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Star-spangled success
Controversial changes to beloved Viola event praised by attendees
Viola Valley - Farra Griffith.jpg
Sheila Fann and Lisa Hobbs photos As temperatures approached 100 degrees, Farrah Griffith did not mind a line to beat the heat with some cold lemonade during Saturday’s Viola Valley Stars and Stripes Festival. - photo by Sheila Fann

The Viola Valley Stars and Stripes Festival is being hailed as a success, despite initial community discontent for some of the changes to what has traditionally been known as Viola Valley Homecoming.

“It was absolutely more spectacular than I ever thought it would be,” said Trent Prater, president of Viola Valley Homecoming Association. “I’ve received more positive comments than any other changes we’ve made to the event in the past.”

When the changes were announced regarding the new date and new lineup of activities, happiness was not the general emotion.

“Initially, I did receive a lot of negative comments about the changes we made,” said Prater. “During and after, the comments have been resoundingly positive. I had one gentleman say, ‘I was ticked at y’all when you changed the homecoming. It’s always been in August. There’s always been a parade. It’s always been that way. Forgive me for everything I said bad about it.’ That was nice to hear.” 

Other positive comments centered on the fireworks display, a show that an estimated 1,000 people turned out to watch.

“People really enjoyed the fireworks display,” said Prater. “It was set to music. I heard a lot of good comments about it. A boy called me yesterday saying that he’s watched fireworks displays in Murfreesboro and Nashville and some places out of state and ours was better. He couldn’t believe a small community would offer such a large fireworks display.”  

The association blew up $6,400. Fireworks cost $3,600 and insurance $2,800. 

Prater said association members will discuss what worked and what didn’t regarding the changes. 

“We had a dead period from 12 to 3 p.m., because it was too hot,” said Prater. “Maybe begin the festivities later in the day. Not do as many bands. I think there will be a parade next year. Maybe find some sponsors to help with the cost for the fireworks display, if we continue it. We’ll kick ideas around and see what comes of it.”

Offered were five live musical acts with rock, country, bluegrass and Southern rock, as well as the On the Road Again Show, a Viola tradition.