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Madison Down Home Days grows each year

Officer shakes visitor’s hand as shoppers enjoy browsing the many vendors at Madison Down Home Days, Saturday, looking for that perfect Mother’s Day gift. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

By Tami Stevenson

Attendance was even greater than organizers expected for the 38th Annual Down Home Days festival, held last Saturday. Phyllis Williams, Executive Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce that sponsors the event, said the festival was going wonderfully well.

“This is beautiful weather and we have had more people show up than expected, and more vendors than what we thought were coming,” said Williams. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, shoppers enjoyed browsing the 78 vendors that attended this year. “It has been a growing event, everyone is excited. There is a good energy here today.”

One of the festival highlights, besides the parade, is the Frog Hop Contest.

“The Frog Hop contest is hilarious when the frogs forget what they are supposed to do,” said Williams. This year Caelum Ensminger won the grand championship with his frog, “Buddy,” who hopped 2.59 feet for the win. The Frog Hop Contest is sponsored by the Madison Veterinary Clinic and former Madison County Clerk of the Court, Tim Sanders.

The local 4H Club was recognized as having the best float in the parade, held at 10:00 a.m. Sid Bontrager won the shotgun raffle and David Young from Walt’s Live Oak Ford won the Watermelon eating contest. The watermelon was provided by Browning & Sons.

On Friday evening, for the first time in 22 years, they held a street dance on SW Pinckney Street, behind the courthouse. Williams said 22 years ago they had an electrical fire during the street dance and as a result, two historical buildings went up in flames.

“So we haven’t had a live band since then,” said Williams. This year there were no fires or electrical incidences and an old tradition has been re-kindled. Live music was provided by Low Flying Planes out of Tallahassee. The band was sponsored by Tobacco Free Madison. Williams said they were amazing and the turn-out was great. Many of the local restaurants stayed open late and JW’s Smokehouse provided mouthwatering BBQ for the crowd and Scooby on Wheels with snow-cones. They would like to have the street dance again next year and are already looking forward to it.

Ford’s Drive 4 UR Community by Walt’s Live Oak Ford of Live Oak, had a booth and vehicles on hand for anyone wanting to test drive a new Ford. Funds from this event went to the Rotary Club of Madison. Dale Stone, a rotary representative, said they had well over 200 forms filled out by early afternoon. Stone explained they use the money to build handicap ramps for the disabled throughout the county. They have built 18 so far this year and just finished one this last Thursday. The Ford Drive 4 UR Community is their largest source of funding for these ramps. Stone said they couldn’t provide this service without their help. This is their third year in teaming up with Walt’s Ford to hold this drive and it is much appreciated.

George Ring from Nestle Waters came to give out water to thirsty visitors. He featured some flavored and carbonated drinks for visitors to sample as well as plain water. By early afternoon they had given out approximately 30 cases. Ring said the facility itself at Nestle in Madison employs directly and indirectly, approximately 200 people and most of them are local to the area.

Every year the citizens of Madison choose a Citizen of the Year and this year the award went to John Bullard. Williams also wanted to give a special thank you to their grand sponsor, Nestle Water, and to the other sponsors as well as all the volunteers and everyone that helped make the festival possible.

Williams would like to invite everyone to come out next year for a great time as the event continues to grow.
Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Green Publishing, Inc, along with John Willoughby and Cheltsie Holbrook for providing the frog hop contest photo and information.

-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Brandy Buchanan and her frog “Dash” won first place in the childrens division, hopping a whopping 3.39 feet. -Photo Courtesy of Greene Publishing, Inc. by Cheltsie Holbrook, April 27, 2019.

Walt’s Live Oak Ford held a Ford Drive 4 UR Community to help the Rotary Club of Madison build ramps for the disabled. This is their third year and is the groups largest source of funding.
-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson