McLemoresville Cotton Festival
BY ERNIE SMOTHERS
MCLEMORESVILLE (October 7) — Despite overcast skies and bouts of rain, town residents and guests gathered downtown to enjoy a day filled with fellowship, fun and memories at the annual McLemoresville Cotton Festival.
Inside the town’s activities center, longtime McLemoresville Mayor Phil Williams smiled as he previewed a compilation DVD entitled “Anniversary Movie”, showcasing the antics and talents of various local acts and individuals living and deceased that appeared on stage at the center during event talent shows from 1988 to 2012.
Joined by fellow event coordinator Angie Martin, the two laughed and reminisced about the hilarious hijinks of cast members as snippets of performances illuminated the projector screen.
During an interview with The Banner, Martin said, “We’ve had so much fun through the years with the talent show. It is a blessing to see so many performances on the video featuring folks that are no longer with us. It is also fun watching youngsters perform that are now all grown up. It warms your heart to be able to look back in time and recall wonderful people and memories. We are a tight-knit community, and this event is such a blessing.”
Martin continued, “We have held the McLemoresville Cotton Festival since 1987. The only year we didn’t have it was 2002. In addition to visiting with folks and recounting events and people that meant so much to our community, the festival also provides our town with the opportunity to honor the importance and impact the cotton industry has made.”
Williams concurred, “Being a small, agriculturallybased community, McLemoresville has benefitted enormously over the years by its ties to cotton production. The town’s cotton production dates back to the Chance and Alexander Gin that burned in 1891 with all machinery and 23 bales of cotton lost in the blaze. Four years later, the Deshong and Hurdle Cotton Gin burned as well.”
He continued, “In 1898, Mr. J.H. Bramley established Bramley’s Gin which has operated continuously from that time. Since being purchased by Mr. Billy Espey in 1974, Espey’s commitment to modernize its ginning equipment has transformed production from a bale or two an hour to last year’s production of nearly 40,000 bales. In 2006, Espey Gin produced the most cotton in its history via 51,655 bales.”
He added, “Needless to say, the economic impact to our community by cotton production and farming is huge, and we are proud to have this event each year to honor agriculture’s impact on our town.”
He concluded, “We always look forward to coming together for the McLemoresville Cotton Festival each October. We enjoy visiting with old friends and visitors and making new memories. It is a great event for the community, and we welcome everyone to attend.”
The annual event also featured the McLemoresville Cotton Festival Beauty Pageant at West Carroll Primary School.