Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2004


a first

for Vidalia firefighters

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The Natchez Democrat

VIDALIA, La. &045; Grab a spot on the lawn, underneath the shade trees and listen to some bluegrass and gospel music, right on the riverfront at the first Vittles and Fiddles festival.

&uot;It will be good, clean, wholesome family entertainment,&uot; said Jack Langston, Vidalia Fire Chief and an organizer of the event.

The festival, held at the River View RV Park, has a slate of 11 performers and begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with the music starting around 11 a.m. and lasting until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for the entire day. There will be free musical performances Friday night by bands that arrive in town early as well as local bands that want to show off their talents. The free music begins around 7 p.m.

As far as the fiddles go, there are 11 acts slated for Saturday’s festival &045; McManus, L&M Band, 190 Express, Southern Strangers, McCall Creek, The Singin’ Mississippians, Jake Landers, The Harrigill Family of Vidalia, Grassfire, Calvary Baptist Church in Vidalia and Glory Bound Cloggers of Jonesville.

&uot;As far as I know, there’s not a lot of bluegrass music around here Š not something you hear on the radio,&uot; Langston said.

This is the first year of the festival but it is one Langston said he would like to become an annual event.

Along with the bands and vendors, who will have food, crafts and children’s games, there also will be a gumbo cook-off &045; the vittles.

Anyone can enter the gumbo cook-off for a fee of $20. But there will be two separate cook-offs. One is for the general public with cash prizes for first, second and third place.

The second competition is between fire departments. Whichever department can make the best gumbo, according to the judge’s tastes anyway, will win a gift certificate from Ferrar Fire Apparatus and a set of turnout gear.

Langston said people attending the festival can taste the entries if they buy a taster kit for $1.

With a new festival and a new genre comes not only excitement and attraction but uncertainty. &uot;It’s a shot in the dark to see how it goes over,&uot; Langston said.

Langston and a number of community members have been working to put the festival together, with proceeds going to build a training facility for the Vidalia Fire Department.

Langston said they have the land but need money to build structures and it will be open to other departments to use for training as well.

The festival is &uot;not only to benefit us (the fire department) but gives the people an activity to go to,&uot; Langston said.

The fire department is required to have so many hours of training, he said, and there is only so much the department can do without a facility to train in. The department would like to purchase things like mazes that will simulate a real fire situation.