COTR gets cooking

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

More than 350 people passed through the gates of Gaineswood Mansion Thursday night to witness the candlelight tours, listen to stories and music while filling up on refreshments and relaxing during a carriage ride around the grounds.

“People really seemed to enjoy seeing the basement and the observatory,” Gaineswood Director Matt Hartzell said. He said the carriage rides were a big hit as well.

“We’re very pleased,” with the way the night went, Hartzell said. He said offering several things to do, like the various tours and the carriage rides, keeps the crowd separated somewhat instead of having everyone crowded into the house at one time.

Though the program is over, Hartzell said the work is not done.

“We’re looking to next year already,” he said. Additionally, the home will be open for guided tours Saturday at 9 and 10 a.m. and for Open House from 1-3 p.m.

“We will close at 3 for a private tour for a group from Birmingham,” Hartzell said.

The weekend really started gearing up Friday night with the kick off to the annual Alabama State Championship BBQ Cookoff. The cookoff officially began at 4 p.m., with cooking teams from all over the country unloading their grills and basters, meat and spices in preparation for an evening of cooking.

“This is their night to play,” Jay Shows, director of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “Saturday is really a day for the judges and competitors, but Friday they are getting ready for cooking and they’re hanging out with friends.”

And the last day of the week-long celebration, Saturday, holds much in store for visitors and locals alike.

Bright and early, at 7:30 a.m., vendors will open their booths for trade during the annual Fair in the Square. Thirty minutes later, registration will begin for the Jingle Bell Run 5k.

At 11:30 a.m. the Children’s Parade will begin, with Andrew Zow leading the way and Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley and grandson, Ren, riding.

At 2 p.m., the free family movie, The Grinch that Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey, will be shown at the old school on Main Street.

At 4 p.m. the judges will announce the winners of the BBQ cookoff and one team will take home the trophies.

As the sun goes down and the evening draws to a close, First Lady Patsy Riley will serve as Grand Marshal over the Nautical Parade which will begin at 6:30 p.m. Immediately following the parade will be the Grande Finale of Fantasy Fireworks and the Christmas on the River dance at the Civic Center. Cost for the dance is $10 and dress is formal. The dance is only open to those 21 and older.