published Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Police skeptical of Cornbread Fest rumors

by Brittany Cofer

The family oriented National Cornbread Festival might be the last place you'd think would attract gang members, but talk is flying in South Pittsburg, Tenn., that gangs are heading for a fight at this weekend's event.

Area residents have been hearing that gangs from Nashville and Atlanta are planning for a battle Friday or Saturday night.

But the police chief and county sheriff said they haven't heard the rumors. And even if they turn out to be true, there will be plenty of officers present.

"I hadn't heard that one," South Pittsburg Police Chief Dale Winters said about the rumors. "Of course, there's rumors flying around everywhere. ... You never know."

Police are beefing up security at the annual festival, now in its 14th year, after two recent shootings in the Moore Park area.

Two Anniston, Ala., men believed to be members of the 357 Crips gang were caught two blocks from the park after a shooting on April 11, according to Times Free Press archives.

South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian stated in an earlier Times Free Press report that he doesn't want to see what he called gang turf wars in his city. Mr. Killian did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

Chief Winters said officers from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the sheriff's SWAT team and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be on hand for the weekend's events, but not specifically because of the rumored gang activity.


* What: National Cornbread Festival

* When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (all times Central)

* Where: 213 S. Cedar Ave., downtown South Pittsburg, Tenn. (take Exit 152 off I-24)

* Admission: $3 per day; free for preschoolers

* Phone: 423-837-0022

* Web site:

* Note: No pets

"If there's any trouble, it might be there this weekend," Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said. "We're going to assist in anything they need and serve as backup. ... We're going to try to show a presence, a force."

Chief Winters said that festival patrons who see "anything out of the ordinary" should find one of the police officers who will be stationed at several areas throughout the town.

Still, Chief Winters is skeptical that gangs from cities each about two hours away would choose the Cornbread Festival as their battleground.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," he said. "But I'm doing everything I can to not let it happen. And 'Come enjoy yourself' is all I say."

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: SOUTH PITTSBURG: Town getting ready for Cornbread Festival

Article: SOUTH PITTSBURG: Cornbread Festival gets recognition

Article: SOUTH PITTSBURG: Cornbread Festival a success

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
dao1980 said...

Wow, Am I a bad person if I think that this is hilarious? It just too closely resembles something that I would expect to see in a cartoon. Mama hide yer cornbread! The gangs are a comin!

April 22, 2010 at 9 a.m.
rolando said...

That's one celebration to be avoided.

It can't be good to be caught in the middle of a gang shoot-out, whether it happens or not.

Why take a chance...

Avoid SoPitts this weekend. Go the week after.

April 22, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.
princehal said...

Or we get some of those folks with their handgun permits to escort us. People like me will bring the butter and pinto beans.

April 22, 2010 at 1:50 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Sorry prince - if you aren't concerned enough about your safety to protect yourself, why should anyone else take up your slack? Enjoy the beans

April 22, 2010 at 1:58 p.m.
princehal said...

Well I was going to share, but you can just forget it now, mister.

April 22, 2010 at 2:17 p.m.
GlacierClipper said...

Yummies Cornbread!

April 22, 2010 at 4:43 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Perhaps this is the appropriate place to discuss the latest rumor.

Is it true the South Pittsburg First Church of Martha White (Goodness Gracious, It's Good!) will be presenting a cornbread sculpture of Mohammed and serving pinto beans and ham-hocks from his turban?

April 22, 2010 at 4:47 p.m.

Most likely members of rival Mexican Cornbread gangs converging to ruin those good ole'boy's special day:)

April 22, 2010 at 7:42 p.m.
eyeonyou said...

There are gangs all over, even in Chattanooga, TN. I think we worry more about this than real terrorist and illegal immigrants that could be there too.? I worry that these gangs feed on this and we need to keep having fun with our families. I pray nothing happens as I have enjoyed the festival in the past. We can't keep running! We need to make the "gangs keep running". I feel with upgraded police force avail. it may distract any non-sense. I also believe in gun permits and protecting yourself if it comes down to it. If we live in fear all the time we might as well not live at all!!!

April 22, 2010 at 8:25 p.m.
sideviews said...

This is only a rumor without anyone identified who says it is true. Even the police don't know about it. Is this really a news story?

April 22, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.
rolando said...

There seems to be so much the police don't know about, sideviews...or pretend not to know.

harrystatel -- That post is so wrong on so many fronts .... But it is HILARIOUS! Thanks, man. Loved the Ham-In-The-Turban phrase. Instant mental picture.

April 22, 2010 at 10:42 p.m.
socrates said...

This is irresponsible journalism at its worst. The journalist has overlooked the need for sourcing the information. Citing "area residents" is vague, and the entire report is misleading. A citing by an authority would have not only been more appropriate, but it also would not have left "area residents" suspect of the named gangs as informants. This reporting is unprofessional and unacceptable. At best, this will lead to the Cornbread Festival becoming an NRA convention, complete with profiling of attendants. The Smith & Wesson CEO is probably getting a hefty laugh out of this situation, if not a heavy wallet.

April 23, 2010 at 8:13 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

You all need to listen to Rolando and Sailor!! Buy guns learn how to use them and then buy more guns. It's the only way to be safe.

BTW my shares in RGR are up over $7 in the last 8 months - Suckers!!!

April 23, 2010 at 11:40 p.m.
elliek said...

OMG! This article is just ridiculous! Talk is flying in South Pittsburg about about gangs from Atlanta and Nashville? Really?? Well it is now. Why? Because an irresponsible journalist published unsubstantiated rumors. I live and work in South Pittsburg and hadn't heard a word about it until people read this. South Pittsburg is a small town and the Festival attracts thousands of people. Such a large influx of people will inevitably raise the possibility of conflicts. But to suggest "gang wars" based on "what somebody heard" is just asinine. Honestly, I believe that the weather will be more likely to cause problems.

April 24, 2010 at 12:47 a.m.
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