“One for the History Books”

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April 26—Perfect weather (and perhaps a bit of pent-up desire to get outside) conspired over the weekend to draw throngs of guests to the grounds of St. Bernard’s Monastery for the annual Bloomin’ Festival of this year, marking what coordinator Joyce Nix calls one of the most successful iterations of the event in its nearly four-decade history.

“It was one of the most amazing weekends we’ve ever had,” a tired but optimistic Nix said on Monday. “It was definitely one of the history books. We just had fantastic weather both days, and that really brings people out.”

No official attendance numbers were available on Monday, just a day after the weekend event ended. But this year’s festival drew large crowds, at times slowing eastbound traffic along US Highway 278 to a near standstill, with busiest times finding vehicles at a bumper ramp against bumper to Main Avenue in Cullman – a distance of nearly three miles from the St. Bernard campus.

“We haven’t had a chance to recap the event yet, so I don’t know how many people came out at this point, but it was a crowd,” Nix said.

“Our performers were thrilled with the crowd, of course, but they were also thrilled with our community. Cullman did his best for the visitors this weekend, and everyone involved – from our sponsors to our students and parent volunteers, to local people who have just come out and enjoyed the festival – they have all been tremendously supportive of our event. We couldn’t be happier with how it all went – or more grateful to the community.

Organizers are already looking at the October schedule, hoping the momentum from this year’s huge Bloomin’ Festival turnout will carry over to Bernard Blues & BBQ, St. Bernard’s other big annual fundraising festival. PrepSchool. “I already have people signing up for Blues & BBQ and for next year’s Bloomin’ Festival; vendors who liked how things went over the weekend and want to go from forward and get on board,” Nix said.

Much of the appeal, she added, comes from each festival’s focus on curating its range of arts and crafts vendors. “When you watch a man sit down and make a broom out of the corn straw he has grown himself, or see our own local blacksmith, Allan Kress, hammering away some of his work – it’s remarkably appealing to people. It’s something unique that you can’t find in a retail store or online, and I think that extends a really strong appeal.”

The bespoke weather, of course, certainly helps too. “Oh, there’s no doubt about it,” laughed Nix. “The weather makes all the difference. But none of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of our community.”

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.

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