But things didn’t just fall together at the last minute. A lot of hard work by a lot of volunteers went toward making the festival a great three days for visitors as well as area residents.
No sooner than the festival had ended than committee members began seeking guidelines for the 2005 event.
Not lacking in suggestions, here’s our list:
Bring back the greased pig contest for the younger generation. They had such an event at the Lacy Orchard celebration and we think it would be a fine addition that would bring back some of the original flare.
Have some eating contests. Everyone likes to eat and it shouldn’t take much effort to generate a pie eating contest or a ham and biscuit contest.
Since it’s a Country Ham Festival, have a country ham-cooking contest.
Do away with one night of fireworks. Fireworks are pretty on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, but two nights in a row is just a waste of money.
Begin right now to seek out a name entertainer. Many festivals our size saves money and grab entertainers with more prominent name recognition than has been the case with our festival over the past few years. A well known entertainer will bring additional visitors to the area and current "big names" have followers who will travel for many miles.
A prime example is the crowd that heard Aaron Tippin in Fulton. His free concert at the town’s annual Pontotoc Celebration drew literally thousands of visitors for his Saturday night performance.
Ban pets. Why pet owners want to bring their dogs to the Ham Festival is something only a pet owner can answer. But the potential for serious problems arise when the animals decide to entangle someone’s feet with their lease. This year three of the pets – on leases – decided to fight it out in front of the Tourist Center. Someone could have been seriously injured in the melee.
We have never known the Festival to have anyone appointed to take care of publicity. Events are scheduled helter skelter and, in many cases, only those involved with the activity is aware what is planned. In order to be successful, the Ham Festival needs to set aside some of its funds for advertising – not locally, but in surrounding areas.
It would also be beneficial if the person in charge of the publicity would see that news releases are sent to area media in a timely manner to generate more interest in attendance.
Let downtown merchants have first choice on renting a booth location in front of their places of businesses. One of the first complaints we heard about the festival several years ago was that many merchants would gladly rent a booth space if they could have one near their business.
That would be a simple thing to work out. If a business wanted to pay the price of a booth space, they would need to reserve the space several months before the date of the festival. They would pay the same as other vendors pay now and generate additional funds for festival activities.
A vendor who comes to the festival had rather have larger crowds than worry if he has the same space because "that’s what I had last year."
Those are some of our suggestions and we would invite residents to submit whatever ideas they might have and share them with our readers. We have only been a resident for the past five years and although the views we have come from an "outsider" to the area, we offer the ideas from participating and attending other community festivals in several states.