Our Parthenon is the Limestone County Courthouse. Our Olympic-style games involve frozen turkeys. Our grapes are likely dipped, battered and fried.
Welcome to the Athens Grease Festival.
Athens, Alabama’s name has a Greek origin. Many of the city’s buildings, including the Courthouse, are admired for their Greek-revival architecture. In 2012, that led to a festival idea with a Southern twist and play on words between Athens, Greece, and Athens Grease.
Welcome to a celebration of all things fried and the Greek origin of the city’s name.
“The Athens Grease Festival provides the city with family fun and the promotion of its downtown,” said Festival Chairwoman Betsy Hyman.
Spirit of Athens, a designated Main Street Alabama organization, hosts the festival as a fundraiser with the money going back to downtown projects. This year, the Spirit of Athens received approval from the Guinness Book of World Records to attempt the world’s largest toga party.
“The festival draws about 5,000, so if everyone would wear a white toga and join us at 2:30 p.m. for the attempt, we would set the record,” said SOA Director Trisha Black.
The record is 3,700 participants in Queensland, Australia.
In addition to the attempt, toga wearers will find a menu of activities including fried and non-fried delights, musical entertainment, contests and a children’s art activity area.
For the taste buds, there will be a variety of vittles like boudin fried balls, fried bow tie pasta, fried bologna sandwiches, Ukrainian kielbasa on a bun, chicken Kiev, fried pies and fried Oreos.
To please the ears, the musical ingredients range from blues to reggae to classical. That will be brought by groups like Promised Land Sound, Steelism, KUSH, Microwave Dave and The Nukes and Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with Athens State University’s Livingston Concert Lecture Series.
For the competitive, organizers added a quart of quirky with contests like the Turkey Toss, Dub’s Burger Eating Contest, Toga Contest and School Spirit Toga Contest. For the toga-wearing cowboys and cowgirls, they can test their mettle against a mechanical bull. To tickle everyone’s chicken bone leg, Al.com is sponsoring the “Will It Fry?” booth where Athens firefighters will attempt to dip, batter and fry reader suggested items.
For the toga toddlers, a children’s art activity area operated by Athens Arts League will allow youngsters to enjoy hands-on projects such as ceramics.
“I am amazed at how the festival has grown and how creative the organizers are with the events for the day,” said Mayor Ronnie Marks.
What: Athens Grease Festival
Where: Downtown Athens
Date: September 27, 2014
Time: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for ages 3-12 and free for 2 and younger. $1 off for toga wearers.
Out of the Frying Pan VIP Party: 7 p.m. at The Loft 1880. Go to www.eventbrite.com. $20.
Vendors: Food, beverages, crafts, etc. Vendor prices are not included in ticket purchase.
Parking: Public lots around and near The Square and marked side street parking. Handicap parking will be designated.
Major sponsors: Fox 54, WZYP, City of Athens and Limestone County Commission
Did you know…
Ever wonder where all the grease goes that’s generated from cooking at the festival?
Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful collects the grease, which is then used by farmers for biodiesel equipment. So farm to table has become table back to farm.
By: Holly Hollman