Orestes basks in 'Small Town USA' atmosphere at street fair

Jul. 16—ORESTES — As she chatted with friends and enjoyed an ice cream cone from a nearby food truck, Amanda Millikan demurred when she was complimented on the vegetables she was selling.

She credited her longtime companion, who died this year, with giving her a wealth of expertise that she uses to care for a nearly one-acre garden at her residence near the center of town.

"I was trained by the best, and his name was David Johnson," Millikan said. "He was a farmer, and he passed away in February. He just taught me how to take care of the dirt and how to plant it and when to pick it."

Millikan asked organizers of the Orestes Street Fair whether she could bring some produce from her garden to sell, and received an enthusiastic response. Her table was filled with green beans, zucchini, cabbage, beets and tomatoes, but many of the vegetables didn't remain for long.

"We're just trying to feed people some good food that's not as expensive as the store," Millikan said.

Other food booths also did brisk business throughout the day as hundreds of people roamed Superior and Oak streets, which had been blocked off to allow craft vendors to set up booths to display merchandise.

The fair, in its second year, is seen by some as a new iteration of the town's Oak Tree Festival, which was last held in 2004. Like its predecessor, the street fair is intended to bring the town's 300 or so residents together and showcase many of its charms.

"We're just a little town," said Sheri Patton, one of the street fair's organizers. "We like to have people around, we like to enjoy things, and we like to bring people in and just show them that it's always a place to come home to."

Patton noted that improvements to the Orestes Town Park — including new fencing around the perimeter and a brick pad to support the steps on the gazebo — were completed in time for the fair.

"We're just trying to beautify the town, get more people involved, so it's something nice that we've tried to incorporate," she said. "We've just really tried to make it nice for everybody who comes into town."

The fair, other residents said, also provides an opportunity to show hometown pride.

"It's Small Town USA. It truly, truly is," said Dennis Thomason, who lives two blocks from the center of town. "I've run into people I've lived with, went to school with and worked with my entire life right here.

"We all need to get together sometimes just to honor our little bitty town."

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.