Knife hunt kicks off countdown to annual Bowie Festival

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2000

VIDALIA, La. — The countdown to this year’s Jim Bowie Festival officially begins today with the start of the second annual Bowie Knife Hunt.

In keeping with the festival’s theme, which revolves around a legendary 1800s knife fight on a nearby sandbar that involved Bowie himself, a plastic bowie knife will be hidden somewhere in Vidalia starting today.

Clues to the knife’s location will be printed in The Natchez Democrat and broadcast on Oldies 107.1 beginning today. The knife will be hidden outside, not inside buildings. The person who finds the knife will win $50.

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&uot;But that doubles to $100 if the person is wearing this year’s Jim Bowie Festival T-shirt,&uot; said Debra Merritt, publicity chairperson of the festival committee.

Meanwhile, the festival itself continues to grow.

As of Friday afternoon, 58 groups had registered to host booths at the festival, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the old courthouse square in Vidalia.

At the same time last year, only 42 booths had signed up — and 1999 was a local election year, with several booths devoted to political candidates’ campaigns.

&uot;The number of sponsors has also grown from 25 last year to 45 this year,&uot; Merritt said.

&uot;I think people saw the success of last year, with so many people attending, that they wanted to be a part of it this year.&uot;

Last year, more than 3,000 people attended the festival, and attendance is expected to be even greater this year.

This year’s booths will offer a variety of fair food, from funnel cakes to cotton candy to nachos, as well as Louisiana favorites like jambalaya and fried fish.

Other booths will feature games, face painting and puppet shows for children and a range of crafts, jewelry and other merchandise.

New attractions will include a wider variety of musical acts, pony rides and the return of the 4-H &uot;mini farm&uot;&160;that was absent from the festival last year, Merritt said.

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a reenactment will be held of a 1827 knife duel involving Jim Bowie that, according to legend, happened on a nearby sandbar.

Several different types of music, from country, gospel and Cajun music to blues, rock and oldies, will be performed on the festival’s stages. A DARE fishing tournament sponsored by the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office will be held on the same day, with judging to take place that afternoon on the old courthouse grounds.

The Vidalia Women’s Club will sponsor a street dance in conjunction with the festival from 8 p.m. until midnight Saturday featuring the music of local band Easy Eddie and the Partyrockers.