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City ready to fling into Spring

It started out as simple get-together, a time for area senior citizens to gather in a way that reminded them of their youth. It was a time to dance the old country square dances, to socialize, and to share an old-fashioned meal of fried chicken.

Like many good things, the Homespun Country Hoedown has grown. And grown.

"We started this years ago. The Homespun Country Hoedown began as a day of appreciation for senior adults. It's an old-fashioned get-together barn dance like people used to do," said Dianne Jones, director of the Andalusia Adult Activities Center, which coordinates the event. "It started out as a frolic day and it just bloomed and blossomed. We thought if we had 500 people show up it would be a really good crowd. This year, we are expecting 2,500."

The hoedown is being held in conjunction with the Spring Fling this year and will take place at the Kiwanis Building from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is free - except for the meals - and open to all adults, not just senior citizens, Jones said.

Dancing won't be the only activity going on, she said although it is a popular facet and there will be a dance contest during the day, as well as door prizes offered by area merchants.

"This year we've added in our 'Andy 500' - golf cart racing at its best. They get to race the golf carts and they get trophies for first place and ribbons.

"Well also be having the classic car show, of course, and there will all kinds of stuff going on at the midway, and arts and crafts booths."

The doors will be open at 8 a.m., but the events really begin at 9 a.m., with a gospel singing, and at 9:30, when Mayor Earl Johnson will host the opening ceremonies and the Senior Gala Parade.

"We'll have almost all of our local dignitaries out," Jones said. "In the past, we have had every state governor attend."

Entertainment will be provided by Ron Taylor and the Country Brand, and by the King himself, Elvis. Or at least, a close facsimile thereof, in the form of Bill Brooks, an Elvis impersonator who will perform from 1 to 2 p.m.

"We'll be crowning our Cookie Queen for the best cookies," said Jones, who said the contestants were coming from all over the state - and out of state. The Hoedown, she said, has been attended in the past by visitors from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

"We've got groups coming in from all over - we've already got 24 or 25 groups registered from all over the state and out of state. I know we have several groups coming from Florida this time."

Once the visitors arrive, they will find, not only fun, dancing and games, but food - and lots of it, from fried chicken to barbecued ribs to barbecued chicken. The usual midway fare will be well represented with hotdogs, hamburgers, and even cotton candy.

"It's going to be a great day - come early and get a good seat!" said Jones.