Calico Fort gears up for 39th year
By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal
For nearly 40 years, Ft. Deposit has been host to numerous activities, events and festivals. However, one particular festival, The Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair, has stood above the rest in terms of participation and entertainment.
The Ft. Deposit Arts and Activities council was created in 1970 by Mayor Bobby Davis and a group of interested citizens with the goal of promoting love and knowledge of arts and related topics.
Numerous events including The Rainer Twins in Piano Concert, well known bands Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller as well as dinner theatre events through the Troy State University Arts Department have drawn large audiences to the small town.
To assist in funding for these events, Calico Fort was created and added to the promotion of arts and crafts.
In its 39th year, Calico Fort is a way for citizens of Lowndes County to reunite with family and friends and enjoy the entertaining activities.
“Calico never grows old because there is always something new and exciting,” said Arts Council member Frieda Cross. “It has always been an exciting time.”
The event was initiated by a group of citizens whose goal was to promote the town of Ft. Deposit and to draw the attention of visitors with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
With the help of neighbors, children and friends alike, brier brushes, limbs, pine combs and kudzu vines were cleared in preparation for the celebration.
Volunteers constructed a fort-like fence and Indian tepee to match the setting of old, rustic buildings to set the theme of the event.
Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair opened its doors on April 8, 1972 to an estimated 5,000 visitors and 155 exhibitors displaying a variety of antiques, arts and homemade crafts for observers.
The event has been a host to Indian Dancers, story tellers, clowns, musicians, glass blowing and weaving demonstrations to amuse visitors while ceramics, candles and jewelry have been made in front of guests for those looking for a break from shopping and browsing.
“It’s absolutely fascinating what people are capable of making,” said Cross.
The two-day show has grown over the years and has become host to approximately 300 exhibitors from fifteen states, which is the maximum number the event will accommodate.
Proceeds from the event have enabled the city of Ft. Deposit to purchase items for the municipal complex, a new ambulance for the town, a new van as transportation for senior citizens, assisted in furnishing a reception area in the Juvenile Detention Center and the jaws of life and support equipment for the Volunteer Rescue Squad.
The city has also purchased a fire truck for the towns Volunteer Fire Department, bought radios and a cruiser for the Police Department.
This year musical artists The Southern Gentleman bluegrass band, The Dixie Stompers clogging group, Hank Williams impersonator Ricky Fitzgerald, The Woodall Gospel Singers, a capella oldies group Blast from the Past, and vocalists Billy Studstill and Rennie McNaughton will perform at the amphitheatre.
Activities will be available for everyone including a petting zoo, pony rides, marionette puppets, and inflatable bouncing rooms for children.
One exhibitor who will have Indian memorabilia will be demonstrating the construction an Indian dugout canoe.
Calico Fort will also have food available for its visitors including chicken barbeque plates, pork barbeque, hotdogs, funnel cakes, homemade ice cream served over apple dumplings and “some of the best roasted corn anyone has ever put in their mouth,” said Cross.
Groups of under-privileged children such as The Boys and Girls Ranch and the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian Children’s Homes are invited to Calico Fort each year as guests for a day.
The Indian Dancers from the Talladega School of Deaf and blind performed in the Amphitheater during the event for many years.
Calico Fort will be held the weekend of April 10 and 11 from 9 am until 5 pm. Admission will be $4 for adults and $1 for children.