By REID TUCKER
Though numerous other events were taking place in DeFuniak Springs on Saturday, May 5, the 6th Annual May Day Festival attracted big crowds throughout the day and into the evening.
This year’s event began before 6 a.m. as contestants from 16 teams arrived from around the state in anticipation of the annual barbecue cook-off and it didn’t wrap up until the last pinfall brought an end to a full card of New Heights Wrestling matches. Crestview’s Poverty Hill Smokers took the Grand Championship title in the barbecue tournament thanks to top-three finishes in all three categories while DeFuniak Springs’ own Paul Jordane retained his New Heights Wrestling championship in the main event bout of the night. Elected officials and other dignitaries including Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson and representatives of the Walton County School Board and Board of County Commissioners were also on hand at the festival.
Other popular activities introduced at this year’s festival were a balloon animal-making stilt-walker, a softball game open to competitors of all ages, various musical acts and plenty of food vendors. This year’s May Day Festival also marked a change in venue, as the event was hosted at the Wee Care Park in DeFuniak Springs for the first time since its inception six years ago.
The event, which, along with others like it around the state, commemorates Emancipation Day, the first time the Emancipation Proclamation was publicly read in Florida on May 20, 1865. May Day Festival Chairman Marcus Baldwin was pleased with the turnout and conveyed his thanks to the community for its continued support of the festival.
“It’s for the community,” Baldwin said. “I want to bring everyone together, to build positive things, create family events, and make our area a better place. My focus for the May Day Festival is not like others in the area. I want the focus to be on God, community and one another.” For more information about this and past festivals, check out the Annual May Day Festival Committee, Inc.’s Facebook page or visit the group’s website at http://annualmaydayfestival.com.