WHISTLE STOP FESTIVAL
Every April, Wayne County celebrates its rich railroad heritage with the annual Whistle Stop Festival – an event that draws arts and crafts vendors from more than a half-dozen states to display their wares plus more than 11,000 spectators to take in the sights and sounds of this one-of-a-kind street celebration.
The festival is hosted by TEAM W – an acronym for Together Energizing and Motivating Waynesboro – as a way of encouraging civic pride, promoting the railroad history of the area and boosting the local economy by drawing large crowds to Waynesboro’s historic downtown business district.
The event got its start in 2004, and has steadily grown over the years to become one of the region and state’s most anticipated events of the spring. Newspapers and magazines have spotlighted the small-town charm of the festival, which has led visitors to come from across the South to enjoy our hospitality.
Activities at the Whistle Stop Festival include a 5-kilometer run-walk through the streets of Waynesboro, the Choo Choo Revue dog parade, an antique car and motorcycle show, children’s rides and activities, live entertainment, and more than 150 vendors offering everything from handcrafted bags and belts to just about any food item a person could want.
Booth spaces, which are 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, are available on a first-come-first-served basis with the application deadline typically set in March. In addition, booth spaces with electrical power are available on a limited basis.
TEAM W has established participation rates for non-profits as well as businesses taking part in the festival through the rental of booth spaces.
Appropriately, the festival centers itself around the railroad line that passes through downtown Waynesboro – not far from where passenger trains once carried people to and from Wayne County and where cargo trains still carry the goods produced in the area to national and international markets.
Those who would like to participate as a vendor in the Whistle Stop Festival or those who want more information about the festivities can contact TEAM W representative Patsy Brewer at 601-735-2268 or call toll-free at 1-866-735-2268. She can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Whistle Stop Festival also has a Facebook page and the latest information related to the event can be found there.
RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRY CELEBRATION
As the summer heats up each July in Wayne County, area residents come out in style to celebrate two major activities – the nation’s Independence Day holiday and the growth of the local blueberry crop with the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce’s “Red, White and Blueberry Celebration.”
In years past, the event was simply known as the Fourth of July Celebration, but the name was changed to not only maintain the patriotic theme of the program, but to also draw attention tp the value of the Wayne County blueberry crop – one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the region and the Magnolia State.
Held in downtown Waynesboro, the program features live entertainment throughout the day of the program, and welcomes a variety of vendors selling everything from arts and crafts to food and refreshments. Potential vendors, who will be located in the municipal parking lot at the corner of Station and Wayne streets, can contact the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce for booth space rental information.
The evening is traditionally capped around 9 p.m., with a fireworks display that is launched from the city’s Southside Community Park and can be seen clearly from the festival site.
The Red, White and Blueberry Celebration has grown through the years to include a local talent show, in which singers and dancers get the opportunity to perform before a panel of judges for a chance to take the stage for the main program, which is traditionally held on the Saturday evening prior to July 4.
Another event associated with the celebration is the annual Blueberry pageant in which children and young adults – boys and girls from ages 0 to 18 -- vie for trophies, prizes and recognition, and a three-day carnival also comes to town bringing midway rides, attractions and food to downtown Waynesboro.
Children’s rides and activities are held at the celebration site along Wayne Street.
Wayne County’s Miss Hospitality also makes a guest appearance at the Red, White and Blueberry Celebration – just weeks before competing in the state pageant held in Hattiesburg at the historic Saenger Theatre.
For information on the annual Red, White and Blueberry Celebration, contact the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce at 601-735-3311 or visit www.waynesboroinfo.com.