Each year, I eagerly fill my calendar with dates of fall festivals. My favorite has quickly become Oxfordfest in Oxford, Alabama –our new hometown. Oxford lies along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Mt. Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama. Although Oxford continues to expand and branch out, the autumn celebration is always held in the old downtown area I love. Here places are set up for dozens of craft vendors, folks working grills and ladies tending tables filled with homemade sweets, or preserves. The smell of kielbasa with sautéed onions, homemade corn dogs, funnel cakes, and coffee floats in the fall air.
Not only is the festival a feast for the nose and stomach –it is a feast for the eyes. How can you not feel happy, walking around with a crisp breeze dimpling your skin, the air rich with the smells of food cooking, vibrant color everywhere?
Of all the rich craftwork found, my favorites are easily tooled leather and wood. Everett Martin’s hand-turned wooden bowls and Peggy’s carved/etched & painted gourds are an example of true craftsmanship. Their shop, Gourds and More, is located in Ohatchee, Alabama. (If you missed them at Oxfordfest they will be at the Little River Canyon festival the first Saturday in November.)
How unfortunate I vowed not to purchase anything for myself.
All about are the sounds of happiness –children and families laughing and talking, a gospel band sings in the distance. Community. It just feels right. Representatives from neighboring churches are present. Politicians are too –both handing out pamphlets and business cards.
Oxford Police Department is also here, busy working with droves of moms and dads who are anxious to take advantage of the Child ID kits. It is amazing how active the department is in Oxford. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy living here -doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you are out and about you notice that they are out and about as well. Travis, and I were returning from Publix one afternoon and caught a glimpse of our Chief, Bill Partridge out helping a motorist change a flat. I sang his praises all the way home. If I’d had a camera, I’d have posted the pic on Twitter or Facebook to brag! I grew up in a really small town, and we didn’t even know our chief’s name.
Chief Bill Partridge with Attorney General Luther Strange
My morning ended with a search for Eastaboga Bee Company’s table. I’ve been wanting to purchase a couple of jars of local honey and only recently learned about Justin Hill’s booming business. With over 80 hives, they not only produce a ton of honey, they also have select beeswax products. One of the beers at Cheaha Brewing Company is made using his honey. Unfortunately, it was not available when we visited this weekend. Although I missed him at the fall festival, I’ll be catching up with Justin later this week.
*A huge ‘thank you’ to my son, Jonathan Isaac Parks, for the amazing photographs!
Elizabeth Mozley McGrady
We Share The Same Sky, a memoir