Thursday, June 27, 2013
Thousands enjoy Byhalia Festival
By SUE WATSON
Attendance at this year’s Byhalia Festival, sponsored by the Byhalia Lions Club, was outstanding, according to club member Terry Rodgers.
It was estimated between 8,000 and 8,500 June 13-15.
“This is one of the best in attendance in a long time,” he said. “Everything went so smoothly this year.”
Good weather, two good nights of rodeo, good bands, a good midway, and an arts contest all added up to a perfect weekend for the event.
There was plenty of good food. The Byhalia Sports Association food booth raised money for that organization.
The Byhalia FFA took care of the parking for three nights and parked about 1,100 cars, Rodgers said. The Byhalia Police Department and Fire Department assisted, along with other town crews. Town crews handled the garbage and cleaned up the site every evening at closing time.
Rodgers said the volunteers who come out and help with the festival have gotten good at their jobs and can be relied on to help every year.
“Everybody knows their job,” he said. “It makes it easy.”
Rodgers said the festival keeps ticket prices low so families can afford to attend. Plus, the carnival works with the Lions Club to offer wristbands for two nights so children can enjoy lots of rides at an affordable rate.
This is the third season the Lions Club has sponsored the festival, which was begun by Brenda and Ronnie Luther to raise money for children at Christmas.
Jerry Bolden, with the Deep South Rodeo Association and J Bar B, had one of the largest crowds ever, with bleachers full on both sides and people standing along the fences. The arena, a portable one, is slightly less than standard dimensions, he said. Cowboys especially enjoy the competition at this event, he said, and the carnival and music and food also are pleasing to his competitors.
“It was one of the best in terms of spectators and cowboy turnout,” Bolden said. “The event gets better and better every year. It is a popular rodeo and easy to get to.
“People like the rodeo – the whole atmosphere. We have no trouble getting cowboys to come to this event. It is one of the best festivals – something family friendly.”
Some sponsors this year included Northcentral Electric Power, which supplied the electricity; A&B Distributing, which provided drinks and donations; and Doughboy Pools, which donated a $5,000 pool to be raffled.
Byhalia Arts Council
An art contest was featured at the festival, with local artists displaying their work, and a talent show was also held for the first time.
Faye Woods, president of the Byhalia Area Arts Council, said for most contestants, it was their first experience showing in the visual arts, as was true also for those entering the performing arts contest.
“What amazed me is that we had different people displaying their work this time,” she said.
There were three categories in the visual arts contest – adult, youth, and 12 and under. In the talent contest, everyone competed in one category.
The festival provides a good venue for the public to learn about the arts council and for artists to talk to people, Woods said. The contest will be taken to the Sounds of Summer festival put on by the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce. Woods said she hopes to eventually get the contest sanctioned by the Mid-South Fair as a qualifier.
The work of about 15 artists was represented at the festival and several individuals participated in the talent show, Woods said.
The Town of Byhalia has plans to provide a place to house the Byhalia Area Arts Council.
“We need a place to hang our hat, desperately,” she said.
Memberships are encouraged, Woods said, and sponsors are needed to help underwrite the council.
A dance competition is set for Friday, June 28, at the old Northcentral building in Byhalia. It begins at 9 a.m. and runs to 1 p.m. Tommy Woods’ famous barbecue will be served at the clubhouse afterward. Woods said parents, Lions Club members and the community are invited to come to the dance competition. Call Woods at 901-336-7490 for more information.
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