Each year, about 500 people are wearing Another Bloomin’ Festival t-shirts in Metter on the day before Easter. But how many people have been wearing Bloomin’ Festival t-shirts every year on Festival day? One that has been is Linda Kingery, an employee of Olliff & Fordham, CPA’s.
“Each year, Dale (Fordham) and Danny (Olliff) buy Festival t-shirts for everyone in the office,” explains Linda. Ironically, because of the timing of the Festival most years, the employees of Olliff and Fordham often are unable to attend the Festival because it is tax season. Even so, Linda puts on her Festival t-shirt before heading into the office to put in the extra time required by the government’s April 15th deadline.
She laughs that wearing her Festival t-shirt is a way she can commemorate Festival Day. The 2023 Another Bloomin’ Festival is planned for Saturday, April 8, in Metter’s downtown -- again, right before the tax deadline.
Another way that Linda has commemorated Another Bloomin’ Festival is by having a quilt made from the past 22 years of Festival t-shirts. She recalls, “When the Festival first started, they didn’t sell t-shirts.” The oldest t-shirt included on Linda’s quilt is from about 1994.
Linda says she just kept the shirts over the years, wearing most of them numerous times before retiring them to storage, “just because.” She admits that some received more wear than others because the bookkeeper prefers the shirts that are more colorful than others.
“I like several of them,” she says. Every shirt has been worn at least one time, according to Linda.
When word got out that Linda had so many Bloomin’ Festival t-shirts, people started making suggestions as to what she should do with them. She found out that Ellen Nail knew how to make T-shirt quilts, so she gathered up her shirt collection and met with Ellen to discuss a design.
“Each square of the quilt has the large picture design that is usually on the back of the t-shirt as well as the front left ‘pocket’ design,” explains Linda. She says the quilt is beautiful, and she praises the work that Ellen did in putting the quilt together.
Now that those people with suggestions of what to do with the shirts see the finished product, many of them continue to have suggestions.
“Several people have asked that I leave the quilt to them in my will,” she laughs. She doesn’t have plans for what will happen with the quilt when she passes, but a good suggestion has been to donate it to the Candler County Museum.
When asked if she will be wearing a Festival t-shirt on April 8, 2023, the day of the 30th Another Bloomin’ Festival, she says, “Probably.” Her employers purchase the shirts for their staff because the sale of the shirts supports educational grants for the Candler County Schools and David Emanuel Academy. “It’s a good cause,” she adds.
The cause allows teachers to apply for grants to purchase specific classroom supplies and/or experimental materials for classroom use. The shirts are a joint project of the Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce and Metter Graphics. Together the design staff of Metter Graphics and the leadership of the Chamber create the image to be on each year’s shirt. Metter Graphics does the printing, and the Chamber is in charge of the sales.
Festival t-shirt forms are distributed to all of the schools and are printed in the Metter Advertiser for the week’s preceding the Festival date. Shirts are delivered to the students who ordered them at school, and other orders can be picked up prior to Festival day at Pineland Bank. They can also be picked up at the t-shirt booth on the day of the Festival. A limited number of shirts are available for purchase on Festival day until they are all gone.
The sale of Another Bloomin’ Festival t-shirts through the years have funded over $7000 in educational grants that go directly to teachers for student growth. The grant application process, the determination of grant recipients, and allocation of funds are handled by the Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce.
T-shirts for the 2023 Another Bloomin’ Festival feature a diagram of the festival layout. Shirts are available in youth and adult sizes beginning at $25 per shirt. XXL and XXXL shirts are $28 each.
The deadline for pre-orders is March 24, 2023. For more information, contact the Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce or Metter Graphics. Festival t-shirt order forms can also be downloaded from Metter Advertiser’s e-newsletter, Good Morning, Metter!, each weekday now through March 24.
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