Choccolocco festival promotes history, preservation.
by Eddie Burkhalter
Oct 12, 2013 | 3007 views |  0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alberta Winsett sews a quilt during the Choccolocco Heritage Festival today. Photo by Stephen Gross.
Alberta Winsett sews a quilt during the Choccolocco Heritage Festival today. Photo by Stephen Gross.
CHOCCOLOCCO — Maddy Sailors, 10, and her twin brother, Griffin, crawled out of a military tank on display today at the Quad City Fire Department and Community Center.

It was their first trip to the Choccolocco Creek Heritage Festival, where visitors listen to live bluegrass music, milled around tables of handmade crafts and watched as members of the Choccolocco Heritage Society practice the art of quilting.

“It’s a lot quieter here,” said Maddy, whose family recently moved to White Plains from New Jersey. “I can fall asleep easier here.”

The event has been held by the Heritage Society annually for the last decade, said Georgia Calhoun, the lifelong resident of Choccolocco who founded the organization in 1985.

The purpose of the festival, Calhoun said, is to spread “culture, education and entertainment” in an area rich with history.

Antebellum homes built more than 100 years ago dot the pastoral landscape. The Downing Mill – now a residence – was built in 1839 and served as the areas grist mill.

“We have a lot of history, and we’re trying to preserve it,” Calhoun said.

The waters of Choccolocco Creek and of Caffey Pond hold a special place in the community’s history, Calhoun said.

“That’s where everybody learned to swim, and everybody was baptized,” she said.

The farmers who tended the land in the area decades ago kept the creek clean because they needed the water for their crops, Calhoun explained. Today there are fewer farms in the community and the creek has suffered, she said.

Christy Claes, coordinator for the Choccolocco Creek Watershed Alliance, spent Saturday handing out flyers and talking with festival visitors about the importance of protecting and preserving the Choccolocco Creek watershed.

Claes said the alliance organizes regular cleanups on some areas of the creek, and the group plans to add another in the Choccolocco community in the coming months.

Once set, information on the cleanup will be posted to the organization’s website, Cleas said.

Visit the Choccolocco Creek Watershed Alliance at

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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