A young Paris couple attending McKenzie’s fifth annual Southern Fried and Sweet Tea Festival for the first time on Saturday complimented the festival as being an awesome event.
Justin and Courtney were celebrating their fourth anniversary that was Monday.
“We liked fried anything,” smiled Courtney as she fed her husband a golden fried pickle. Justin remarked that sweet tea is their favorite drink as well.
“They just go hand in hand,” he said.
The main Festival kicked off Friday evening in downtown McKenzie on Broadway with remarks by Mayor Jill Holland who introduced guest speaker Industrial Board director Frank Tate.
“This event marks the culmination of an idea that began about eight years ago,” he said. “An idea about a new way to bring our community together and to enjoy a relaxing, fun filled weekend.”
He added that its events like this that serve as a catalyst for economic growth from our food and craft vendors to our musicians while allowing our families to mingle and network with some of our most innovative entrepreneurs.
Events coordinator Jennifer Waldrup called the event a great success.
“The weather was perfect with a record crowd,” she said. “The merchants were so supportive as the Festival took up the downtown area.”
She estimated there were about 40 vendors and 15 musical groups that entertained.
Festival Committee member chairman Ryan Griffin said the event was only successful with the help of the great vendors, volunteers and ACT II members.
“Those who attended seemed to enjoy all the different types of music and the variety of vendors,” he said. “We are thankful for the support from downtown businesses in an effort to make an economic impact during the festival.”
Singer Derek Fields and Bethel University’s Renaissance Quartet were the first two entertainers at the Festival that were followed up by many more over the weekend.
Southern Fried Funnies, a hilarious funny show of local talent presented by Carroll Arts, received rave reviews from viewers. Held at the Park Theatre, the cast, who put together a show reminiscent of TV’s Hee Haw, performed it twice, first on Thursday night and again on Saturday afternoon.
Lori Ost, one of the vendors in the park on Saturday, was kept busy showing her unique jewelry to potential customers.
Over in the children’s zone where rides were being offered, Tyler Tate of Rutherford was watching his three-year- old son, Ty, on the swings.
“This is really great for kids,” he said. “This is our second year to be here.”
At the nearby petting zoo, 11-month- old Hannah Tilley of Atwood, who was being helped by her mother, Jessica Tilley, was feeding a calf and some young goats.
Jessica explained that Hannah has a congenital heart condition for which she has had one surgery at Vanderbilt and will have a second one this fall at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Hannah’s grandmother, Jo Ann Rollen of Cedar Grove, was accompanying her daughter and granddaughter.
“I’m sure glad we can have something local like this to attend,” she said.