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Spring Fling right on track

Plans continue to come together for the City of Andalusia's Spring Fling/Homespun Country Hoedown events, to be held April 11 and 12.

Leisure Service Director Dwight Mikel gave an update on the progress of those plans during the regular meeting of the Andalusia City Council Tuesday night.

"Spring Fling is about here the staff at our office has worked very hard in the areas they have been assigned and their main responsibilities, and it's coming together real well,"

said Mikel. "The only problem (with the planning) is that some of the planning does not happen until the last week. A lot of people wait until the final week to register as a vendor, or as a Classic Car or things such as that. We are so far ahead this year from where we were at this time last year it is unbelievable."

He said 65 cars are already registered after only 70 total were registered last year and he said 35 arts and craft vendors are registered after only 60 registered last year.

"We have 11 softball teams but said the city is still hoping for a total of 15 squads and we have seven barbecue cookoff teams who are already registered, and we only had eight last year," said Mikel. "Things are looking up. I will be going to Mobile this weekend for an extremely large barbecue cookoff, and I hate to have to do that, but I am going to see if I can recruit a few more (barbecue cooks). We already have over 40 judges coming from across the southeast."

Events scheduled for Friday, April 11,

in conjunction with the Homespun Hoedown, include gospel singing with the Merry Melodies, dance contest, an Elvis impersonator, senior gala parade, lawn mower races and a performance by the band Issues.

Scheduled events for Saturday, April 12 include a performance by the Andalusia High School Chorus, a magic show by Gary Ledbetter, barbecue judging, lawn mower races and a performance by the Andalusia Ballet.

"We also have $10,000 worth of inflatable children's play equipment coming in for two days," said Mikel. "We are looking forward to a great crowd of kids out there. We also have musical entertainment and magicians, with several individuals and groups lined up."

We have lawnmower races lined up for both Friday and Saturday. We don't have the exact number on Friday night as far as the local folks who will be involved but we know there's over 35 coming in from out of town on Saturday night to ride in the more sanctioned events."

"My lawnmower doesn't do 75 miles per hour," said Councilman Harry Hinson.

He said his staff is trying to stress increased participation with local cooks.

"When you go to a lot of these large towns and a lot of other communities that have cookoffs,

about 25 to 30 percent of their cookers are a part of what is called large circuit teams, that travel virtually every weekend and compete," said Mikel. "The other 65 percent of those are local people from within 35 to 40 miles of the locale. We are trying to increase that interest and we've offered some special incentives. There is over $10,000 in prize money to be given out in the barbecue cookoff."

He added that $1,650 is guaranteed to be given to someone from Covington County.

"A lot of people won't enter (the cookoff) because they don't really know what they have to do or what the process is," said Mikel. "I have also met with all the fire departments in the county and we've encouraged them to compete in their own little segment of this cookoff."

In terms of promoting the event, Mikel said about 10,000 fliers will be made available, with 5,000 going out on a certain date to subscribers of the Andalusia Star-News. The other 5,000 will be distributed during the actual event.

He said also 35,000 12-page tabloids which will be distributed in newspapers in Andalusia, Luverne, Troy and papers that the Star-News actually prints.

The tabloids will include pictures from previous Spring Fling events and information on certain areas such as Classic Cars and arts and crafts.

In addition, Mikel said Alabama Electric Cooperative is assisting the Leisure Services department in producing 30-second television spots. Radio stations will also doing remote reports from various Spring Fling locations.