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COLUMN: Fancy footwear, fiddlin’ fest and ‘fat bottomed girls’

I know I say it over and over again, but it often seems to me that downtown Rome is one of the coolest places a guy could hope to wander around.

The past few days offer a perfect example of just how lucky we are to live in this community.

On Friday an annual tradition returned to Broad Street. Men of all ages and sizes put their dignity on the line as they strutted down Broad Street for the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

The event is aimed at bringing to light the very serious problem of domestic violence and to make everyone (particularly the victims of domestic violence) aware of the services offered right here in Floyd County at the Hospitality House.

Imagine hundreds of people walking down Broad Street during their lunch hour to show solidarity and support for victims of domestic violence. Imagine big burly men with their pants rolled up, stumbling along in wedges, platform boots and stiletto heels. And even more people line the street to watch all this happen. It’s a great event for our community.

It was especially great to see many members of our law enforcement community participating.

And on top of that, there’s always a “hottest legs” contest before the walk. Guys who think they have what it takes get up on a little stage and the crowd cheers for their favorite.

This year my arch-nemesis, City Manager Sammy Rich, got up in front of all those people and showed off his legs. The guy might be my mortal enemy but I have to hand it to him — it takes guts to get up there and flash your legs in front of a crowd and to be judged like that. And his legs weren’t half bad. Don’t tell him I said that. It’ll go straight to his head.

Then on Saturday Broad Street was filled with the sounds of fiddles and banjos as Fiddlin’ Fest came to town.

As some of you know I moved to Rome from Kentucky. Bluegrass music is as sweet a sound to me as anything else in this whole world. So to have several bands playing beautiful Bluegrass all along Broad Street on a cool fall day was heaven to me.

Bands were set up at different spots along Broad Street and played while visitors walked around enjoying the tunes and visiting tents and tables set up by local artists and craftsmen. Local woodcarver Jeremy Smith had a tent set up in front of the Forrest Place buildings and he was carving wooden sculptures while people looked on.

My only suggestion to organizers for next year (I hope Fiddlin’ Fest will come back next year) is maybe not to have so much distance between the music and some of the tents and tables. The 400 block looked pretty empty since most folks were farther down where the music was. I’d suggest keeping everyone a little closer together.

Saturday evening took me away from Broad Street itself and had me high above it. My friends Josh and Nikki (her given name is Crystal, by the way) were gettin’ hitched and the venue was a very fancy space above the 400 Block Bar building. I’d never been up there before and let me tell you it was too high fallutin’ for this Rockmart resident. I was afraid to touch anything.

They said their “I Do’s” under the big beautiful evening sky with Broad Street far below. The funny part was that it was such an intimate ceremony that on any other day it would have been very easy for all in attendance to hear every single word that was said. But even though I was standing right next to the couple, I could only hear the beautiful Bluegrass coming up from Broad Street — but since both Nikki (given name Crystal) and Josh are both Bluegrass fans as well, it seems pretty perfect that their wedding took place smack dab in the middle of a Bluegrass festival.

I have to mention that as they were about to read their vows to each other (vows they wrote themselves) this is the exact moment one of the bands chose to strike up and play a Bluegrass version of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” which drowned out every word they said. So instead of me hearing all the wonderful things they were pledging to each other, I could only watch their lips moving while hearing fiddles and banjos and someone singing “Oh, you gonna take me home tonight. Oh, down beside that red fire light...fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.”

It was a great weekend in this beautiful place we call home. But then there’s always something great to see and do downtown. With the weather getting cooler and the leaves changing color, I invite all of you to come on downtown and enjoy a few hours there. You can grab some food at one of the restaurants or your beverage of choice at one of the bars. Or just take your family for a stroll on the boardwalk. Take your dog for a walk in the Between the Rivers district. Catch a show at the historic DeSoto Theatre. Take a picnic up to the Clock Tower.

Come see why I love this place so much.

Severo Avila is features editor at the Rome News-Tribune.