Against the odds: Irmo's Okra Strut lives on

IRMO, SC (WIS) - It almost didn't happen.  At one time organizers even said it was canceled, however, the Okra Strut began it's 37th year Friday.

If you're a big fan of Okra, today's the day you've been looking forward to all year. Friday morning's kick-off breakfast was nothing but smiles, but just a few months ago, the trademark event of Irmo was in danger.

"For a period of a few weeks we had no lease, no place to have the Okra Strut, it was very sad, very disillusioning to the most of us," said Councilwoman Kathy Condom. "We actually called it off to bring it to the attention of the public and the landowners nearby and fortunately we were able to renegotiate a lease."

The festival is a two day event featuring a street dance, parade, arts and crafts, rides and amusements, petting zoo, and lots of festival food.  Attendance for the celebration is estimated at 55,000 annually. "It's been part of the fabric of Irmo for 37 years, so I couldn't imagine what it would be like," said Town Administrator John Hanson.

Organizers know finding a place next year won't be easy because as the festival has grown, so has Irmo. The town is running out of big open areas that can hold thousands of okra-seeking strutters, but Hanson says there is no reason to worry. "I think it's going to be fine. We're just going to have to roll up our sleeves and we're going to get it done."

There is an Okra Strut committee already working to find a place to have the festival next year.

The festival is located near St. Andrews Blvd. and Lake Murray Blvd. The Okra Strut parade takes place Saturday at 9:00 a.m. on St. Andrews Blvd. between Harbison Blvd. and Lake Murray Blvd.

Several roads in the Irmo area will be closed because of the festival and parade: Thames Valley road between Friarsgate Blvd. and St. Andrews Road is closed until Saturday at 6:00 p.m.  St. Andrews road is closed between Thames Valley and Shoppers Walk until Saturday at 6:00 p.m.  St. Andrews road will be closed from Crossroads Middle School to Thames Valley Saturday from 8:50 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for the Okra Strut parade.

Related story:

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved.