McKenzie residents celebrate Southern food & culture at annual festival

McKENZIE, Tenn. — Enjoying fried foods is just like Friday night high school football in West Tennessee — a Southern tradition.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.10.48 PM“What’s more Southern than fried food?” chairman of the McKenzie Act 2 committee Ryan Griffin said.

With Bethel University students back in town, the fourth annual Southern Fried and Sweet Tea Festival kicked off Friday in downtown McKenzie.

“To welcome the students and their parents and welcome them with a huge dose of Southern hospitality,” McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland said.

The decadent snacks include chicken, pork skins and even honey buns, all fried to perfection.

“I love fried food,” McKenzie resident Tonya Russell said.

“It’s wonderful, but you have to eat it in moderation,” McKenzie resident Bonnie Martin said. “Just celebrate every once in a while with your sweet tea festival.”

“They can expect Southern hospitality, good sweet tea from Milo’s, Lee’s Chicken, some pork rinds,” Griffin said. “Anything fried, we probably have.”

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Although most festival goers focused on enjoying their fried treats, this festival is a party with a purpose — collecting donations to restore the historic Park Theater downtown that reopened just six months ago.

“I’m glad that the theater opened back up,” Russell said. “I use to come here when I was a kid, so I’m glad they opened back up.”

“So all that money goes into keeping this historic landmark viable and a great treasure for the city of McKenzie and surrounding communities,” Mayor Holland said.

Day two of the festival is Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. So far, $300,000 from the community and grants have been put into the historic Park Theater.

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