Just what were you doing in 1987? It was a landmark year. The Iran Contra scandal was in full swing. In the music/art world, Liberace, Kabalevsky and Warhol bit the dust while U2’s wildly popular Joshua Tree album was birthed.

Personally, I remember holding hands with the prettiest girl in school at the Little Shop of Horrors remake. I was quite the hero amongst my friends. As if all these events weren’t important enough, that was also the year of the first Baldwin County Strawberry Festival.

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To make it 27 years is a remarkable feat for any event. This one is still going strong. The dates of this year’s fest are April 12 and 13, and visitors can expect more of the same from years past. Arts and crafts, games for the kids, and carnival rides should be enough, but live music featuring heavy hitters Sugarcane Jane, Lisa Mills and many more certainly adds to the allure. Saturday features a classic car show and the Antique Tractor and Engine Club will be on hand both days. Ask for Dallas if you make it by that attraction.

Although food vendors will be plentiful, whatever you do save room for strawberry shortcake. That is the reason for this event in the first place.

The whole shindig takes place at 4198 Municipal Park in Loxley, Ala., just a mile and a half south of I-10 on Ala. 59. It runs from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days, with music all day beginning at 10 a.m. Although admission is free, all money raised at the festival goes to the Association for Retarded Citizens of Baldwin County (ARCBC) and Loxley Elementary.

Tilmo folks prepare to open Cotton State BBQ downtown

If you thought one downtown barbecue joint was enough, think again. We’ve got Moe’s at one end of Dauphin cranking out the ‘cue. Now another place is serving up the good stuff down the street. Don’t worry, it’s apples and oranges.

Cotton State BBQ just had its soft opening at 101 N. Conception at the corner of St. Michael. Turns out the restaurant is controlled by Tilmo’s BBQ of West Mobile. That’s where the meats are smoked the night before and transported to the downtown location. The smallish building would not support the smoking of meats on premise.

Yes, they have pulled pork sandwiches and the like, but they pride themselves on adding a twist to other menu items. I had a potato smothered in brisket, sour cream on the side, and barbecue sauce followed by fries that are pretty much the same way except this time with pork and cheese. By the way, the sauce is excellent.

They do have lighter offerings like turkey sandwiches and chicken salad. This could be a great lunch spot for the Bienville Square crowd.

At the time of this writing, there wasn’t even a sign out front. The Facebook page is nothing more than a logo and an address. Still the place was bustling with people. It is a good sign of things to come.

Call 251-545-4682 for to-go orders. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

The Noble South to fill Busaba void

According to a sign in the window and a Facebook page, the former downtown Thai connection Busaba’s vacancy will be replaced by a new southern restaurant called The Noble South.

The actual address is 203 Dauphin, and not much is known other than owner/Chef Chris Rainosek and owner Robert Yarbrough are the minds behind the operation. Word on the street is to expect farm to table style cuisine in a fairly casual atmosphere. I sure hope that’s what we get. Facebook page says coming March 2014.

The House to fill Shamrock void

If you were a fan of Blu Bistro and the Shamrock Rose and Thistle (and I was), then this will make your Spring Hill visits a pleasure.

Kevin Brooks, former owner/chef of Blu Bistro and chef at Shamrock Rose and Thistle, has opened his own restaurant, The House, in the former Shamrock Rose and Thistle building. The soft opening occurred last week at the 4313 D Old Shell Road location. I can’t wait to get my hands on the po-boys, pastas, pork chops and burgers. Shrimp and grits are also a fave.

Open Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m. and Sunday brunch 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Check them out soon before they get too popular. Find them right behind Holiday.