Let's clean out the notebook ...• I am still to write the story, but the Coca-Cola Fall Festival can be put down as a major success. City officials are ready to do backflips with the response from …
Let's clean out the notebook ...
• I am still to write the story, but the Coca-Cola Fall Festival can be put down as a major success. City officials are ready to do backflips with the response from audiences, vendors and entertainers. Sadly, reporters (and festival officials) can't spend too much time listening to music, but it was clear to me that Paul Thorn and the McCrary Sisters was a great act, and I heard that all over town. The SteelDrivers were also good, and I heard great response to Taylor Hicks and Robert Randolph.
I came back just to hear the last two (surprised I had trouble finding a parking space), but I heard my story was too long, and I had to go back to the office to work on it. By then, I didn't want to hunt for a parking space again and walk the distance, so I went home a little disappointed.
No doubt the heat and humidity took it out of me anyway. I pushed myself too much, and by lunch I was about five minutes away from getting the paramedics. I went into Johnny Brusco's (wide open spaces and air-conditioning crossed my mind) and begged them to send sweat tea (caffeine) quick. I'm surprised there were not more cases; dog owners (and there were a number who brought their pets) were asking where the Main Street water bowls were around town so their dogs could drink some water. (The bowls might not be a bad idea at other festivals, such as Mule Day.)
Aside from the entertainment, I can tell you the children's area mounted by Desperation Church was highly popular, with different activities. (It may be the best I've ever seen at any festival over three decades.) The restaurants were packed and the food vendors looked like they did well. (The major one with the Gulf Coast fare, with large vats of food, shocked and pleased a number of people.) I felt safe, as police and firemen were everywhere, but non-threatening. Few incidents occurred, and those that did were minor. (I'm told one suspect at an incident had a child and they asked the sister if they wanted to take the suspect into personal custody; the sister, apparently having seen enough, took care of the child instead and said to do what they wanted to with the sister, so they arrested the suspect.)
By the way, Bevill State Community College officials seemed pleasantly surprised how many visitors they had to their open house Saturday morning at the Carl Elliott House; I saw a number of people touring and asking questions, and I suggested they might make this an annual event. I forgot how much they had to look at in the home.
I do think that a list of vendors, and maybe a map of them, would have been nice, as people were asking directions at the festival's information booth. I do think the permanent map set up at Pinnacle was a great idea to get around Jasper. The map, furnished by Jasper Main Street, was in our own guide, and the Pinnacle structure solved a mystery in the office when we looked at it and asked, "Why does it ask 'You are here' at Pinnacle?" (I hope next year we might have a few more items listed somewhere in our guide, such as bathrooms, police base, festival information booth and the like. The city was calling several times for copies of the Daily Mountain Eagle guide to be given away at the city information booth.)
By the way, the Daily Mountain Eagle set up its own booth and found it to be a successful venture. I think we took orders for close to two dozen subscription specials (some asking for a full year at regular price, which we complied with) and gave away copies of our various printed products to visitors. I will also say that I appreciated a number of people who stopped me in the streets to tell me how much they appreciated what we are doing at the paper and how much they appreciated this column. That meant a lot to me.
There are a number of people who deserve some thanks, including city officials Lisa Myers and Brent McCarver, who have been given more freedom to lead the festival this year by Mayor David O'Mary (who was active in the process this weekend).
However, I do want to give a big congratulations to someone who really made the whole weekend possible: Zach Baker, an advertising rep at the Eagle who is also the talent booker for this festival. Within the budget limits, he was able to find the artists who would put on a great show. He deserves all the credit for that, and without his work, we wouldn't have a unique festival. I hope he realizes how much he is appreciated for all his hard work.
• I was disappointed in the turnout for the Sept. 11 attacks memorial in Jasper. A lot of people didn't show up for that event; someone suggested it might have been better to have at noon. But between that and the National Day of Prayer, I don't know what to do to get more participation.
• Some of us looking at the local elections are wondering if people are having fatigue after that brutal primary season. With no local Democrats, people think it is pretty much over, even though independents are running in local races and we have two-party races on Nov. 6. That could be a big challenge for those still running, although many are taking it serious. At the Foothills, I recall saw Lee Auman, Nick Smith and Mike Cole at the festival, and Donna Wesson Smalley also had a booth at the festival.
• At the festival, I also saw Walker County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Bowen, who told me that officer elections were delayed from a recent meeting.