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Cold weather affects COTR celebration

From all indications, the Christmas on the River (COTR) festival attracted a smaller audience this year. The cold weather may have kept many people from attending the championship barbecue event Friday night and the variety of events on Saturday.

Donnie Lowe, this year’s BBQ chairman, said Monday that approximately 1,500 attended the Friday night event, which was low from previous years.

Crowds seemed to be lighter for the arts and crafts fair in the public square, the Children’s Day Parade and the Night Nautical Parade.

However, The Lions Club, a food vendor downtown, had better sales this year, and the people had to be turned away for the free showing Saturday of the animated film, "Beauty and the Beast."

The usual traffic problems existed. "From the cars it always seems like there are a lot of people," she said.

Last year the Home and Garden Television Network filmed a documentary on the festival, and Leverett felt that brought out a lot of interest.

This was Leverett’s fifth year working on COTR, and no matter the attendance, she was pleased with the flow of the day and night parade on Saturday. "I thought the Nautical Parade was beautiful," she said. "This year the river cooperated." There had been a problem with debris last year slowing down the night parade.

She thanked Fred and Matt Hansard of the Demopolis Yacht Basin for their help with the flow of the night parade boats.

The festival was working with a new fireworks company, and the results proved spectacular.

She and the COTR committee have already received great suggestions for next year, and the chamber welcomes more volunteers to become involved for the 2003 COTR.

She praised the many volunteers who helped build floats this year.

The COTR festival is actually not over yet. A new feature, "The Gift of Lights," will be open nightly until December 21 at the site of the old Demopolis botanical gardens.

The chamber welcomes anyone who would like to volunteer to work at the remaining nights of the "Lights" walking tour.

In a related item, here are the winners of the Alabama Championship BBQ Cookoff:

Grand Champion: Pig Pounda Kappa

(Pig Pounda Kappa already has a slot in the upcoming Memphis in May cookoff so the "pass down" rule will allow the Viking Cooking Team to travel to Memphis also.)

Anything Butt: Bad Back ‘n BBQ

Whole Hog category

First Place: Barnyard Roasters

Second Place: Allegro Gourmet

Third Place: Big Bee Que

Fourth Place: Pig Pounda Kappa

Ribs category

First Place: Pig Pounda Kappa

Second Place: Barnyard Roasters

Third Place: Viking Cooking Team

Fourth Place: Jack’s Old South

Shoulders category

First Place: Big Bob Gibson

Second Place: Jack’s Old South

Third Place: Big Bee Que

Fourth Place: Magnolia Smokers

Backyard category

First Place: Chuck Wagon Cookin’

Second Place: Linden Stockyard

Third Place: To Be BBQ