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Thomaston gears up for pepper jelly event

THOMASTON &8212; Although the name has changed, the town known for its unique barbeCue and pepper jelly is set to celebrate their rural heritage at this Saturday&8217;s Pepper Jelly Festival.

Chef Dodd Orten, who joined the staff of Mama Nem&8217;s Bistro just a few months ago, said he is looking forward to the festival and its &8220;carnival atmosphere.&8221;

The attractions at the festival include an open class car show, local artist booths featuring handmade crafts, a children&8217;s play area with inflatable bounces and moonwalks, an antique tractor display, live entertainment from local bands and choirs and a generations contest which will award a prize to the family with the most generations present.

But to coordinate with the festival&8217;s featured product, Mama Nem&8217;s pepper jelly, there will be a recipe contest where entrants will submit dishes that contain at least one tablespoon of the famous jelly.

But pepper jelly won&8217;t be the only dish to sample at Saturday&8217;s events. Mama Nem&8217;s will also be serving plates of the town&8217;s other culinary claim to fame: Thomaston barbecue.

In addition to barbecue, other venders selling the usual festival fare will be set up at the Rural Heritage Center.

The event, which will take the place of the former Rural Fun Day, has been moved to earlier in the year to take advantage of good weather according to Jennifer James, one of the Rural Heritage Center board members.

Also, the festival has garnered attention in the April issue of Southern Living magazine, will be the product of a lot of hard work over a short period of time.

James explains the date for the event had been set while the Rural Heritage Center still had a director. After that office vacated, the center&8217;s board members began overseeing its operations and activities. They were unaware of the festival&8217;s date until the second week of March, leaving them approximately a month before the event.

Those benefits have the potential of being greater than initially expected as the Southern Living article has provided the festival statewide attention.

While the turnout is expected to be high, organizers are not concerning themselves with quantity as much as they are quality.

Times Sports Editor Jeremy D. Smith contributed to this report.