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Festival essentials available despite cancellation

By Lisa Tindell

The cancellation of the annual Alabama Blueberry Festival this year may have left some collectors and sweet-tooth folks a little disappointed. There are a number of people in the area that collect the annual t-shirts and enjoy blueberry ice cream and with no festival, getting either for the 2020 event seemed impossible.
However, the quick thinking of members of the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce, the organizers of the event, the 2020 t-shirt will be available even though the festival is not happening because of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Judy Crane, executive director for the Chamber, said the idea to go ahead and produce a t-shirt for this year was a collaborative decision.
“We had people to ask about the t-shirts and we started thinking about what we might be able to do,” Crane said. “After several texts and phone calls between our office and the directors, we came up with a few ideas. We presented those ideas to Clay Lisenby and he came up with this year’s design.”
The design features a bright cartoon blueberry complete with face mask to represent the reason for the cancellation of the festival. The shirt also features the fact that there is no festival this year.
“We have already started taking pre-orders for the shirt to see what kind of response we could get,” Crane said. “The response has been great so far and we will continue to take orders through June 17. We are requiring that the shirts be paid for by the deadline order date. We just can’t have any extra shirts since we really don’t have anywhere to keep them. We will have to see how many shirts we order before we can get a delivery date from our printer. We will be letting people know about the shirt delivery when we have a date.”
And for those who look forward to getting a little blueberry ice cream this one weekend of the year, that is still possible with quick thinking from the Chamber, Crane said.
“We wanted to be able to carry on the tradition of having blueberry ice cream for those who enjoy it,” Crane said. “We made contact with the creamery who makes that for us and discussed the possibility of making that happen.”
Crane said the ice cream will be available in half-gallon sizes and will be ready for pick-up the Thursday following the original date of the festival.
“We are also taking pre-orders on the ice cream since we certainly have no way to keep anything frozen,” Crane said. “We will take orders through June 19 and will set up delivery on June 25 at Dogwood Hills Park. We will have a drive-through kind of pick-up from 4 to 7 p.m. on that afternoon.”
Crane said half gallons of ice cream are $10 for one or two for $18.  T-shirts are $15 for youth sizes and $20 for adult sizes through 3XL.
“We really are disappointed about not having the festival this year,” Crane said. “This was to be our 40th festival here in Brewton. But, we just really couldn’t feasibly follow  healthy guidelines based on the number of people we usually see at the festival. We simply had to think of the safety of our vendors, volunteers and visitors when it came to health concerns. No one was really surprised by the decision we were forced to make. We did refund any deposits or fees paid by vendors and most everyone was okay with that. I’m sure they will be back with us next year.”
Although the festival will only be commemorated with a t-shirt this year, Crane said the Chamber is looking forward to celebrating that 40th Anniversary in 2021.
“We are already putting some plans down for next year,” Crane said. “We were planning some interesting and fun things for this year. We’re just moving them to our plan for next year and we hope to see the festival bigger and better than ever.”
To learn more about ordering shirts or ice cream, visit the official Alabama Blueberry Festival page on Facebook for ordering information. Orders can also be placed in person at the Chamber office inside city hall on Douglas Avenue or by calling the Chamber office at 867-3224.

Above, the t-shirt design commemorates the year the Alabama Blueberry Festival could not take place due to the pandemic.
Submitted photo