A new organization will have to host the Poke Sallet Festival next year after the Jackson County American Legion decided to drop the event.
Post Commander Dale Smith said the Post has organized the Gainesboro tradition for six years.
“The main reason that we’re giving it up is that we are all veterans and we have a lot of age on us,” Smith said. “And it takes a lot of help and most of our veterans are quite a bit older.”
Smith said that does not mean the festival will cease to exist. Smith said two Gainesboro business owners have already expressed interest in taking over the event for next year.
“There are a couple of prospects out there,” Smith said. “We talked to one of them yesterday that is very interested in it. We have another couple interested in it. The Poke Sallet is not the American Legion’s to give away. It is the community’s. So what we have come down to is the two couples will see if they can work together on it.”
Smith said he hopes that the new leaders will find a way revamp the festival. The American Legion held the festival for the last time in May. Adjutant Everett Vanhooser said participation has unfortunately dropped over the years.
“People in the area have more and more to do,” Vanhooser said. “40 to 45 years ago, there wasn’t a festival every weekend. That pulls crowds away and now people have roads to visit other areas. So times have changed.”
Vanhooser said the festival has changed hands several times over the years. The American Legion took over after the Drug Coalition. Before that, the rescue squad and a youth leadership program called the Jaycees ran the event.
“It’s been an honor for the American Legion to be apart of it and be associated with it and be a part of the crowd of people we have interacted with,” Vanhooser said. “It’s a tradition, and we feel like we contributed. We hope it carries on, and I believe it will.”