The first Georgia Sweet Potato Festival was held on November 21, 1960, shortly after the Georgia Sweet Potato Improvement Association was founded. The mission of the organization was to represent and promote the sweet potato industry and growers in Georgia. The first festival in Ocilla was so successful, the organizers chose to make it the permanent home of the festival. Today the festival continues to draw hundreds of sweet potato fans from all over the state.
The annual Sweet Potato Festival is held on the last Saturday in October. The festival also offers a car show that features automobiles from the early years of the auto industry, antique farm equipment and refurbished vintage and classic cars. There are also arts and craft vendors selling handmade artwork, jewelry and decorative items. For kids there is an entertainment center with face painters, games and kiddie rides.
Although the annual Miss Georgia Sweet Potato Pageant is held in the Spring before the opening of the festival in the Fall, the outcome determines who will ride on the royal float in the parade and be the face of the festival for the year. Categories from babies to teens are available. Our Miss Georgia Sweet Potato will receive $1,000 Scholarship money towards her education. Click on the link for the Pageant Application.
Sweet Potato Parade
With a collection of marching bands from area schools and participants from the community, Hwy 129 becomes the stage for a themed parade at 11 am on festival day. The Ocilla-Irwin Chamber of Commerce has a contest in the summer to help establish a slogan each year. The slogan helps set the theme for the celebration and provides inspiration to parade participants for the design of floats and costumes.