Happy Heritage Fest in Almont
|LuluBelle the clown fashions a balloon animal for five-year-old Olivia Bradin, as a crowd of big and little kids look on. photo by Tom Wearing.|
October 01, 2008ALMONT — The gods were smiling down on the village Saturday, and the organizers and attendees of Almont's first-ever Heritage Festival smiled back.
Downtown Development Authority Director Nancy Boxey was among those seen smiling during and after of the festival.
Boxey, who admitted to being a little tired Monday morning, helped coordinate the festival on behalf of the DDA. She said no one could never have predicted such a successful first-time event.
From start to finish, Boxey said nearly every aspect of the event came off without a hitch. She offered generous compliments to the many individuals and organizations that put in time and effort to ensure its success.
In addition to the DDA, Boxey said the Almont Area Chamber of Commerce, Lions and Lioness clubs, local businesses, volunteers and the community-at-large are deserving of credit.
"The whole thing went fantastic," said Boxey. "So many people helped out and we had an amazing turnout from the community. The participation was just awesome."
Hundreds of parents, grandparents and children turned out early to take part in children's games, a talent contest, scarecrow and business decorating competitions, chili cook-off, vendors booths, food and other activities.
"The talent acts were great," noted Boxey. "It was heartening to see so many people fill the tent to listen to the young entertainers.
"It was also great to see people walking the streets downtown," she continued, "and I'm hearing that our businesses did well."
Later in the day, the main tent filled up again for an Octoberfest celebration, featuring German beer and a performance by the German band, Spass.
"We were packed Saturday night and everyone enjoyed the band," Boxey added. "We had lots of people and great weather. Things couldn't have gone any better."
Almont Area Chamber of Commerce president Terri Rogulski shared Boxey's enthusiasm.
"I rate this as being very successful," said Rogulski. "The community really came together on this. Everyone seemed very comfortable and friendly. It was also nice to see people here from our neighboring communities.
"Most of all," she said, "it was great seeing the sidewalks lined with people. The only other time I've seen that in Almont is for the holiday (Holly Days Light) parade.
Chili cook-off adds spice
In one of the festival's many highlights, Herb Lowell bested Village Manager Gerald Oakes in the Chili Cook-off, held at the Fountain Park downtown.
Lowell, a Lions Club member and former village councilman, said his primary motivation for entering the competition was to challenge Oakes.
"When I heard Gerry was going to be in this, I wanted to beat him," said Lowell, who doesn't mind sharing his chili recipe with the world.
"It's all about my fresh incredients," said Lowell. "I use turkey burger and put corn in for color and to sweeten it up.
"And I use a lot of spices," he said. "It's not hot at first. It catches up on you by the second or third bite."
Ironically, Oakes was runner-up among the nine chili cooks entering the competition. He was less than pleased with the result. "I'm appealing," Oakes quipped.
Lowell, who also lent his hand to organizing and setting up for the festival, attributed the festival's success to greater participation.
"When too few people are involved, they tend to burn out," Lowell said. "This time everybody involved did a lot of work. That's what it takes to make something successful. For me, seeing all the people have a good time makes it worth it."