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Annual Irmo Okra Strut Festival returns

A small green fruit, often mistaken for a vegetable, returns as the centerpiece of a Midlands celebration, that was delayed one year due to the pandemic.

IRMO, S.C. — The Irmo Okra Strut returns this year and even though some things may look a little different due to COVID restrictions, the fried okra people know and love will stay the same.

“We all have been locked up so long, and it is wonderful to get out in this fresh open air, beautiful weather, and enjoy a community event,” said Vice Chairman Larry Slaughter.

The Okra Strut started 48 years ago as a fundraiser by the Lake Murray-Irmo Woman’s Club to build the Irmo Branch library. Last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“All of the committees were together and we were trying our best to put something together that was maybe a virtual concert but we just didn’t have the funds to make that possible at the last minute with the way our town is set up,” said Oktra Strut marketer Cynthia Giles.

This year the Okra Strut is back and festival goers can look forward to live music from Terrance Young and the Finesse Band, as well as former American Idol winner Candice Glover.

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Posted by Irmo Okra Strut on Friday, September 24, 2021

“This is a great band. I’ve been to Okra Strut several times. This is a fantastic band,” said festival goer April Harris.

But the music group has to share the title of main attraction with the okra.

“I love okra. I like it sauteed and fried. I like okras over my peas, it’s really good. So that’s why I’m here. And to see Terrance Young of course,” said Rosetta Legette.

As people enjoy the sounds and tastes the festival has to offer, safety is still top of mind. COVID precautions are in place.

There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the festival and people are encouraged to stay six feet apart from each other.

There are also workers disinfecting the public areas where people are sitting down to eat.

RELATED: Festival season returns as health care systems deal with pandemic

“Of course we do ask everybody as a real personal responsibility...please... if you shouldn’t be out in public, if you’re sick, don’t be here. If you’re endangered, please don’t be here. But this is about as safe a fun environment we can imagine we can provide the Midlands,” said vice chairman Larry Slaughter.

Coordinating this year’s festival certainly came with its challenges. Most of the hardship came in finding enough volunteers due to COVID restrictions.

“It’s been very difficult getting the manpower necessary to get this going but despite all of that everything is up so we’re ready to go,” said Giles.

Festival goers say they are very excited for the Okra Strut’s much-anticipated comeback.

“I’ve been coming out to the Okra Strut for probably the last ten years. So I just would like to welcome everybody to Irmo and I hope everybody has a good time because I know I am. Especially to see Terrance Young,” said festival goer Zina Robinson.