Valdosta Daily Times

May 13, 2013

Echols celebrates being Carrot Capital of the South

Caitlin Barker
The Valdosta Daily Times

STATENVILLE — The carrot capital of the South has done it again. Echols County had an excellent turnout Saturday for its Third Annual Carrot Festival. Echols residents saw some new and familiar faces this year from guests all over the state of Georgia to first-time vendors.

Started by a group of ladies native to the Echols County area, the festival began as a way for the community to show appreciation for the town, as well as the production of carrots.

“A group of us ladies wanted to give our community something to do and represent it in a positive way. We’re a good community,” said Presiding Officer Karen Corbett. “A lot of people don’t know we are the Carrot Capital of the South.”

Echols County was given the title of Carrot Capital of the South by state. Rep. Ellis Black in 2005. Black admired Echols for its exceptional ability within the agricultural community and its annual production of millions of pounds of carrots.

To commemorate the county’s hard work, the carrot festival was born and the people of Echols encourage citizens to come from all over Georgia to relax and enjoy the festivities every year.

Dolores Everette, an Echols County native, charmed the festival’s visitors with her delicious homemade pear-fried pies and exceptional carrot soufflé.

“I’ve been in Echols County forever. This is my town,” Everette said. “I give my pies away, been doing it for three years but I’ve been making them for 50.”

Everette was selling her heavenly pies for one dollar a piece but was kind enough to give them away to those who were short on money.

“If people don’t have a dollar, I’ll give people a pie,” Everette said. “It’s not about money. It’s about getting out in the community and seeing people.”

Among the several vendors, a new business stepped onto the scene at the festival called Wreathalicious, a fun and creative booth offering homemade wreaths for any occasion.  

“It’s a new business for me. I’ve always messed with flowers and made wreaths,” said owner/designer Kelly McClellan. “It’s my first time. I came last year but it flooded. It seems to be growing. It’s a great opportunity to get my business out there. I would love to come back.”

All things handmade seemed to be the common theme amongst vendors at this year’s carrot festival, including Wreathalicious’ next door neighbor, Lynn Ross, an independent distributor of Mia Bella’s candles and exquisite jewelry making.

“I make some of my necklaces on the back of old domino pieces. I’ve been in this business only two years,” Ross said. “I heard about the festival and thought it would be a great advertisement. It’s my first time coming. I’ve had a lot of lookers, a few buyers. It’s a beautiful day. I plan on coming back next year.”

 Russ Taylor, a creative genius who constructs electric guitars and ukuleles out of old cigar boxes, attracted a flock of visitors.

 “I’ve been making these a couple of years, made normal guitars before that,” Taylor said. “In the 1920s and ‘30s, this was a big thing during the depression and since we’re in a depression again, I thought I’d bring it back. It’s fun.”

On the other side of the festival, a fun and friendly kid zone was located, offering pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce house, and a dunk tank. Donny “Gatorman” Bartow made an appearance with his crew and live alligator.

Regina and Howard Spires with Lazy S Horse & Pony Farm provided the animals for the event, including a goose, ponies, a chicken, rabbits, and a pot-belly pig.

“We live in Douglas, Ga. We were invited to come. It’s our first time and we’ve enjoyed it,” Regina said.

A variety of musical entertainment was also provided for visitors of the carrot festival, including the spectacular voice of Kris Pierce and the band Lost Decade. The festival concluded with a parade that lasted from 3:30 to 4 p.m. For more information about the Echols County Carrot Festival, please visit www.echolscountycarrotfestival.com.