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Time for Turpentine Festival
Annual celebration is Saturday, Sunday in Portal
Turpentine for Web
Bottles of turpentine are shown for sale at the 2009 Catface Turpentine Festival. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

      The Portal Heritage Society will be cooking turpentine this year at the 29th Annual Catface Country Turpentine Festival, thanks to a group who helped secure pine tar, an increasingly rare commodity that is essential in distilling turpentine.  The tar was procured from a location in Mexico, said Portal Heritage Society member Jerry Lanigan.
      The festival, held in the quaint Northwestern Bulloch County town of Portal, will be held Saturday ans Sunday. It is hosted by the Portal Heritage Society.
      The two-day festival known for its crafts vendors and historic E. C. Carter still, one of only three remaining turpentine stills in the state, kicks off Saturday with a parade through town, said parade chairman Edie Stanley.
       The parade will have the requisite dignitaries, local school marching bands, floats, antique cars and tractors, and horseback riders, she said. Charter members of the Portal Heritage Society will serve as parade marshals. The parade, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, will begin north of Portal Middle/High School, travel east down the town's main streets, then back to the starting point on Mullet Roe, a street that runs parallel to the main street ( U.S. 80 West).
       The festival site, at the E.C. Carter Still in the center of town, opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, with food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, children's attractions and more. The Portal Heritage Society Burger Barn will offer hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, Coca Cola products and more, while other vendors have funnel cakes, baked goods, rosin-baked potatoes ( a festival treat), frozen fruit ices and more, she said.
      The festival grounds close at dark on Saturday after a street dance, and other entertainment (gospel. country, and other music as well as dance groups) will be provided throughout the day both days. The grounds open at 10 a.m. Sunday and closes at 5 p.m.
      The historic still was a lively operation in its day as turpentine proved a lucrative business for the small south Georgia town. It operated from the 1930's to the 1960's, according to the Portal Heritage Society website, and was restored in 1982 by the Portal Heritage Society. The other two operating stills in Georgia are in Walthourville and Tifton.
      For more information on the parade, contact Stanley at (912) 865-4519. For information about vendors or the festival contact Jerry Lanigan at (912) 865-2810.

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