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Portal hosts 36th Turpentine Festival
Celebration set for Saturday
In this file photo from 2016, Georgia Williams, background right, talks turpentine with Sam Varn during Portal's annual Catface Turpentine Festival. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

The local country and Southern/classic rock band Southpaw will wrap up the 36th Annual Portal Catface Country Turpentine Festival Saturday, Oct. 7 with a street dance.

The day begins with a parade through Portal at 10 a.m., and afterwards the festival site opens to offer live entertainment all day, food, kiddie rides and plenty of vendors, said Portal Heritage Society President Timothy Cook.

The annual fund raiser is hosted by the Portal Heritage Society, a non-profit historical group, and celebrates the small northwest Bulloch County’s rich agricultural heritage, which is highlighted by the strong turpentine industry that once occupied the town.

There will be “…many arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, kiddie rides, an alpaca farm exhibit and live entertainment,” he said. “There is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Entertainment starts at 11:00 with a welcome from the Portal Heritage Society.  Students from Portal Elementary School will perform, followed by The Portal Middle/High School Pride Marching Band. “All throughout the day, various local talent will be performing live music, singing, cloggers and more,” he said.

The street dance, one of the festival’s highlights, starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m.

   Centering the activity is the historic E.C. Carter Turpentine Still and the distilling of turpentine that is done on site, Cook said. “The E.C. Carter Turpentine Still was originally operated from the early 1930’s to the 1960’s, and was a major part of daily life in rural Portal.

 “The E.C. Carter Turpentine Still is the only functional still remaining on its original property in the United States today.  That’s why it is so important to host this festival each year so that Portal can continue its rich turpentine history by distilling turpentine and sharing its heritage of turpentine with younger generations and visitors from all around,” he said. 

The Portal Heritage Museum will be open for visitors “to step back in time to see how the turpentine process occurs, from the beginning with tapping pine trees for pine gum, down to the distillation process,” he said. “ The Carter Still will be fired up and demonstrations to showcase how the still operates will be presented.”

The Portal Heritage Society will also be selling turpentine.  A local favorite, rosin baked potatoes, will be cooked and sold all throughout the day, which is also part of the turpentine heritage, he said.

Entertainment is as follows:

·      11:15a.m. -  Portal Elementary School

·      11:35 a.m. -Portal Middle High Band

·      12 noon -Heartland Express cloggers

·      12:30 p.m. -Gene Walden

·      1 p.m. - Addie Smith

·      1:30 p.m. -Allison Chassereau

·      2 p.m. - Cole Tomlinson

·      2:30 p.m. -Joel Baker

·      3 p.m.-Dillion Lanier / Myles Willis

·      3:30 p.m. -Matt Dylon Thompson

·      4 p.m. -Brianna Aldrich

·      4:15 p.m. - School of Rock

·      7 p.m.- The Southpaw Band

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