July 2 – After not taking place in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Spirit of America Festival is not only back in its 54th year, but it has its strongest supplier lineup in several years.
Organizers are expecting more than 60 food and craft vendors this weekend, and most are businesses based in northern Alabama. Here is a sample of what the different vendors will offer.
Icy Does It, a new business from Decatur, is a food truck selling what Kent Sanders and his wife Ashley call ‘ice cubes’, a dessert like crushed ice but including chocolate sauce, caramel, cream. house and other garnishes.
Sanders said the first spark in their business came before their wedding, when Ashley introduced Sanders to the dessert, which he didn’t know at the time.
âWe were dating about five or six years ago at the time andâ¦ visiting his parents (in Tennessee),â Sanders said. As she left she said, ‘Let’s stop and have some ice cream. “I’m thinking of something from the 7-Eleven. Long story short, we went there, I tried it, and I (thought) there was nothing like it.”
Because he anticipates a large number of patrons at the festival, Sanders said Icy Does It will have a limited menu, but people will likely be able to choose between eight to 12 flavors and have the option of adding cream and spray. sour to their frozen treats. .
Sanders said he had lived in Decatur his entire life and frequented Point Mallard Park growing up, making his presence as a salesperson this year an easy choice for him.
âI remember Point Mallard Water Park being my babysitter during the summer,â he said. “All of my childhood memories are associated there, so it’s just nice to be able to be a part of the cool festivals that were held in my childhood.”
Sanders said the truck had run on Food Truck 3rd Friday and Friday as well as the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market, but he expects to have his biggest customer turnout yet during this week’s festival. -end.
Natural treats for animals
Newly launched Cullman company Milly’s Pet Bakery is a new addition to the festival this year and will sell homemade dog treats made with natural ingredients.
Jason Pearce and his wife Dawne began framing the idea of ââdeveloping their own line of dog treats after Pearce said they were struggling to find healthy treats made in or near Alabama.
âWe spent a year developing our stuff, then COVID hit, so we were sidelined,â Pearce said. “We really started going in March, (and) the response has been quite overwhelming. Safety and health are our main goals.”
Milly’s treats don’t include any by-products or sugars, Pearce said, and the company sources most of its ingredients from regional farms.
âAll of our meat is from Brick Yard in Cullman, all of our vegetables are from local farmers, and our eggs are from an egg farm in Fairview,â he said. “We had to make our own peanut butter. We also made our own apple blossoms until we found some at Whole Foods that were the same setup as what we were using and the same cost.”
Jerky, Milly Treats, and Marsh Millies, which Pearce says are like “dog marshmallows,” will likely be the bakery’s offerings at the festival.
Pearce said he and Dawne said the festival would likely be the biggest event and the first in the area of ââDecatur-Morgan County where they operated.
Randy Stockton is another seller who settles in this year, bringing his engraved designs from his home in Milton, Tennessee. Stockton owns Bradley Creek Designs and said he learned about this year’s event while working with organizer Shannon Wright at other events.
âWe had nothing in July, but (Wright) told us about it and we thought we would give it a shot,â Stockton said.
Stockton said his interest in printmaking stemmed from his other passion, beekeeping, where he wanted to add designs to his beehives. He discovered that he needed a CNC machine to achieve the desired effect. Nonetheless, he found himself curious as to what he could do with a cheaper laser and the business started from there.
âMy wife comes up with most of the designs and I have four lasers,â Stockton said. “We’ve been doing this for about two years now.”
Stockton plans to allow festival-goers to request personalized prints on site on children’s cutting boards, slates, tumblers and water bottles. He also makes engravings in leather notebooks, business card holders and mouse pads.
Of all the designs Stockton carves, he said his dearest customers are personalized family recipes carved into cutting boards.
â(My wife) writes the recipe by hand and puts it on a cutting board,â he said. “If you give it to your siblings, they’ll cry, I promise you. It’s like a family heirloom at this point.”
Spirit of America also attracted Appalachian Growers, an industrial hemp farm based in Franklin, North Carolina, focused on selling medicinal products made from CBD and hemp. Steve Yuzzi, owner of Appalachian Growers, said he discovered the festival by researching the July events in the southeast.
âWe did an online search – we booked all summer with shows from Atlanta to Raleigh and Charlotte, all over South Carolina,â Yuzzi said. “We are in a few stores in Alabama, but we haven’t had any events there.”
He said he hoped the festival would provide him with the opportunity to expand the reach of his farm as the CBD and hemp market continues to grow after the federal government passed the Farm Bill Act 2018 in December 2018. The law legalized the sale of CBD derived from industrial hemp. in many states like Alabama, as long as it has a THC concentration of less than 0.3%.
â18 months ago a business partner and I visited a (hemp) farm in Alabama several times,â he said. “They have a big processing plant there. Now I think they kind of brought him in to make medical marijuana there.”
Yuzzi got involved in the CBD and hemp industry after an entrepreneurial career running restaurants, bowling alleys, and medical spas in North Carolina.
âI was definitely not a farmer,â he said. âWhen (the CBD and hemp laws) were passed in North Carolina, I called a friend of mine who was doing it in Oregon and he said, ‘Jump in’, so I got it. ‘have done.”
Yuzzi said he would sell CBD oil, balms, lotions, pain-relieving roll-ons and lip balms at Spirit of America. He said the United States Food and Drug Administration has certified his farm as a good agricultural practice and fully organic farm.
âWe’re probably one of the few farms on the east coast that has (GAP) certification because it’s so painful to receive,â said Yuzzi. “It makes a difference.”
– [email protected] or (256) 340-2437. Twitter @timmnail