Thousands of Laurel and Hardy fans are expected to crowd the streets of Harlem Saturday for the 25th annual Oliver Hardy festival.
The festival, organized to honor Hardy who was born in the rural town, features all things related to the comedic duo and lots of family fun.
“We’re very excited,” said Stacie Hart, Harlem’s Community Services director and Events Planning coordinator. “We are ready, set and go.”
Hart stepped into the newly created position about two months ago and had a huge task before her – planning the silver anniversary festival that typically draws around 30,000 people to the city. She’s definitely not new to the festival, which she enjoyed from her family’s downtown Harlem home on N. Louisville Street.
“We’ve just gone back to our roots with the parade, with all the bands and all the floats and all of that, and having real artisans,” Hart said.
The parade, featuring lots of floats inspired by Laurel and Hardy movies, civic groups and marching bands, begins at 10 a.m. at the Harlem City Park and runs along Milledgeville Road and N. Louisville Street to the Harlem Middle School.
“I have a little bit of everybody,” Hart said. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Streets in downtown Harlem will be lined with about 200 arts and crafts vendors.
The vendors, she said, are “real arts and crafts vendors. I’m talking everything from potters to glass blowers to embroiderers. You name it, we’re having it.”
Live entertainment includes local musical acts like The Remedy, formerly Steel Cross, and Ray Fulcher of County Line.
Children can play in the Kiddie Area filled with inflatables, provided by the Family Y, for $5 for the entire day.
About 30 food vendors to include three competition barbecue teams will be set up in two food courts.
Working dogs from Fort Gordon will perform demonstrations at the Glenn Phillips Memorial Park on S. Hicks Street.
Hart said she’s very excited to have special guests Jann Carl and Rodney Miller, hosts of Small Town Big Deal on RFD-TV, for the festival. They’ll be filming an episode of the show, which features amazing and inspiring things in small towns.
“They’ll lead our parade and film an episode for their show,” Hart said. “I’m really excited about that.”
As always, the Laurel and Hardy Museum of Harlem will be open and its lead volunteer, Linda Caldwell, expects thousands of visitors during the festival.
“It’s the 25th year and we’ve got people coming in from all over the United States, people coming from all around the world,” Caldwell said. “It’s going to be something.”
A collector of Laurel and Hardy films had a vault of “original 16-mm films to show all day in our movie theater.”
The museum, at 250 N. Louisville St., will also be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.