By JB Clark
AMORY – The Amory Railroad Festival is about arts and crafts, cars, music and games, but ask almost anyone what the best part of the festival is and they are likely to talk about Bethel Apostolic Church’s apple fritters.
Halfway down the road of food vendors, mostly churches, a tent full of smiling faces wearing blue shirts that say “Bethel” or “I got my fritter fix,” works systematically to scoop, fry, powder and serve fritters.
Coy Hill, former pastor of Bethel and one of the early organizers of Amory’s Railroad Festival, said his wife Margie got an idea to sell apple fritters during the second year of the festival. Since she couldn’t find a recipe she liked, she came up with her own.
Now, 35 years later, she and her daughters prepared 45 five-gallon buckets of the apple fritter batter for the festival.
“And we’re running low so we’llprobably have to make some more,” Coy Hill said early Saturday.
He said a local math teacher had students estimate the number of fritters sold by the church over the years and after putting pen to paper, the students came up with numbers in the millions.
Gatlin Williams, 14, of Amory, was getting his apple fritter fix Saturday afternoon.
“This one is fresh so it’s great,” he said as he took a bit of the fried apple and cinnamon batter coated in powdered sugar. “This is the only time you can get them so it’s one of the main reasons I come to the railroad festival.”
“They’re just good,” Hill said. “Some folks say they’re almost addictive and we only make them once a year so people want them even more. Some people drive from as far as Memphis to get a fritter. In fact, we had some folks earlier who drove from Birmingham.”
Part of the proceeds will go to build a church in Ivory Coast, Africa.
The fritters, while hot, fresh and popular, aren’t the only draw to the festival. Mike Ford, one of the organizers of the Tenn-Tom Cruiser’s car show, said this year they had 195 cars, more than any of their shows in recent years.
“There are a lot of great, quality cars here today,” he said. “And they come from all over the state and Alabama.”
He said some date back as far as the 30s and he even saw a four-door Ford Edsel. “It’s the first one I’ve ever seen and we’ve been doing this show for 14 years.”
All proceeds from the car show’s shirt sale went to St. Jude and Ford said they expect to generate enough sales to pass $30,000 in donations since they began seven years ago.
Cheryl Peeler of Beta Sigma Phi said the 170 arts and crafts vendors is a great turnout after bad weather last year deterred some vendors from returning.
The Junkyard Gypsies sold reclaimed wooden furniture and decorations for the first time last year and said the beautiful weather and large crowd this year had them exceeding last year’s total sales by Saturday afternoon.