Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rick Bragg to dish on Southern foods at Athens Grease Festival

by Holly Hollman, Athens Grease Festival Publicity Chair

It’s not just enough to taste fried Southern foods at a festival with the name “Grease” in it. As Southerners, we have to talk about it, too.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg will discuss the culture of Southern foods and cooking during the second annual Athens Grease Festival on Sept. 28. Bragg authored two best-selling memoirs, “All Over But the Shoutin’” and “Ava’s Man.”

“Southern recipes from our grandmothers and mothers are cherished family heirlooms,” said Festival Chairwoman Betsy Hyman. “How many of us have in our own kitchens as many cook books as other type of books elsewhere in the house? We love to cook and cook well, and having an author like Rick Bragg talk about the importance of cooking to Southerners is as perfect a fit to our festival as batter is on catfish.”

Bragg has compared writing with cooking.

“And writer guys, we don’t get to have writers block,” Bragg wrote. “That’s like a chef sayin’ ‘I don’t feel like cookin’ them taters.’”

Bragg currently is a writing professor at the University of Alabama’s journalism program in its College of Communications and Information Sciences. He also writes a column for “Southern Living.”

Bragg will speak at the Athens State University Center for Lifelong Learning at 5 p.m. A large screen will live stream the presentation for those whose seats are not in the immediate event area. Festival admission is required. Because seating is limited to 200 people, those who plan to attend Bragg’s presentation will have to obtain a free ticket and present it at the door for admission.

These tickets are limited to four per person. The tickets will be available for pickup while they last on Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 24 from 3-6 p.m. and on Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center for Lifelong Learning on Marion Street in downtown Athens. Tickets also will be available as long as supplies last from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, 25, 26 and 27 at City Hall at 1806 Wilkinson Street on the second floor. Tickets will not be held for individuals. Tickets will be distributed first come, first serve.

Seating will begin at 4 p.m. prior to Bragg’s 5 p.m. appearance. His books will be for sale in the Athens Shop at the Center for Lifelong Learning.

For information on Rick Bragg tickets, call the Center for Lifelong Learning at 256-233-8260 for a recording on how to get tickets and to find out when tickets are no longer available.

The Athens Grease Festival is a celebration of all things fried and the Greek origin of the city’s name. It is hosted by the Spirit of Athens and sponsored in part by The News-Courier and Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.

The festival hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Events will be on The Square in downtown Athens. Vendors will sell fried foods and crafts. There will be children’s activities, music and Olympian style contests and events with a Southern twist such as an opening ceremony with the to-be-named Athena-Grease Goddess, frozen turkey toss and Dub’s Burgers Eating Contest.

Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for those ages 3 to 12 and free for those 2 and younger. Wear a toga and get $1 off admission.

To register for the Toga Fun Run or other contests, and for more information, go to

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