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Portal set for fun and nod to history
Town set for Turpentine Festival
Turpentine still
The historic E.C. Carter Turpentine Still in Portal recently underwent a renovation. In this photo, workers are positioning the worm copper tubing used in distilling turpentine. Shown, from left, are Portal area volunteer Bobby Newton; David King, from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Agrirama Division; and Doug Chassereau, Chief Ranger of the Bulloch County/Georgia Forestry Commission. - photo by FILE PHOTO

A parade through downtown Portal Saturday will begin a weekend filled with fun and history as the 30th Annual Catface Country Turpentine Festival gets underway.
The festival, held Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 2, will be an opportunity for visitors to view renovations to the historic site. Two days of vendors, turpentine distilling, children’s activities and entertainment is expected to draw a crowd with visitors from all over the state, said Portal Heritage Society President Jan Haggins.
The historic E.C. Carter Turpentine Still, located in the center of the small North Bulloch County town, is the hub of activity, and was recently renovated, thanks to a grant, said Carol Waters, another heritage society member.
Last summer, the Plum Creek Foundation awarded $5,537 in “historic preservation funds” to the Portal Heritage Society to assist in the still’s restoration.
Where Portal and surrounding areas once were home to more than a dozen such stills, the E.C. Carter still is only remaining operational turpentine still located on its original site in the State of Georgia.
 “Preservation of the history behind this tradition allows for a unique opportunity to celebrate an aspect of our cultural heritage,” Haggins said. “This generous grant offered by the Plum Creek Foundation …helped us to carry out the necessary repairs and restoration work needed to make the still fully operational again. We are so grateful for Plum Creek’s interest and support for community projects that promote conservation, preservation, and stewardship.”
The site is ready for the festival, and for two days, the usually sleepy town is sure to be hopping with visitors enjoying the event.
Waters said visitors will enjoy a variety of entertainment, including children’s carnival rides, about 40 to 50 vendors, food including rosin-baked potatoes, barbecue and soul food, and a street dance Saturday night.
Tee shirts commemorating the festival will be offered for sale, with “a variety of designs,” she said. Turpentine will also be sold – $7 for the smaller bottles and $10 for larger bottles, which are new this year due to customer demand, she said.
Haggins said the Bulloch County Historical Society plans to dedicate a sign to “old Portal” after the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and meander through Portal along Main Street ( U.S. 80) and back down Mullet Roe, a side street that runs parallel to the main thoroughfare.
There will also be a dedication ceremony for the renovated still and tank. Stacy Freeman will offer grits and cornmeal for sale, and the Burger Barn will be open for hamburgers, hot dogs and other treats, she said. Other food vendors will offer different fare.
For more information on the Portal Heritage Society or to contact the group, access Internet website or send email to

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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