More than 6,000 people swelled the streets of Bostwick Saturday during the annual Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival. The festival, the 30th held by the city, raises funds for the continued restoration of the early 1900s Susie Agnes Hotel and provides funds for various beautification projects including Christmas trees and lights for the town.

According to Bostwick City Council member and festival organizer Angie Howard, 1,521 cars were parked at the Ruark Sod Farm on the west end of the town limits. Howard said 125 tractors lined up and participated in the festival’s annual parade along with Claudine Peppers, this year’s Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival queen.

Howard said there’s year’s attendance was slightly lower than the 2019 Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival. The 2020 festival was cancelled because of concerns with COVID-19. Attendance, however, still marks this as the largest annual festival in Morgan County and Howard said this year she spoke with several persons who had never attended the festival. “I saw a lot of new faces this year.”

The festival also sold out of a special commemorative T-shirt designed with a cotton field painted by the late Morgan County folk artist Eugene Swain. Swain had presented the painting for the 2020 T-shirt. This year, following Swain’s tragic death in a car crash on Bostwick Highway, the committee decided to create the commemorative shirt and offer it for sale. Howard said the Cotton Gin Festival sold out of the shirts and presented the Swain family with a $4,000 donation based on the sales.

Despite the massive crowds, Howard said Crowe’s BBQ food truck sold out in about an hour, traffic solutions provided by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office kept crowds moving. “It was very organized,” she said. “We had a lot of comments on how the barricade system was effective and the re-routing of traffic around town went smoothly.”

Long sleeved Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival T-shirts are still available, she said. To purchase a shirt, contact Bostwick City Hall.

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