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Turpentine Festival set for Saturday in Portal
In this Statesboro Herald file photo form the 2019 festival, Damien Frison reminisces about all the uses for turpentine taught by his grandmother. After COVID forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 festivals, the annual celebration of Portal's histo
In this Statesboro Herald file photo from the 2019 festival, Damien Frison reminisces about all the uses for turpentine taught by his grandmother. After COVID forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 festivals, the annual celebration of Portal's history and heritage as a turpentine-producing community returns on Saturday.

The Catface Country Turpentine Festival in Portal is back. 

It will shake the shackles of COVID-19, which forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events, to the sound of drums with a downtown parade beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Jerry Lanigan, long-time director of the festival, reports that visitors can look forward to many favorite features, such as bottled turpentine, rosin-baked potatoes, food vendors and entertainment. 

This year the Bulloch County Fire Department will present an educational unit focusing on fire prevention and response. The celebration will close with a street dance at 7 p.m.

As usual, the focus of the event will be turpentine itself, through artifacts used in turpentining in a small museum in the spirits house. A team of knowledgeable volunteers will present informal lectures and answer questions about turpentining in the forest and in the distillation process. 

David King, turpentine expert at the Agrirama in Tifton who has run the stills there and in Portal for many years, will be on hand. 

He will be joined by Brent Tharp, director of the Georgia Southern Museum, which now features a turpentine exhibit in its renovated facility. 

Dr. Roger Branch, one of the “founding fathers” of the event and leader of the educational program, will resume his role in the spirits house.

There is no admission charge to the celebration.

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