Published 11:45 pm Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jim Kearney and his reptiles were creating quite a show and gathering a crowd on Cherry Street Saturday morning.

Kearney, of Birmingham, Ala., makes lizards from foam. Controlled by a thick, stiff metal wire, they can walk across a floor, and with the aid of a bulb filled with water and a small plastic line running along the wire, they can shoot a stream of water about 2 feet.

It was that ability that caught the eye of children and adults as they walked past his tent at the 29th Annual Old Court House Flea Market Saturday. The lizard’s performance had children squealing with delight and the grown-ups checking out how it worked.

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Kearney, who is a flea market regular, was one of about 18 food and 150 vendors participating in the market, which was held in conjunction with Vicksburg’s 18th Fall Festival, just a few blocks away on Washington Street.

The Fall Festival offered the Farmers’ Market and a three-band battle of the bands.

“I think we only had a couple of vendors who didn’t make it,” said Bubba Bolm, Old Court House director. “We’ve got a good variety of booths and there’s a good crowd. The weather’s not bad.”

Balm estimated about 4,500 people attended the flea market, while Kim Hopkins, executive director of Vicksburg Main Street said about 3,000 attended the Fall Festival.

Although overcast skies and temperatures in the 50s cast a chill over Warren County, they didn’t stop people from walking the perimeter around the Old Court House and examining the wares and food offered by the vendors or looking at the selection from vendors on Washington Street.

“We just love getting out,” said Jennifer Barnes of Vicksburg, who was taking in the flea market sights with her dog, Coco, and her mother, Catherine Pittman.

“The weather’s fine,” Barnes said. “It feels good after the hot summer weather we’ve had to get out and walk around. Actually, the real reason I came here is Jim Erwin’s honey.”

“A lot of people have come by to see me,” Erwin said as he waited on a customer at his booth on Jackson Street. “I’ve been coming here about 7 or 8 years. A lot of people like my honey.”

A bit more to the west on Jackson Street, Morgan Johnson was attracting visitors’ attention with pecans and fire pits, open metal containers that can be used to barbecue meat or warm people during outside activities in the winter.

“I’ve had people use them for cooking, and I’ll put whatever they want on them,” said Johnson, whose regular job is a civil engineer. “Some people use them as gold fish ponds, and others just for heating outside. I also make yard ornaments. It’s a seasonal thing. The fire pits sell in the fall and winter, and the ornamentals sell in the spring.”

Next to Johnson, Elaine Williams and Joyce Dollar had their yard displays sets in a maze for potential shoppers. The women said they have coming to the flea market “for a long time,” adding they do most of the work cutting and painting the decorations.

“With the help of my husband,” Williams said.

South on Washington Street, booths from Vicksburg’s fall Farmers’ Market dominated the Fall Festival vendors, offering plants, vegetables, jams, jellies and pasta, among the selections.

“Everyone who registered has come, and we got a few more today,” said Farmers’ Marker coordinator Kristen Meehan. She said eight vendors had signed up for the market and three more were added Saturday morning.

The booth manned by Shelley Chambers and her sister, Christy, offered a selection of linguine with flavors such as shiitake mushroom, tomato basil and southwest chipotle.

“We found these at a market in Dallas. A man had a shop there, and it had a line out of the door,” she said. “We thought we might try it and see how it did here. It’s done very well. We have repeat customers.

While the Farmers’ Market booths received attention, many of the Fall Festival visitors gathered by the River Stage, where the battle of the bands was under way with Vicksburg bands Pizza Punks, Propeller Head and Anna Belle competing.

Propeller Head won the contest and will open RiverFest’s main programming Saturday, with Anna Belle opening on Friday. Pizza Punks will also perform at RiverFest.

One of the people gathering around the area and watching the activity was Booker Larry of Vicksburg, who was giving his granddaughter, Ayana Walker, 3, a ride on his motorized chair.

“I’m here for the young’uns,” he said, looking at his grandchildren.

Cherry Cox was also there for a relative. Her son, Aron Shiers, was preparing to perform with his band in the battle of the bands.

“We’ve been to the flea market and now we’re over here,” she said. “We love getting out for the flea market and the Fall Festival, and the weather has been good, even with the clouds. It’s all been really good.”