OCILLA — The 57th Sweet Potato Festival is dedicated this year to Dusty Vassey, who died from unexpected complications from cancer on Sept. 8, according to a press release. 

Dusty was a reporter for the OcilIa Star who wrote his editorials with both truths and humor. He had the rare gift of being able to laugh at himself in his articles which made the community grow to love him for his honesty.

Dusty was known as the voice and face of Ocilla. He was raised in Irwinville where in later years he turned his love for poetry into lyrics, writing the song ”Irwinvillian" which expressed his love of lrwinville and Irwin County.

The theme for this year’s Sweet Potato Day is "Country Roads Take Me Home.”

The festival, which is primarily on Saturday, Oct. 28, will be kicked off with the Cooking Contest on Oct. 26 at the Irwin County Extension Office.

All entries must be at the Extension office no later than 6:15 pm. Judging starts promptly at 6:30 pm. For the 2nd year, the judge will be Lauri Jo Bennett of Lauri Jo's.

For more information call Jenny Sutton at 229-468-7409.

The weekend will include the following activities: the Georgia Sweet Potato Parade, The Sweet Tater Trot, the Ninth Annual Antique, Truck and Tractor Show, vendors, games and food at the Arts & Crafts Fair and a new addition, a gospel and bluegrass show in the park.

This year's parade will have a different route which will start at the Community Center and Park Street.

It will turn at the red light on 32, passing by the vendors and activities and circle back around to the community center.

Saturday registration for the Irwin County Big Red Band’s Sweet Tater Trot will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the band room of Irwin County High School at 149 Chieftain Circle.

The 1-miIe run and walk starts at 7 a.m. and the 5K race starts at 7:30 a.m.

From 9 am.—5 p.m., the Arts & Crafts Fair will be held on and near the grounds of the old Irwin County Elementary School on Fourth Street. The fair draws hundreds of craft booths, food vendors and games to Ocilla each year. This fair is a major fund raiser for Sunny Dale Service Center.

From 10 am. to 2 p.m., the Ninth Annual American Legion Post 200 Antique Car, Truck and Tractor Show will show dozens of beautiful vehicles located in the Ocilla Baptist Church Parking Lot, 201 N. Irwin Ave.

Trophies will be awarded at 2 p.m. From 8-10 a.m, the parade line-up will be at the Community House, according to the release.

The parade starts at 11 a.m. and will feature, floats, motorcycles, horses, bands, beauty queens and more. The parade route will extend from up Irwin Avenue and turn left on 32 at the traffic light, past the vendors and circle back to the Community House. The Scilla-Irwin Chamber will be selling T-shirts and cookbooks during the festivities.

A gospel and bluegrass show and wing cook off will be held in Cumbee Park, 2-7 p.m. Pickled Holler, Mt. Calvary Pickers, The Pluck Tones and Evergreen Family Band will play. Admission is free. For reserved seating, call Darla Bigger at 229-425-8081.

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