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Crowds gather for Stewbilee
It was a perfect day for early-rising runners, playful pups and a smorgasbord of Brunswick stew Saturday at Mary Ross Waterfront Park.

The 14th annual Brunswick Rockin' Stewbilee seemed to be a real hit as crowds of residents and visitors meandered through the venue at Gloucester and Bay streets, downtown.

The cool morning began with a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race at 8:30 a.m., which led to the pooch parade of costumed pets, culminating in the main event.

Tiny, toy dogs to massive hounds paraded through the park, led by their owners, to cheers from the crowd.

Jeanett Vespucci and her 3-year-old pointer, Georgia, dressed as a peacock, returned for the event following Georgia's win last year in the competition.

"It's just such a nice, towny event. I love that I get to see my neighbors and friends, and Georgia loves it, too," Vespucci said of her dog from the Glynn County Animal Services shelter.

Costume creativity abounded Saturday. One little dog, named Jim, had a stuffed-doll jockey riding on his back, while Annabelle, a chihuahua, was dressed as the Cowardly Lion to complement her owners' "Wizard of Oz" costumes.

Sixty to 70 dogs participated in the parade that benefitted the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia and Glynn County Animal Services.

In the day's signature event, the Brunswick stew cooking competition, several dozen teams handed out steaming stew in the brisk air of a fall afternoon.

It was a familiar taste for many festival-goers, but for some, such as 1-year-old Conrad Newton, it was a first-time experience.

Conrad, his mother, Samantha, and father, Matthew, along with his grandmother Tina Strayer, made the trip from Brantley County. As they made their way from booth to booth, it turned out the little guy wasn't the biggest fan of the stew, but he had a good time trying to feed some to his family members.

Some booths had teams of professional cooks who were old-hands at stew-making and were hoping for a first-place finish in the competition. Others, like those at the Southeast Georgia Health System's hospital auxiliary table, were focused on fun.

"We might not win, but we're still No. 1," joked team member James Walker. "We're here to have some fun."

The festival was sponsored by the Brunswick Kiwanis Club and Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.


Stewbilee Results

* Team Presentation Award: Brunswick Cellulose

* People's Choice Award:

1. Brunswick Cellulose

2. The A/C Guys

3. Southern Soul

4. Blackwater Grill

5. Altamaha Technical College

6. Poor Kelly's

* Judges Award:

1. Ameris Bank

2. Brunswick Cellulose

3. The Brunswick News

4. Benton House

5. All Star Tax Team

6. Pepsi

* Points Winner: Brunswick Cellulose

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