Local Sweet Tater Festival underway | CullmanSense

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Sweet Tater Festival underway

CULLMAN - The 21st annual Sweet Tater Festival got underway Sunday and thousands of people from around the state gathered at Smith Lake Park to enjoy the first day of festivities. The park was packed with hundreds of different vendors with one of a kind items you can only find at this type of event- and all of the food you could ever eat.

“It is just an enjoyable couple days at the park,” said Doug Davenport, director of Cullman County Parks and Recreation. “When we moved the event to Smith Lake Park several years ago the potential for the event just grew; we just try to provide different events and things that people can get involved with and excited about.”

The park recently completed what Davenport says is the largest Pepsi can in the country. The department worked with Pepsi Cola of Cullman, who painted the old, non-functioning water tower next to the Smith Lake Park office building to look like a Pepsi can.

“It is 32 feet tall, and we are pretty sure that is the biggest in the country. We only know of two others that even exist, and ours is bigger than those,” he said. “We’re trying to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for that.”

There were many sweet potato-themed items for sale including sweet potato pies and fries. The sweet potatoes themselves were grown and provided by local farmers who had bags of them on sale at the park.

Davenport, after doing some research about the event, stated that it was initially named the Sweet Tater Festival because at the time of its inception Cullman was the no. 10 sweet potato producer in the United States.

There were also plenty of attractions for younger visitors to enjoy like a petting zoo with the option to ride a horse, bounce castles, blow up obstacle courses, a dunk tank for kids to throw softballs at targets, bungee cord trampolines and much  more.

Sunday’s live music and entertainment included Ryan Sobb, Taylor Hunnicutt & Daniel Raine, Frazier Band, Winston Ramble and a dancing performance put on by the Clog Wild Cloggers. Davenport said the department made a few changes in the way they book performers to try and improve on the festival this year.

“In previous years we have arranged the acts and set it all up ourselves, but this year we hired professionals, so you’ll see that it is a little beefed up from years past,” he said.

There were also some events held that involved the festival attendees themselves. At noon, there was a Pepsi chugging competition held under the tents starting with the 12 and under division followed by an adults-only contest. All of the drinks were provided by Pepsi as they were one the primary sponsors for this year's festival. Competitors had three minutes to try and put down three 12-ounce cans of Pepsi as fast as they could and had to hold it down to be declared the winner. The winners walked away with free Sweet Tater Festival T-shirts and probably some upset stomachs.

The next big event was the golf cart parade at 3:30 featuring close to a dozen carts decked out with all sorts of decorations from streamers and American flags to the owners’ favorite college team's colors and logos. The winning cart came away with a free night of parking in the RV camp and the second-place finisher won two free T-shirts.

Day one of the Sweet Tater Festival was a success and the festival looks to continue providing a fun time for everyone on Labor Day with a sweet potato pie eating contest and the Cruze Fest & Swap Meet.

The festival will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and is just $5 for admission.

Monday’s schedule:

  •     9:30 Terry Adams
  •     11 Chimney Branch
  •     Noon Pie Eating Contest
  •     12:30 p.m. Taylor Hunnicutt & Company
  •     2 p.m. Tragic City

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  • Nick Griffin
  • Nick Griffin