3rd ID celebrates Glennville’s 39th annual sweet onion festival

4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor

Date: 05.09.2015
Posted: 05.13.2015 09:20
News ID: 163122
3rd ID celebrates Glennville’s 39th annual sweet onion festival

GLENNVILLE Ga. - “Do you like them Vidalia onions!”

That’s what Sonny Dixon asked the large and excited crowd during the opening ceremony of the 39th Annual Glennville Sweet Onion Festival in Glennville, Georgia, May 9, 2015, where 64 soldiers from Fort Stewart represented the 3rd Infantry Division.

“You can put ‘em in a relish or you can do like I just did on television,” said the Emmy award winning TV news anchor. “You can take one of those things and eat it raw like an apple.”

The ceremony kicked-off by the posting of the national colors from a color guard of 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, and a sweet rendition of the national anthem that could have brought tears to your eyes, and it wasn’t the onions.

Glennville has hosted the festival celebrating Georgia’s state vegetable since 1977 and historically has drawn more than 6,000 people each year to the State Farmers’ Market in Glennville; it is also the largest residential community of Tattnall County, which produces more Vidalia sweet onions than any other county, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Early in the day the celebration began with a sweet onion run and a parade where soldiers marched through the farming city. The festival, which the Marne Division has supported each of the past six years, also included folk art, a petting zoo, locally made goods, rides, and a turtle race, while local vendors fried up onion rings and blooming onions.

Lt. Col. Michael Biankowski and Command Sgt. Maj. David Hopkins, the command team for the “Sentinel” Battalion, lead the color guard and a formation of soldiers, who were cheered by the welcoming crowd. The soldiers consisted of many job specialties including combat engineers, unmanned aircraft pilots and communication, military intelligence and chemical specialists.

Sgt. Brandon Fitzpatrick, a combat engineer with Company A, 4-3 BSTB, lead the formation in calling cadence.

“Being able to take leadership and a formation from my battalion in front of the city of Glennville was pretty motivating,” said the Cleveland, Ohio, native. “Just to show them that we care about our community and that we’re here for what the city needs.”

“You have all these eyes looking at the military,” added Fitzpatrick, whose family also joined him at the festival, and said it felt good marching and felt the pressure of being in front of everyone, but was happy to do it. “Anything for the community, I try to take part of; it’s always a pleasure,” he added.

During his address to the crowd at the opening ceremony, Biankowski thanked the community for their warm welcome.

“Your support has been and remains critical to the resiliency of our soldiers and their families,” he said. “We are proud to call it one of Fort Stewart’s partnered communities.”

“On a personal level, I grew up in a small town in Tennessee and I can really appreciate such a festive occasion to celebrate the local harvest,” Biankowski continued. “We are extremely happy to be a part of it today.”

“As the Vanguard Brigade transitions later this month to become the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also called the Spartan Brigade, we will continue to support our community partners in Glennville and Tatnall County,” concluded Biankowski.