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24th Annual Hot Corner Festival highlights Athens’ Black community and business owners

East Washington and North Hull Streets were packed with vendors and visitors this Saturday for the Hot Corner Festival, which celebrates Black community and heritage in Athens.

Dr. Tawana S Mattox, known as Dr. T in the Athens community, is the chairperson of the Hot Corner Festival. She says the yearly celebration seeks to promote the inclusion of businesses owned by African American people in downtown Athens.

“Our goal is to make sure the history of Hot Corner is not forgotten. Once there were 66 businesses that ran from Hull to Washington all the way up to Milledge. We want our younger generation to understand that history and that they do belong downtown. We want to channel that need for diversity to come back to the downtown area.”

The intersection of Hull and Washington was a thriving hub of Black commerce in Athens in the early 20th century. Hot Corner centered on the Morton Theatre, built in 1910.

Sammy Smith is behind the grill at his business Dawg Pit Barbecue, flipping hot dogs and preparing pulled pork and nachos. He says he wanted to come out to support the community.

“We always have been hearing about the event down here and how good it was and what it was trying to do for the community. I decided to come down this year and try to help out the community.”

The Hot Corner Association is a media partner of WUGA.

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