot;Kids have always enjoyed Oktoberfest and we know they are going to LOVE our new GRITS Festival,&uot; says Idland.

A browser’s delight

Forty-plus vendors are lined up to sell their wares at the GRITS Festival, Idland says, making the day a veritable browser’s delight.

&uot;We have so many wonderful things that will be on sale that day – pottery, children’s clothing, stained glass, fine art, all sort of crafts, jewelry, handbags, accessories – the list goes on. It will be a great day to do some early holiday shopping and support local businesses, artists and artisans while you are at it,&uot; Idland says.

Among those slated to display their goods and creations at the event are Tammy Gaston of Tadpoles and Tulips Children’s Clothing; Dale Gates, award-winning local stained glass artisan; Rosie Floyd Richardson, potter; Austin Bowman, wood craftsman and Rosemary Jordan, who will display her handcrafted mosaics. McFerrin’s Jewelry is also planning to offer a collection of unique decorative items at bargain prices, Idland says.

Folks will also have a chance to try to outbid their friends and family on great bargains while they help the community.

&uot;We have a fun Silent Auction planned for the event. We’ll be offering wonderful items donated by our Main Street businesses and others…for example, Main Street Movies has donated a fabulous movie basket. All the monies raised will go to support Main Street’s downtown revitalization projects,&uot; explains Idland.

Take a stroll

This year, the streets immediately surrounding Confederate Park will be blocked off, and Idland wants to remind everyone to consider other parking areas just a short stroll from the park.

&uot;We would like our vendors to have access to the closest parking spaces, so we encourage folks coming to the festival to park behind CenturyTel and at the Piggly Wiggly lot nearby,&uot; she says.

Admission to the Greenville GRITS Festival is free. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the fairgrounds exhibit hall.

However, Idland and her large group of willing volunteers are counting on blue skies come Saturday.

&uot;We have had so many wonderful volunteers working with us on this event. And our great folks from AmeriCorps will be back to help with our kids’ crafts and activities. I just know it’s going to be a great day for Greenville!&uot;

For more information concerning the Greenville GRITS Festival, call

(334) 382-3041 or (334) 382-8729.