Vendors spoon out barbecue sauce onto polish sausages along with grilled onions at one of many stations along Water Avenue on Saturday.  -- Ashley Johnson
Vendors spoon out barbecue sauce onto polish sausages along with grilled onions at one of many stations along Water Avenue on Saturday. -- Ashley Johnson

Cold weather impacts crowds, vendor results

Published 7:09pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

In addition to the celebration of the civil rights and voting rights victories in Selma and Alabama at the 2013 Bridge Crossing Jubilee, there was much exploration and shopping that can be done up and down Water Avenue.

During Saturday’s festival events, gospel groups sang praises while crowds mingled through vendor tables of perfume, art, handbags, collectables and the most popular vendor item — food.

Apart from the smoked and fried turkey legs, which seemed to be the most popular item to have for sale, there was alligator tail on a stick, barbecue, burgers and sausages.

“This is my first time attending and even though it is cold today, it has been so uplifting and warming in my heart because it really means a whole lot to the struggle that our people went through to get to where we are today,” Bonita Owensby said in front of her food truck, Smokin’ O’s on Saturday. Her family-owned barbecue business from Coosada sells everything slow smoked off of a wood pit, like St. Louis styled ribs, smoked turkey legs, Boston butts and smoked chicken.

“And all of our side items like potato salad, cole sale and baked beans — those are made from scratch,” she said.

She explained that her family trip to Jubilee for the first time was, “long over due. I am 50-years-old and this is my first time coming but it wont be my last time.”

But veteran vendor of Jubilee Butch McCollum, from North Carolina, said he noticed slower sales this year than normal — despite the fact he was selling hot coffee on a cold day and President Barack Obama buttons.

“Things are slow with the weather and also the economy,” McCollum said. “This is my tenth year and [for sales] this is the worst I have seen.”

Other vendors sold specialty items, like Nema Saho originally from Gambia, who travels to Africa each year to get merchandise and sells it at Jubilee. He gathers hats, beaded necklaces and statues that all showcase the arts of the African culture. A long-time attendee of the event, Saho has been coming for the last 18 years, he said.

“I travel to different parts of Africa to get the [merchandise] and I go to Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Mali and just all over West Africa,” Saho said. “I love [as a U.S. citizen] the historical part of Jubilee and walk across the bridge with my wife each year.”

Jubilee Festival events will continue through Sunday with a speech by Vice President Joe Biden at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, followed by the bridge crossing reenactment. The vendors Sunday will be located on Church and Lauderdale Streets.

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