Thursday, June 28, 2007
Clydesdale fest best yet
By SUE WATSON
This year’s Clydesdale Festival drew large crowds on Friday and Saturday with total attendance at the three-day event estimated at 13,500, according to organizer Ronnie Luther.
In its fourth year and growing each year, the festival is a fund-raiser for two charities - the Clydesdale Christmas Store, and the Byhalia and Watson fire departments.
Luther was elated at the growth of the festival which he said is now the biggest festival put on by A&B Distributors in partnership with communities to raise money for charities like the Clydesdale Christmas Store, serving Marshall County and surrounding areas.
“Everything we do is for charities or chambers of commerce,” Luther said.
He added that the hundreds of volunteers from Byhalia and Marshall County make it possible to organize an event this size.
“It takes a whole community to put this on,” he said. “It’s a huge festival and one of the biggest ones we did this year.”
Luther said he has many people to thank, including the town of Byhalia and Mayor Scooter Dempsey, over 100 business or corporate sponsors, and a hundred or more volunteers.
The success of this year’s festival will provide some cash to invest in next year’s festival to draw more widely known bands and add more events. And money is accepted all year round for the sole use in helping kids from poor families have a nice Christmas.
Saturday night’s crowd of about 8,000 saw cars backed up to Ingrams Mill exit waiting to get in and the area wrapped up in thousands of vehicles, Luther said. Hotels in Olive Branch were full as people from Rossville, Missouri and Louisiana joined with the north Mississippi crowd to participate in charity events and have a good time.
The motorcycle show and rally Thursday night drew 42 bikes, the biggest attendance yet, Luther said. The pony and horse show Saturday attracted 58 teams, the first time this event has been included in the Clydesdale Festival. A team came all the way from Missouri to join teams from all over the Mid-South to put on a good show for a good cause.
The J Bar B Rodeo Fridays and Saturdays continues to be well attended with crowds Saturday night stacked up 15 rows deep around the arena and the stands full, according to Luther.
“You couldn’t even get up there,” he said.
Also, a first this year was the Cow Chip Bingo competition where people buy a numbered red flag and the winners are the ones who get a chow chip planted on them.
Also, on hand for security were officers with the Byhalia Police Department and Marshall County Sheriff’s Department and medics with Emergistat ambulance service.
Luther said business and corporate sponsorships and volunteers are what make the wheels turn in a charity event.
“It’s not the big box stores, it’s all the local businesses supporting us,” he said.
An example, this year Dough Boy Pools donated two pools - one for auction and one for raffle at the festival.
Byhalia’s Jerry Shaw donated his completely restored 1963 Chevy Impala to this year’s Clydesdale Store. Raffle tickets for the Impala will be sold at $100 each for a drawing in December which will coincide with the Christmas season.
Walk up volunteers and core Clydesdale Committee volunteers did more this year than ever, Luther said.
“We had people walking up and asking, ‘What can I do?’ It was a long week but went well. If we start thanking people we’d have 10 pages in The South Reporter,” he said. “Everything we do is for charity. If somebody wants to make money, they can do it on their own.”
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