Peeking into the past
By By Adam Prestridge
The dark, dreary clouds that blanketed Atmore with heavy rains last Thursday and Friday finally gave way to the sun as it peeked through around 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
The 15th annual Williams Station Day was scheduled to begin in less than a day and organizers with the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce still had their work cut out for them. The rains had soaked much of the festival grounds and a lot of work was still ahead, but organizers and volunteers sloshed through the mud and muck to ensure the festival went on as scheduled.
"I must admit preparation for this year's Williams Station Day was somewhat of a challenge," Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Emilie Mims said. "Friday's terrible storms forced our volunteers to begin behind schedule. While we were able to mark vendor spaces on Thursday, between storms, most of the preparation was accomplished late Friday afternoon and Saturday morning."
Vendors began setting up shop Friday evening and continued into the night, only to wake early Saturday morning to complete their booths. Despite a cold, cloudy start Mims said she could not have asked for a better day.
"Despite a shaky start from a weather standpoint, the skies cleared by 10 a.m. and the day was incredible," she said. "I would say the sun coming out from behind the clouds was the high point of the day for everyone."
The sun began peeking out from the clouds just in time for opening ceremonies. Lou Vickery welcomed members of the community to the event followed by an invocation by the Rev. Sandra Mayer of Trinity Episcopal Church. Members of the Escambia County High School JROTC then raised the American Flag and Atmore's Lana Langford sang the Star Spangled Banner. Mayor Howard Shell then read a proclamation signed by the Atmore City Council recognizing the Williams Station Day. Mims later offered her appreciation to everyone in attendance and presented Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Chairman Buford Rolin with a painting for being the Chamber's 2006 corporate sponsor.
"Overall, I feel the day was a tremendous success," Mims said. "If you visit other area festivals, you quickly understand the uniqueness of Williams Station Day. We have so many different venues; something for everyone and many are not only entertaining, but also educational. The biggest hit this year was probably the entertainers we brought in for the main stage and storytelling. Willie King drew a very big crowd and storytellers, Pat Mendoza and Paula Larke, were both incredible."
Throughout the day thousands of patrons visited the many booths including paintings, pottery, collectibles, food and much more lining historic Pensacola Avenue. Mims said the vendors were happy with their results.
"The vendors, for the most part, were pleased with sales," she said. "Crowds were great from mid morning to about 3 p.m. and then I think the football games were a pull."
Mims said she would like to thank the many volunteers that helped make Williams Station Day 2006 a success. Those volunteers include, the Atmore Garden Club, memorabilia booth; Atmore Women's Club, Chamber information booth; Keith Castleberry; Sharon Smith and Lou Vickery, entertainment; Nancy Helton, finances; Mark Clayton, Williams Station Day Express; Jerry Gehman, Alabama &Gulf Coast static display; Lisa and Steve Reynolds with Montgomery, Cane Mill; Greg and Marcella Wilson, food vendors; Dale Hurst, ice delivery; Dan Allen Currie, model train show; Sharon Delmar, Poarch Creek Indian cultural display; Atmore Rotary Club, hayride; Foster Kizer of Royal Oaks Bed &Breakfast and Days Inn for accommodations; the employees of United Bank who shared breakfast with everyone; Gwen Dorriety, artist hospitality; the Atmore Area YMCA; Nick Drew and The First National Bank &Trust, fiddler's tent; Cathy McKinley of the Atmore Public Library, storytelling tent, Chad Green, Young Life Pumpkin Patch; Leslie and Doug at Central Farm Supply, pumpkin painting and carving contest; "Atmore News," Remembering Atmore Photography Contest; office ladies, Deborah Daniel, Tenille Horning and Janet Allen; Chamber Ambassadors; Sara Beck; Joann Moore and a big thank you to the congregation of Grace Fellowship, who saved the day on Saturday by sending 18 volunteers to help with setting up, Mims said.
"Also, a special thank you, again to our festival sponsors, Poarch Creek Indians, United Bank, Frontier Communication Solutions, Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union, Chuck Stevens Automotive, Swift Supply and Masland," Mims said. "And our venue sponsors, First National Bank and Trust, Alto Products Corporation and Alabama Power Company."