There were fried chitlins,' boiled chitlins and plenty of hot sauce as the 21st Annual Chitlin' Hoedown in Yatesville this weekend went off without a hitch.
Hundreds packed into Yatesville, gobbling down close to 2,000 pounds of chitterlings in what the event's chairman called "the biggest Chitlin' Hoedown" he's ever seen.
"Saturday, we had the biggest crowd of people I've ever seen in Yatesville," said former Mayor Walter Boyt, president of the Yatesville Senior Citizens Club and chairman of this year's festival. "We have cooked more than 1,700 pounds of chitlins so far and if the rain doesn't hurt us too bad today (Sunday) we might cook as much as 3,000 pounds."
The crowd was smaller on Sunday because of sporadic afternoon showers, but Boyt said there's no doubt this year's event exceeded everyone's expectations.
Events kicked off Saturday with a parade featuring Mr. and Mrs. Chitlin', Thomas and Nell Eubanks. The Grand Marshal was Bootsie Curry. Businesses along Main Street were open and vendors were everywhere selling everything from art to toys to jewelry to brooms and mops.
There were arts and crafts and live entertainment. There were plenty of games for children, but most importantly, there were lots of friends gathering for a visit.
"It's the tradition that's the best thing," said Jessi Mulling, a Yatesville resident who attends Gordon College. "I love to come to the Chitlin Festival every year because getting to see everybody and talk to people I haven't seen in a while is good."
For much of the evening Saturday, festival-goers were entertained with soft rock played by J.B. Slicker. On Sunday, gospel music performed by Shady Grove with Jim Hamill, formerly of the Kingsmen Quartet, filled the air.
"I like to come here and buy stuff," said 8-year-old Daniel Warford, a third grader at Upson-Lee North who made off from this year's event with a rubber band gun and a marshmallow gun. "I also played a bunch of games and that was fun."
"Everything about is good," said 7-year-old Kevin Thompson while walking down the fairway swinging his newly-acquired ball of water on a string. "There's just a bunch of different things to do here."
Maggie Vaughn was the official fried chitlin' batter-maker this year and said making the Southern food taste just right requires just the right mix of salt, pepper, water, flour, eggs and milk.
Jack Ruffin was in charge of the boiled chitlins. spending much of the weekend stirring a huge metal vat. "I'm nothing special here," he said with a smile as he stirred. "I'm just an ol' chitlin cook."
Not everyone had a taste for chitlins, so there was plenty of Yatesville's renowned barbecue chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and many other tasty choices available.
"I've had the chitlins before, but this year, I'm going to stick with the chicken," said Mark Esso of Yatesville. "I just think it's great to have a chance to come here and see everybody."
"People crowded in, but there was plenty of elbow room," said Boyt, referring to a fairway lined with vendors just off the main street. "It's amazing how many people you can fit in this area and everyone's had a wonderful time."
The Hoedown is the major fund raiser for the senior citizens' group and provides an opportunity for other groups to raise money by offering crafts and food.
"I'm not sure how we did money wise this year, but we did well," he said.