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Portal readies for Turpentine Festival
37th annual event set for Saturday
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In this file photo, Mary Crippen, right, enjoys a meal with son Tommy, 2, while her other children Jaileighana, 4, and Jamaurie, 6, explore the turpentine still with Ashley Kline during Portal's 2017 Catface Turpentine Festival. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

A new magic act, several popular local performers and a “build-a-bear” booth are just some of the fun things planned for the 37th annual Catface Country Turpentine Festival coming up Saturday.

Hosted by the Portal Heritage Society, the event recognizes the small northwest Bulloch County town’s rich agricultural heritage with activities surrounding the state’s only original-site operational turpentine still, the E.C. Carter Turpentine Still.

Timothy Cook, Portal Heritage Society president, said a parade begins at 10 a.m., with the festival grounds opening afterward.

“We have plenty of food and craft vendors and kiddie rides for all ages,” he said. “And we will have good old rosin potatoes (baked in turpentine) and turpentine for sale.”

There will be educational exhibits as well.

Visitors will be “viewing and learning the history of the making of turpentine,” he said.  The E.C. Carter Still is “the only one in Georgia on its original working site.”

The Portal historical museum will be open for tours, and a grist mill will be working, he said.

The fun will include live entertainment throughout the day, including a magician who will be making balloon figures. Kids and adults alike are invited to “come by the playhouse for story time,” he said.

The festival will culminate in a street dance with the DILLIGAF country band.

Portal Heritage Society member and festival co-founder Dr. Roger Branch, as well as chief stiller Dale King and veteran forester Doug Chassereau, will join cultural specialist Gaynell Goodman Wright to speak with visitors about the history.

Branch said while in the past it has proven difficult to procure pine gum for making turpentine, this year, the festival hosts have obtained a source.

Cook said food vendors selling barbecue, burgers, frozen drinks, baked goods and more will join arts and crafts vendors, while a line-up of entertainment includes bands from Portal’s elementary, middle and high schools and performers Glen Walden, Allison Chassereau, Addie Smith and Cole Tomlinson.

Also, magician Tim Shumaker, the Heartland Express Cloggers, Play J Snip, School of Rock and Macallin Thomas’ “Unfinished Ministry” will be featured, Cook said.

The street dance begins at 7 p.m., and the night ends at 10:30 p.m.

The Portal Heritage Society reminds visitors that the festival is a family-oriented event. It is named the Catface Turpentine Festival because the slashes made on pine trees during the pine tar collection process resemble cat whiskers.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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