Change coming to annual Okra Festival held Saturday

Published 5:01 pm Monday, August 29, 2016

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Famous poster artist Amos Paul Kennedy shows off the latest Okra Festival poster.

Famous poster artist Amos Paul Kennedy shows off the latest Okra Festival poster.

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

It’s not ending, but the 16th annual Okra Festival, held Saturday, Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. was the last to be held at the home of Barbara Evans on Harriet Tubman Road in Burkville, Evans, the co-founder, announced in a press release prior to  the event.

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Evans said, “It has been a long journey for Lowndes County’s Okra Festival held the last Saturday in August. Begun by two friends, Alice Stewart and Barbara Evans, it quickly grew from a neighborhood party to one of Lowndes’ County’s most popular events, and ultimately into a bright spot for the state of Alabama.”

“It is time”, Evans said. “Sometimes we old heads fail to hand important things off to the younger generation.” She said she believes that ultimately, the failure of the older generation to hand things off and move on can become a community problem.

She said, “You have to know when it is time. For me, it is time, and I have a commitment from a younger woman who I know can handle the work and the different facets of the festival.”

She said Annie Mae’s Art Place, which is the little dwelling that holds local art and history, will continue to sell art and give tours about Lowndes County.

Evans said she hopes she can recruit new artists and make Annie Mae’s Place a co-op for local artists. She also plans to expand her gardening, finally finish the book she is writing, and have new adventures

“Every year, people come up to me with suggestions about how to make the Okra Festival larger”, Evans said. “ I have to tell them I don’t want it any larger. It is the small, home grown atmosphere that people love. Perfect strangers tell me it is like a family party or even a family reunion. I hope that continues, but I have warned my replacement that I will need her help in keeping my nose out of things.”

Among those on hand for Saturday’s event were famous poster artist Amos Paul Kennedy and author Josephine Bolling McCall and people selling arts and crafts and food, including okra in many forms from fresh, to fried to pickled.

Kennedy showed off the latest Okra Festival poster, “Okra Lovers Vote.”

McCall wrote the book,“The penalty for Success: My Father Was Lynched in Lowndes County, Alabama.”