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Skillet Festival brings old-fashioned feel – The Union |

Skillet Festival brings old-fashioned feel – The Union

QUITMAN — Malekia Jones and Willie Charles Clemons each held a five-pound skillet loosely in their hand as they took aim.

Then, with a smooth underhand throw, the skillets flew through the air at the target about 15 feet away.

At the Eighth Annual Skillet Festival, Jones, Clemons and about 30 others competed in the skillet-tossing competition, where participates throw a small cast-iron skillet at a target. The closest to the target wins a small skillet and bragging rights until the next festival.

Nikki Bradley, one of the founders of the festival, said the skillet toss began to see who could throw the skillet the farthest.

“That got super dangerous, so we started doing it for accuracy,” Bradley said. “We just wanted a quirky something that would draw people out. The first person to throw a skillet was Gov. (Nathan) Deal.”

She said the first Skillet Festival was “cooked up” to bring tourism to Brooks County. 

The Brooks County Chamber of Commerce teamed up with another group and chose skillets because every Southern family has at least one cast-iron skillet in the home.

“We thought it was a unifying item that would bring everybody together,” Bradley said. “And who doesn’t like good food?”

The festival went from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Brooks County Courthouse Lawn, 100 E. Screven St. 

Kelly Hanks, festival director with the chamber, said the festival usually has about 3,000 people but this was the biggest year yet. She said the number of vendors has doubled through the years, too.

“We really work to streamline our vendor selection, so we get really good people in here and offer a unique festival experience for the area,” Hanks said.

The festival works as a way to highlight the local agriculture and to spread the word of Brooks County, which is the world record holder for the most skillets tossed simultaneously, she said. 

It also brings in thousands of dollars to the city and county while attracting people from across the state and from North Florida, she said.

As for the future of the Skillet Festival, Hanks said the chamber will continue bringing high-quality vendors and will work to attract more people. However, she said the chamber wants to keep that small town feel.

“We want to continue to keep the integrity of the festival,” she said. “We want it to feel like that old country fair. We want everything homemade and handmade with lots of delicious food, singing and dancing. Just that old-fashioned feel that no one gets anymore.” 

Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256

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