This weekend is Five Star City Fest, and I, for one, can’t wait.
The way I see it, spring festivals and the South walk hand-in-hand. They are as American as apple pie, to use the old cliché.
Not only do spring festivals bring much needed income into a community, they have the possibility of showcasing the beauty and best of the town. They bring a moral boost like no other as people take pride in their communities and celebrate together with neighbors, friends and families.
On any given spring weekend across the Southern states, one could stumble upon a festival. In Flomaton, Ala., we had Railroad Station Day. In Brewton, Ala., it was Blueberry Fest. In Atmore, Ala., the town celebrated May Fest. And all of these towns were only 30 miles from each other. But on those weekends in May, the small towns swelled with visitors and smiles were seen everywhere on the faces of littles and older folks alike. While I haven’t yet experienced Five Star City Fest, I have no doubt in my mind the same is true.
Unfortunately, last spring those joyous weekends in May were snuffed out like a candle as COVID-19 ripped through the country and brought festivals to a screeching halt. The world went quiet, it seemed, as we no longer heard music fill those nights. Delicious smells of long-missed favorite food vendors no longer tantalized our senses. Forget about seeing smiles on running little children- we were barely allowed out of our homes to go grocery shopping. And when we did venture out, smiles couldn’t be seen because everyone covered their faces with masks.
Luckily, our world responded. Our scientists developed a vaccine. We learned more about the virus itself, and how to fight it. Now the country has begun to return to normal. A new normal, perhaps, as many of us are still learning to navigate this post-COVID-19 world without a loved one lost to the dreaded disease.
And what better way to break out into the May sunshine than by a festival celebrating our town. These festivals are no easy feat to pull off, and people have worked hard all year to plan, organize and coordinate hundreds of moving parts to make Five Star City Fest happen. Sponsors from all over the area have donated time, money and efforts to make this year’s event completely free to the community, because they understand the hardships that many have endured throughout the pandemic. I want to celebrate their efforts as well.
I can’t wait to be out there Friday evening, jamming to live music at Gabbert Park and cheering on all the runners for the “Not Yo Mama’s 5K”.
And when that early morning sun hits on Saturday, I’m excited to bring my son and daughter with me to see all the classic hot rods at the car show. Then, you bet we’re going to look at every booth, buy goodies and feast on fair food until we’re stuffed. We’re going to listen to bands and dance in the sunshine. We’re going to walk and rest in the shade. We’re going to smile at friends and wave at strangers.
Because we can. I never again want to live through such a quiet, dismal and ungracious spring as that of 2020.
I encourage everyone to come join us. Let’s, as a community, shake off the unpleasantness of last year and celebrate our victory over COVID-19 together. And better yet, if the crowds of people are still a little nerve-wracking because of fear of contracting the virus, Senatobia’s new hospital, Delta Health-Highland Hills, will be on scene giving COVID-19 vaccinations.
Across the country, there will be a reawakening of communities as everyone starts to have their festivals, but I’d be willing to bet, there won’t be any other quite like Five Star City Fest because, well, quite frankly, they don’t live in the Five Star City.