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Sun shines on festival once again in Glennville
Tattnall Evans Service Center float - Alice in Wonderland
Tattnall Evans Service Center float - Alice in Wonderland - photo by Paul Evans

Sunshine and a high of 83 blessed a grand day in Glennville for the 48th Glennville Sweet Onion Festival on Saturday, May 11, 2024. The downtown Barnard Street family-oriented event stretched from

Tillman Street to Hwy. 301, with children's activities behind the food booths that were next to the Glennwanis Hotel. Also, new booth spaces were added between Gross and Caswell Streets behind the Stage at Barnard area.

Although Glennville was drenched with a refreshing rain Thursday and until after 12 noon on Friday, the day was gorgeous for the festival on Saturday. The festive day began with the one-mile run, and

37-year-old Richard Andrews of Nashville, Tennessee, won that overall race with a time of 5:32.2, and he followed that with winning the 5K race with his time of 17:30.3. The top female winner in both races was Emily Fountain, age 32, with her time of 5:59.8 in the one-mile and 19:32.6 in the 5K race; she also placed fourth overall in both races.


Approximately 90 entries were in the 10 a.m. parade, with Anchor Pointe Church member Paula Held chairing the parade. Parade Marshal was Dr. Troy Rahn, who was driven in a red convertible by Camy Bland, one of his employees at his former dental practice of which he was the town's dentist for 53 years.

The Shriner units are always a big hit with the crowds, including Tattnall's own Shrine unit, who have excelled year after year in fundraising for the Shriners' Children's Hospitals. The spectators missed the military band this year, due to their deployment, but the Georgia Southern Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets marched in the parade. The Tattnall County High School Sound of Pride Marching Band also performed in the parade and presented the national anthem at the 12 noon program. The City of Glennville float featured Jena Hales, 2024 Miss Georgia Sweet Onion, and Hadden Waters, Teen Miss Georgia Sweet Onion, as well as younger "onion royalty."

Children and adults flocked to the parade route as dozens of candidates were in the parade, many with multiple entries, and the amount of candy distributed was tremendous. Several also had vendor spaces in the festival, too.

The parade followed its usual route from South Tattnall Middle School down Barnard Street and then turned left at the Hwy. 301 traffic light to the corner of Banks Street and Hwy. 301 S. where the parade ended.

12-noon program

The 12-noon program, with Festival Co-Chair Wayne Dasher as emcee, was held at the Stage at Barnard, with coordination of the program by Anita Dasher. This is the fourth year the festival has been held on downtown Barnard Street from Hwy. 301 to Tillman Street. Vendor booth spaces lined the downtown parking spaces, with additional spaces in the parking lot behind the Stage at Barnard area, to accommodate over 100 vendors.

Pastor Brandon Newell of First Baptist Church of Glennville gave the invocation, and Mayor Bernie Weaver welcomed the crowd. Glennville City Manager Stan Dansby, also a veteran, led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Anita Dasher recognized the onion royalty queens.

Jena Hales, 2024 Miss Georgia Sweet Onion, introduced Dr. Troy Rahn, the keynote speaker for the program.

Rahn began by thanking the Glennville community for the support of his dental practice over the past five decades and their 54 years in Glennville. Formerly of Screven County, Rahn was glad to be able to have his practice in an area near his hometown. He credited Charlie Rowland, then mayor of Glennville, for recruiting him. Rahn opened his dental practice on September 15, 1970. He mentioned the fluoridation that was brought to the community, which was beneficial to the citizens.

"We were also able to receive a grant that allowed us to purchase the TKF Farm for the Glennville Recreation Park, and even though funding was a challenge, we were able to use the tax revenue from the sale of beer and wine for the recreation program in its early years," he said.

He commended the first recreation director, William Wren, who was later followed by Clyde Davis for many years. Rahn added that the City Council did not micromanage the Recreation Commission Directors during his 25 years as a Director, and credited this with much of the success of the Glennville recreation program.

Rahn alluded to his longtime membership and commitment to the Glennville Rotary Club, of which he is a charter member, and lauded the late Jimmy Dubberly and Lee Woodcock for their early leadership in the club. He added that the club has contributed over a quarter million dollars in investments in the community since the club's inception in 1984. Rahn chaired the first campaign for the Glennville club for the eradication of polio worldwide, which has meant much to the saving of lives from this crippling disease. The Rotary Club, he said, was dedicated to many clean water projects and education initiatives locally and worldwide.

On the business side, Rahn was among those who formed South Georgia Bank and has continued to serve on its Board of Directors.

In closing, he offered the wise advice, " Love God, love your country, love your family, love your neighbor, and love your mother," referring to Mother's Day the following day.

Will J. Sheffield, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Glennville Bank/GB Bank Group, announced this year's Largest Onion Contest winners as follows: 1st place, Alissa Blocker, 10 years old, with a 20.5" circumference Vidalia sweet onion; 2nd place, Hattie Blocker, three years old, with a 20-3/8" onion; 3rd place, little Jake Durrence, two and a half years old, with a 19-9/16" onion; and 4th place, Jacob and Noah Kennedy, with a 18-13/16" onion. He presented checks to the winners for their entries.

Glennville Sweet Onion Festival Scholarship winners

Glennville Sweet Onion Festival Committee member Anita Dasher presented the two $500 Onion Festival Scholarships to Tattnall County High School (TCHS) graduating senior Eben Banks, the son of Joe and Valorie Banks, and to Pinewood Christian Academy (PCA) senior Ty Swindell, the son of Ty and Angela Swindell.


Entertainment followed the brief 12 noon program, which began with several groups of dancers from the Studio South Dance Academy. Next, talented vocalist and Miss Tifton, Emma Waters, sang several selections. She was followed by the TCHS Sound of Pride band, under the direction of Dylan Lynch, with their performances including the theme from “New York,” “Marche Diabolique,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Others who performed were talented Studio South Dance Academy dancer and instructor Jena Hales and vocalists Phillip and Carole Shepherd, who sang several popular Broadway theme songs. Phillip is the Minister of Music and Senior Adults at First Baptist Church in Glennville.

The toe-tapping, energetic State Prison Cloggers entertained the crowd, much to the delight of the spectators gathered for the event. Also, country singer Tavontae King was another crowd pleaser. The entertainment ended with gospel singer Betty Martin lifting up everyone with Christian music favorites.

Other events

Other related festival activities included several bounce inflatables, with Chamber directors and volunteers selling wrist bands for $12 each as a fundraiser for the Chamber; face painting; reverse bungee jump; and the newest addition, a mechanical bull. Seating for eating was placed at the covered open building behind the food booth vendors.

A trailer filled with Vidalia sweet onions was manned during the day by Glennville Lions Club members Lynda Goodell and Laurie Bergeron, who reported sales of onions totaling $1600. These onions were donated by Bland Farms, and the proceeds will be given to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

A dance, chaired by Terry Waters, was held at the Stage at Barnard from 9 p.m. until midnight, with beach and soul music by the Second Chance Band of Jesup for this free concert.

In the drawing sponsoed by the Friends of the Glennwanis Hotel for the beautiful onion-motif stepping stone , Tyler Waters of Glennville was the winner.

In the drawing for the $200 value UGA basket donated by JoNell Herrin in memory of her late husband and sons, Lisa Smith is the winner. An amount of $1000 was raised from this raffle, which was presented to the Glennville Fire Department.

The 2024 Glennville Sweet Onion Festival was sponsored by the following: Title Sponsor ($2500)-Optim Medical Center-Tattnall; Platinum Sponsors ($1000)-J Durrence Family Farms, LLC; OSO Sweet Onions; Georgia Crop Insurance Services, LLC; Blocker's Onions; Brannen Family Funeral Services; Glennville Bank/GB Bank Group; and Georgia Power. Gold Sponsors ($500)-Law office of Hugh J. McCullough and Cody's Land & Forestry; Wayne Durrence Farms; New York Life-Agent Charlton Rogers; Tattnall Insurance; and G & R Farms. Silver Sponsors ($350)-Georgia Farm Bureau; The Farmhouse Restaurant & Catering; The Supply Company; Glennville Funeral Home; Ray Farms; Bland Farms; Terrell's Heating & Air; Claxton Poultry; and City of Glennville. Friends Sponsors ($250); State Farm-Agent Caughey Hearn; H&R Block; and Tattnall Trio.