Scaling back the Sweet Tater Festival this year apparently did little to scale back turnout. At midday Monday, Smith Lake Park looked as busy as ever, despite the fact that this year’s event filled only half the time slot it typically does.
Great weather, free admission, and perhaps a little cabin fever at the end of a long, festival-free summer may all have conspired to bring the crowds out to celebrate the locally-grown orange spud this Labor Day. But whatever it was, the result was the same: plenty of food, music, dancing, and browsing among the vendor tents filled with interesting arts and crafts.
Typically held over two days on Labor Day weekend, this year’s festival was limited to a Monday-only affair due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though shorter in length, the festival still brought out the classic and antique cars for the nearby car show, plenty of food trucks and arts vendors, pony rides and a petting zoo, and enough golf carts to turn the thoroughfares between the vendor tents into a grassy, low-speed freeway.
Staged by the Cullman County Parks department, 2020 marked the 24th year in the long-running series commemorating one of the many agricultural goodies this area’s known for.
For Jennifer Groom and her pet bulldog Harley, the festival marked just another day at the park — literally. Perched on a golf cart to take in music at the festival’s main stage, the Hayden resident said she and her family use Smith Lake Park as a frequent weekend getaway. The only difference Monday was that they had plenty of company.
“We have a boat here, and we come here just about every weekend,” she said, “so it’s nothing new for us. It’s a nice park, and we’ve made a lot of friends here.”
The same was true for Barbie Nichols of Nauvoo, dressed up in red, white, and blue along with her daughter and grandchildren — all of whom said this year’s Sweet Tater Festival isn’t their first rodeo at the park.
“Oh, we like it here; we always come,” she said. “It’s just a good place to bring your family.”