Greenbrier festival back after long hiatus

By Tammy Keith Published April 20, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Holding the Brierfest banner are, from left, Shawn Moss, chairman of the Brierfest Executive Committee; Shellie O’Quinn, director of the Melton Cotton City Event Center and secretary of the Brierfest Executive Committee; Dustin Chapman, vice president of the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce Board and a member of the Brierfest Planning Committee; and Audreya Brown, president of the chamber board and vice chair of the Brierfest Executive Committee. The festival is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Greenbrier High School.

Brierfest is back in a big way.

After almost 20 years on hiatus, the Greenbrier festival is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Greenbrier High School, 72 Green Valley Drive.

“It’s going to be a huge deal,” said Shellie O’Quinn, director of the Melton Cotton City Event Center in Greenbrier.

The event, presented by the city, includes a packed schedule of music, food, arts and crafts, a carnival, a car show, a tractor pull, a talent show, a pageant and more.

Festival hours are 6-11 p.m Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

In addition, O’Quinn said, Westside Elementary School students have designed a city flag that they will present to Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick on Saturday after the talent show, “so that’s going to be really cool.”

O’Quinn said the idea to bring back the festival came when she was trying to create The Big Event around the Moustache Dash and Mayor’s Challenge last year.

“We added live music, vendors and some activities for kids,” O’Quinn said. “We started it on a Friday night, and I kept telling people, ‘Like Brierfest, like Brierfest.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we just bring back Brierfest?’”

O’Quinn said she and Shawn Moss of Greenbrier, who was a vendor at The Big Event last year, discussed revamping Brierfest.

Moss said with a laugh that because he showed interest, the next thing he knew, he was chairing the event.

However, O’Quinn said Brierfest is separate from the Moustache Dash and Mayor’s Challenge — held last weekend — events that were designed to raise money for the Greenbrier Fire Department.

Proceeds from this year’s Brierfest will go to the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund for high school seniors and to an endowment, said Audreya Brown, president of the chamber. The chamber awards two $1,000 scholarships each year, she said.

Brown said she hasn’t experienced Brierfest, which was last held in the late 1990s.

“I don’t think I’d moved here yet, the last time there was a Brierfest, but I know that I’ve had many people tell me how fun it was and how they wished Greenbrier still had an event like that,” she said. “So I’m excited to be part of bringing this festival together and giving the community a chance to get out and enjoy themselves.”

Hartwick said he was president of the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce in the early 1990s, and the festival was held at that time.

“It was a pretty big deal. It seemed like we could never get the weather we needed; it was always tough,” he said. “We’re real excited about this one this year; we’ve got some big-name music coming, for sure.”

The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday on the First Service Bank Stage with White Temple, followed by the Squarshers at 7:15 p.m. and Matt Stell performing at 8 p.m.

On Saturday, more music will begin at 3 p.m. with Chris Tarkington; 4 p.m., Kailey Abe; 7 p.m. the Shotgunbillys; and at 8:30 p.m.; the Kentucky Headhunters.

Taking the stage at 1 p.m. Sunday will be Bethlehem Baptist Church’s women’s praise team, followed at 2:15 by T4:12 and at 3:30 p.m. by Mark Lanier.

“I’m looking forward to the Kentucky Headhunters coming,” Moss said.

He said organizers have been trying to get the word out that the concerts are free.

Other events scheduled include the following:

• Car show: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school. Check-in will be from 9-10 a..m., and judging will begin at 11. Trophies will be awarded. For car-club or group registration, call the chamber at (501) 679-4009.

“The trophies are handmade by Greenbrier High School students,” Brown said.

Brown said the chamber had considered a car show this year to raise money for student scholarships, and she and O’Quinn decided to combine the car show with Brierfest. In the past, the chamber has held a golf tournament or a 5K to raise funds. Although a few people have preregistered, “car-show people usually wait and see what the weather’s going to be like,” she said. “We’re not sure what to expect. We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘We’re going to come if it’s a nice day.’”

• Carnival: The rides will be set up by Miller Spectacular Shows in the ballpark main parking lot, O’Quinn said. “The Millers are bringing a 100-foot drop tower. I’m excited. I love rides.”

She also said the carnival owner told her “he’s bringing something called The Virus that nobody around here’s really seen.”

• Pageant: The 2017 Miss Greenbrier pageant will be at 10 a.m. Saturday for children ages birth to 6; and at 11 a.m. for those ages 7 and older.

• Talent show: Performances will begin at 2 p.m. on the First Service Bank Stage.

• Lawnmower pull: This event will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday on the west side of the field house.

• Vendors: O’Quinn wrote on the website that there will be a “funky, eclectic mix of antiques and crafters.”

• Food: “We’re going to have some really good food vendors,” O’Quinn said. She said the tempting treats will include tacos, shrimp and crayfish, all types of cheeses, kettle corn and more.

More information about the event is available at www.brierfest.com.

Moss said he believes the revamped event will be successful and that it will once again become an annual event in Greenbrier.

“We’re going to try to carry it on,” he said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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