By MATT CRANE
The stew is simmering, the cakes are baking and, once again, Starkville and Oktibbeha County residents anxiously await the arrival of the annual Oktoc Country Store.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Oktoc Community Clubhouse, the Oktoc Garden Club will sponsor the 42nd annual Oktoc Country Store.
Garden Club President Hellen Polk said activities and sales will last until 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Our bake sale, produce sale and anything from our other vendors will be available for purchase at 10 a.m.,” she said. “The $1 quilt raffle tickets will available as well as our 2008 cookbooks for $10.”
Polk, who moved to Oktoc 14 years ago, said she is excited about this year’s event and the sense of growing community that it brings.
“It’s always been a good experience for individuals in the community who have chosen to come out for the day,” she said. “It’s great for us to continue the tradition that others have started for us.”
Polk said the Garden Club, founded in 1923, will use proceeds from the Country Store to give back to the Oktoc community.
“The Community Clubhouse will receive a portion of the proceeds for upkeep,” she said. “The remainder will be divided between the District Five Volunteer Fire Department and other community organizations.”
Polk said working with the men and women of Oktoc has been an enjoyable experience in preparation for Saturday’s event.
“These ladies are just such a great, sweet group of people, and we have learned a lot from each other over the years,” she said. “The men of the community club help out so much and bring such a unique perspective to the community.”
Polk said one of the Country Store’s biggest draws and longest traditions is the preparation and selling of Oktoc’s famous Brunswick Stew.
“People will have the opportunity to buy stew by the bowl or in bulk — $7 for a quart, $13 for a half gallon and $25 for a gallon,” she said. “While we have some containers of our own, we encourage those buying stew in bulk to provide their own containers from home.”
Another long-standing tradition, Polk said, is the creation and raffle of the specially designed Oktoc Country Store quilt.
“The quilt this year was made by Judy Self Buster which is a king-sized quilt made from the scraps of old cloths,” she said. “It’s absolutely gorgeous and one of the best she’s ever done.”
Polk said the drawing for the quilt raffle will begin at 1 p.m. and the winner does not have to be present.
Along with face painting activities for children and musical entertainment provided by Vic and Jane Zitta, Polk said visitors to the Oktoc Country Store will have the opportunity to purchase snacks and a plate lunch.
“Stew plate lunches are available for $5 for adults and $2 for seniors which includes stew, crackers and tea,” she said. “Purchasing stew in bulk will be ready at 11 a.m.”
Polk said she is looking forward to catching up with friends and community members, and hopes residents throughout the county will come and experience the magic of the Oktoc community.
“In addition to the beauty of the area, the countryside and a great environment to raise a family, the people in this community make it such a wonderful place to live,” she said. “The weather looks very promising for a fun-filled day in the country with opportunities to see old friends, get some wonderful food and fill your freezer for the holidays.”