23rd Annual Sweet Tater Festival this Sunday, Monday, Sep. 1-2

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Tony Leonardi, former organizer of the Sweet Tater Festival, stands by his truck, a staple of the festival, during the 22nd annual Sweet Tater Festival at Smith Lake Park. The 23rd annual festival is Sunday and Monday, Sept. 1-2, 2019 at Smith Lake Park. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Sweet Tater Festival returns to Smith Lake Park this holiday weekend. The event will take place Sunday, Sept. 1 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Slated for both days are live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors and, of course, plenty of sweet potatoes.

The Sweet Tater Festival Car Show will take place Monday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is $5, and armbands will get visitors in both Sunday and Monday. The Smith Lake Park pool will be open, and the park will also be renting out kayaks, canoes and paddle boards.

Cullman County Parks & Recreation Director Doug Davenport shared a brief history of the festival.

“It started 23 years ago at Dowling Memorial School after the school had burned down and they, I guess the (Cullman) County School Board, decided they were going to rebuild the school back,” he said. “The citizens in that community wanted to do something to help people heal and get over the process of the school being burned down because it’s kind of an icon to that community in Crane Hill. So they started having a festival and it transferred into the Sweet Tater Festival, which was held there until six years ago and they about outgrew it.”

Continued Davenport, “I had actually called and talked about us partnering with them and having it at the (Smith Lake) park. It was just the elders in the community and they’re just like, ‘Well, this is a God-send, we’ve been praying for someone to take over; we’d love to give it to parks and rec; we know y’all will always be around.’ Well, six years ago we moved it to the park.”

Davenport said the festival will go on, rain or shine.

“This is a rain or shine event. It seems like about every other year it rains, so we have hay on standby for any areas of high traction in the case it gets muddy.”

When asked what brings people back to the festival each year, Davenport smiled, “I think it just brings people back to the time of grassroots where everybody came from. You know, my grandparents were instrumental in farming at some point in time. It’s more of a bluegrass, country, gospel-type of entertainment event.”

Below is the schedule of events:

Sunday, Sep. 1

  • 9:30 a.m. Rebecca Egeland
  • Noon Rick Carter
  • 2:30 p.m. Clog Wild Cloggers
  • 3:30 p.m. Sweet Tater Relay Contest
  • 4 p.m. Winston Ramble

 

Monday, Sep. 2

  • 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sweet Tater Car Show
  • 9:30 a.m. Taylor Hunnicutt
  • 11 a.m. Chimney Branch
  • Noon Sweet Tater Pie Eating Contest
  • 12:30 p.m. The Yellow Dandies
  • 2 p.m. Golf Cart Parade
  • 2:30 p.m. Davis Little

 

Smith Lake Park is located at 403 County Road 386 Cullman, AL 35057.

Find out more at www.facebook.com/SweetTaterFestival.

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com