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Food, music and crafts on tap for Saturday’s Okra Festival

By Barbara Evans
Special to The Signal

It’s that time again! The okra is ready, and that means the annual Alabama Okra Festival takes place in Lowndes County.

Now the festival honors the mighty okra, but it’s much more than that.

We’ll have live music! This year we feature Jerome Hardy and Da Collage, who will perform all types of music.

We may have some other live performances. The Hall Sisters will perform freedom songs.

And artists are expected from everywhere, selling hand made jewelry, quilts, paintings and all sorts of things.

And then there’s the food. Oh, the food!

Freshly canned preserves, starring Annie Mae’s pickled okra. Fried fish, pig ear sandwiches, greens, fried okra, okra pie, peas and gumbo… just about everything a person could want.

The festival began as a neighborhood gathering, but over the last 11 years we’ve had visitors from all over the world, and it has been billed as one of the top ten things to do in Alabama.

It’s laid back, with no pressure. People park in a field and walk a short distance to the festival, held in a little neighborhood.

We encourage folks to dress for the country and to avoid sandals. Fire ants love sandals!

All artists and craftspeople (from everywhere) are invited to sell their wares.

There are no vendor fees, but we are asking that each vendor makes a donation to the Blackbelt Community Foundation, and it’s tax deductible.

Only people who live in Lowndes County can sell food. It’s our chance for churches, non profits and families to make a little money.

The event brings people into the county, and we encourage them to continue down 80 to White Hall and visit the impressive Lowndes Interpretive Center detailing the struggle for human rights.

Annie Mae’s Place hosts the event. It’s a tiny little shack filled with art and history, and folks sign the walls and floors.

Kids get their faces painted under the trees.

People interact and get along. And early signs are that the weather will be good.

Burkville is a small community located off Highway 80.

When traveling down 80, you wouldn’t even know it was there. It’s a quiet neighborhood filled with good people, and many participate.

Folks are selling fresh vegetables and fruits.

There’s hand made soap, natural cosmetics and candles. You may be able to ride a real camel!

This is a labor of love, showcasing what can happen when folks put aside their differences and come together for a good time.

The event is sponsored by the Blackbelt Community Foundation, and by two of our forward-thinking county commissioners, Dickson Farrior and Joseph Barganier.

Spread the word! Check out the website at www.okrafestival.org.

You can find directions on that website.

If you are an artist or craftsperson and want to sell, don’t call.

Just show up about 8 or 9 a.m. with your tent, table and chairs and find a spot.

You cannot sell out of a vehicle; but there’s plenty of free parking in the field next door.

Once again Amos Paul Kennedy, the internationally known poster artist will create a poster for this year’s event.

Those posters are all over the world, and my house is full of his framed posters.

So grab your straw hat and your sweat rag and come join us in Lowndes County.

We’ll be glad to have you!