Originally created 10/01/00

Town's first festival gets mixed reviews



GLOVERVILLE - The comparisons were inevitable.

After splitting from the original Midland Valley/Horse Creek Valley Sassafras Festival, organizers of the first Horse Creek Sassafras Festival in Gloverville knew Valley residents might measure their event by the one held for the past five years in Burnettown.

On Saturday, thousands of residents took hard hits in bumper cars, twisted in the Berry Go Round ride, popped balloons for stuffed animals and purchased crafts. They also danced to local bands and chowed down on funnel cakes, blooming onions and New Orleans-style Snoballs.

King Sassafras, better known as James Wright, said the Gloverville event needs time to grow.

"For the first year, it's fine," said the king, who wore a crown and presided during Saturday's festivities. "You can't start at the top. I think in five years, we'll have one fantastic festival."

Visitors to Saturday's 12-hour funfest at Gloverville Park had definite opinions, too.

"It's great," craft vendor June Clark said. "They have something for children up to old people."

Shannon McBrayer, a festival worker, said she expected more.

"The other one has more rides, bigger rides. This is mostly kiddie rides," she said.

Keith Cunningham, 15, thought the festival would be similar to the Burnettown event, which is scheduled for Saturday at Sassafras Park. He and friend Josh Gizzard said they were disappointed with the Gloverville fest.

"We thought it would be the same, but it's not," he said. "It doesn't have as many rides, or as many people."

Langley firefighter Calvin McCravy said he understands Gloverville's version of the Sassafras Festival is just getting started.

The festival's freshness didn't stop Mary Elizabeth Still and friends from moving their feet and dancing to Johnny B. Goode, the early rock song played Saturday afternoon by The Hard Country Band, a local favorite.

"What's the best part? The country music and watching the kids," Ms. Still said.

"We're people people," Patty Boyd said. "We love seeing people having fun. So far, everybody we've seen has really enjoyed it."

Organizer Bobby Rutland said he was happy with the turnout and the entertainment. The event was sponsored by the Gloverville Park Association, and proceeds go toward improvements at the park.

"It's been a lot of hard work to get the park prepared for this. But it will pay off for the future," Mr. Rutland said. "And we expect it to be even better next year."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (803) 279-6895.