By Jennifer Farish
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
BRUCE – The smell of hamburgers and funnel cakes filled the Square here Friday afternoon as food and craft vendors claimed their spots for the annual Bruce Sawmill Festival.
The festival officially kicked off at 6 a.m. with a performance by Kay Bain and the Morning Show Band and will continue today with food, arts, crafts, children's activities and gospel singing.
Friday afternoon, Calhoun City resident Glen Hollis was among vendors setting up booths of everything from wood carvings and handbags to flags and T-shirts.
Hollis, who is retired, has been making wooden swings, gliders, tables and patio furniture by hand for more than 20 years.
“I sold my farm, and I needed something to do,” he said. “I made a swing for my porch and then people started wanting me to make one for them.”
At a typical festival, Hollis said he usually sells between five and 10 pieces of furniture but he has sold as many as 25 in a single weekend.
“Flea markets are not what they used to be,” he said. “I think there are just more of them.”
Derma resident Willie Schmitz travels to many of the area festivals to sell her home-crafted doll dresses and baby booties.
“I usually go to Ecru, Calhoun City, Houston, Bruce, Belmont, Booneville, Okolona and then end at Vardaman,” she said.
Schmitz said she usually sees good sales at the festivals but agreed there is less interest in hand-crafted goods these days.
Headlining Friday night's music was Nashville gospel music singer Ann Downing, who has garnered Dove awards and a place in the Gospel Hall of Fame during her 40-year career.
Downing, whose mother still lives in Bruce, has performed at the festival for the past several years.
More than 100 arts and crafts vendors are expected to display their wares at the festival today, along with demonstrations by the Harley Davidson motorcycle club from Memphis and antique car collectors.
Proceeds from this year's festival will help fund a new museum to honor the town's history.
Each service club that benefits from the event will donate money to purchase a vacant building for the Bruce Forestry Museum, said Faye Morris with the Bruce Chamber of Commerce.
The city has a state grant that will fund renovation of the building and fabrication of exhibits for the museum.
The service clubs sponsoring the festival include the Lion's Club, Chamber of Commerce, 20th Century Club, Masons Club, DAR, Rotary Club and Fine Arts Club.
Sawmill Festival events
9 a.m. Q Welcome by Mayor Jessie Quillen
Introduction of Calhoun County Queens
Bike Run from Bowles Honda
9:15 a.m. QJEntertainment by “Backatcha”
10 a.m. Q Entertainment by Linda Smithson and Kim Burt
Antique cars and motorcycles on display
10:45 a.m. Q Entertainment by Linda Ward
Noon Q Entertainment by Kay Bain and the Morning Show Band
12:30 p.m. QJMotorcycle show at Bowles Honda
1 p.m. Q Entertainment by Michael Locke
1:45 p.m. Q Entertainment by Masonic Church Choir
2:30 p.m. Q Entertainment by Brandon Beckett
3:15 p.m. Q Entertainment by Cindy and Stephen Capell
4 p.m. Q Drawing for DAR quilt
Festival gets going with food and crafts
n The 13th Annual Bruce Sawmill Festival will continue today on the Square.