Thorsby’s Swedish Festival presented grant by Sen. Ward

Published 4:51 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) presents a grant to Thorsby Mayor Jean Nelson, center, and Swedish Fest President and Chairperson Laura Liveoak.

Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) presents a grant to Thorsby Mayor Jean Nelson, center, and Swedish Fest President and Chairperson Laura Liveoak.

Thorsby’s annual Swedish Fest got a boost in the form of a monetary grant on Wednesday.

The $1,500 grant was presented at Thorsby Town Hall by state Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster).

The event, which started in 1988, serves to honor the town’s Scandinavian heritage, as well as provide a chance to bring those outside of Chilton County to the town.

Swedish Fest President and Chairwoman Laura Liveoak said the event also helps to create a sense of community as well as provide funding for projects within the town.

“It helps us to put back into our town,” she said. “Swedish Fest is for the whole community, for everyone to enjoy (and) to enhance our town.”

Liveoak said the funding from the grant will help with the overall cost of putting on the event, which cost around $7,980 last year.

The Fest will take place Oct. 10, and will feature a beauty pageant, a 5k run, a car show, booths, arts and crafts and entertainment.

Ward said the impact the festival made on the town is what led him to pursue attaining the grant.

“It really involves the people in Thorsby contacting us and making sure we realize how important this festival is,” he said. “It’s a great tourism draw. Every year I come they have a huge number of people that show up, and that’s a credit to the people here.”

Ward said the purpose of the grant is to help events and places that boost tourism.

“What happens is, there’s a certain number of grants the state does on tourism and historical-type facilities,” he said. “Again, every year I’ve come down here I’ve just seen huge crowds of people, and really, the Swedish Fest defines what tourism is in Alabama, because people from all around come to participate in it and enjoy it, and it’s a just great event.”

Liveoak said she appreciated the effort Ward put into helping the festival.

“It impressed me big time,” she said. “I was in the bank one Friday, and he called my cell phone. He asked if we were interested in (the grant), so I told him yes, and he asked me to send his receptionist the information. We filled it out, and we ended up getting it.”

Ward said the town and its people were the reason he pursued the grant.

“The local officials, as well as the volunteers, make the festival possible,” he said. “I’m glad to work with the state to support it, but the real credit goes to the volunteers and the people who work on it.”