Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce’s 44th Mayfest celebration held Saturday, May 6, at Tom Byrne Park, was a huge hit. The annual late-Spring festival drew a bevy of early morning runners, dozens of vendors, numerous special activities for children, and thousands of patrons on a day that was made for such an event.
“You couldn’t ask for better weather,” said Sheryl Vickery, executive director of the local Chamber. “It was a beautiful day, a Chamber of Commerce day. The crowd was great; it’s hard to know exactly when you don’t sell tickets, but I’d say probably 3,000-plus.”
The day got off to a good start when more than 140 runners from throughout the area and the Southeast took part in the annual 5K run, sponsored by Grace Fellowship Church. Organizer Jonathan McMath reported that David Dobson and Elia Morales were the overall winners among males and females, respectively.
Classic and modern country music blared from speakers near the park’s gazebo as a crowd that included Beautiful Baby Contest participants and parents began to trickle in. Food vendors, hawking everything from sausage dogs, hamburgers and hotdogs, to alligator and shark did a brisk business.
Vickery said the crowd might have been larger, and the food vendors might have done better, except for the absence of a softball or baseball tournament, usually a staple of Mayfest weekend.
“I kept thinking something was different, then it hit me that there was not a softball or baseball tournament going on,” she said. “Without that, there wasn’t as many people walking around in uniform, and those folks usually eat a lot of festival food. It didn’t spoil the time, but the food vendors might have done a little better if there had been a tournament.”
By noon, the crowd had swelled to impressive proportions. Parking space within 100 feet of the park was at a premium, and an adjacent field quickly filled up with family laden cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles.
Business began to pick up for non-food vendors, too, as festival-goers browsed tents from which a wide array of merchandise, from Alabama and Auburn clothing to jewelry, items hand-crafted from wood, baked goods, and even one in which children of all ages could have their photo taken with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
And there was plenty to keep the younger attendees happy, including a bouncy house, power jump, pony rides and a rock wall. The Chamber’s train, engineered in rotation by Tom Tschida and Bub Gideons, was almost full every time it made a run, and there were a couple of carnival-type rides that did a steady business.
The festival also featured some quality entertainment, including duets by Ricky Crook and Richard Bowen, a performance by Crook and his Horseshoe Halo Band, and a set by Comotion and Company.
Vickery said, all in all, it was a great day.
“It was really successful; I think most everybody went home happy,” she said. “The entertainment was really good, and people were walking around, talking and laughing. I was very pleased. Everything that went on was just great.”