Best yet: Bloomin’ Festival sees record-breaking crowd, despite wet Sunday


Despite Sunday’s wet weather, crowds still showed up for the final day of the Bloomin’ Festival. Festival goers not only enjoyed the arts and crafts, but also the food. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – This weekend was a successful one for St. Bernard’s 34th annual Bloomin’ Festival as record crowds poured on for day one on Saturday and hundreds more fought off the rain to come back on Sunday. The festival is the largest annual fundraiser for the school and this year more than 170 vendors selling art, crafts, food, toys, plants and more made the trip to campus. Live entertainment was provided by St. Bernard students over the course of the weekend including a bluegrass performance from the Cotton Pick’n Kids on Sunday.

Despite Sunday’s wet conditions, Festival Director Joyce Nix was still excited about this year’s turnout and can’t believe how big the event has become since its inception decades ago.

“We opened the festival in the 1984 school year and of course the buildings were dilapidated, and we had a lot of work to do so we felt like an outdoor arts and crafts venue would be the perfect thing to do. Not many people were doing them at that time and we started visiting around craft fairs and inviting people here and 34 years later we’re at one of the largest arts and crafts fairs we’ve ever had here,” Nix smiled. “We’ve had a great assortment of variety and diversity. Some of the vendors left because they feared the weather and their merchandise would be ruined if they got wet, but we’ve got a bunch of troopers who stayed, and the crowd is still coming in on Sunday. We’ve only had to shut down once; we’ve dealt with the rain before, but you know all in all over 34 years we’ve been pretty blessed to only have two bad ones.”

Nix didn’t have an exact number Sunday morning but said there was no doubt Saturday’s crowd was the largest the event has seen in the 34 years of the festival. The festival made a weekend’s worth on day one, so Sunday’s crowd was a bonus for the vendors and the school.

“As Mrs. (Regina) Willoughby said, we had more people here yesterday than the city has residents so we’re thankful for the support from the community, Huntsville, Birmingham, Walker County, the Florence area, and the monks have done an incredible job of going out to the Catholic churches and the Diocese of Birmingham and making the parishioners aware of it,” Nix said. “They come, and they really support our show so it’s just great. I thought I knew everybody in Cullman County, but I didn’t know many of those faces yesterday. Yesterday was record-breaking for us, we did what we typically do in one weekend, so we’re thrilled, and we just thank God that he blessed us with one beautiful day. Today is just icing on the cake, we’ve been blessed this year.”

The festival did close two hours early Sunday because of heavy rain. Final numbers will be published when they are made available.

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