New Irmo park may not be ready for fall okra festival

tflach@thestate.comJuly 18, 2013 

FILE CUTLINE: The Irmo High School A.F.J.R.O.T.C. kicks off this years Okra Strut parade. Hundreds turned out Saturday for the annual Orka Strut sponsored by The Lake Murray-Irmo Woman's Club.

FILE PHOTOGRAPH — The State Buy Photo

— The new park in Irmo that will be home of the Okra Strut probably won’t be ready for the festival this fall, thanks to rain holding up completion.

Town leaders are looking at moving the nationally known gathering one more time in the area around Town Hall and a smaller park nearby.

“We’re comfortable we can pull it off there,” festival commission chairman Kirk Luther said.

The change is under consideration after park developers warned that landscape in the new park probably won’t be rooted sufficiently to withstand festival crowds.

“If we go forward at the new park, it’ll look ready but it won’t be,” town administrator Bob Brown said. “Having the festival there would tear the heck out of it.”

The goal of having the festival in the new park this fall was a rush even before the rain delay, Mayor Hardy King said.

“Moving it back might be a blessing in disguise,” he said.

The festival attracts crowds estimated at up to 50,000 people. Its 40th edition is set for Sept. 27-28.

Town leaders settled on the new park after protests about traffic and noise forced the festival to move frequently as available sites shrank.

The 14-acre park on Eastview Drive is unnamed.

Some Town Council members favor calling it Memorial Park, but no decision has been made.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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