Thursday, July 24 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:46:21 GMT
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night.More >>
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night. More >>
WARWICK, GA (WALB) -
A popular south Georgia festival has been canceled this year. The National Grits Festival in Warwick will not be held because its long time sponsor backing out of the annual event, which was a big economic draw for the small city.
When you drive through Warwick you can't miss the signs advertising the National Grits Festival. For the past 15 years, the event has drawn thousands to Warwick.
Ricky Hardin owns Stripling's General Store. He and other business owners in Warwick relied on the second weekend in April as an economic boost.
"We always look forward that weekend," he said. "It was a big weekend for our businesses around here because people come all over for the festival. We've been a sponsor for years and furnished sausage for breakfast and when people would try our sausage they would come back to see us and buy some on their way home."
But organizers say they learned this year that sponsor Quaker Oats was backing out due to budget cuts. The festival the drew about 5,000 folks to the city of 500 had no choice but to call off the 2013 festival.
Like other south Georgia towns that offer Fire Ant, Wild Chicken, and Peanut festivals. The Grits Fest was a part of Warwick's identity.
"We were disappointed. It's been a part of us for a long time. The little city of Warwick has basically been drying up and it's kept going, people coming in once a year. We just really hate to see it be gone," said Hardin.
Organizers say while they're shocked and disappointed, they're working tirelessly to make sure the festival is back for 2014, Grit Pit and all. Organizers say the Grits Festival has provided scholarships and money that went back into the community.
They are planning a Spring Fling event to be held in Warwick on April 20th. They're looking for people to donate auction items. For more information call 229-869-5550.