Despite no event in 2020, Oliver Hardy Festival shirts are going fast

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 2:46 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 5:54 AM EDT
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HARLEM, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Oliver Hardy Festival is one of many events canceled this year because of the pandemic, but one Harlem teen came up with a creative way to keep the festival’s spirit alive.

“We just try to keep the legacy living here, even though something like this happened,” 19-year-old Hannah Lewis said.

For more than 30 years, thousands have filled the streets of Harlem on the first Saturday of October for the Oliver Hardy Festival.

“I just think it’s really cool that someone so big and inspiring to so many people came from a small town like this,” Lewis said.

For Lewis, it’s about more than just her small town. It’s about family.

“My grandfather, his name is James B. Lewis and he was the mayor of Harlem for 13 years. Because we’re related to Oliver Hardy, he started the Oliver Hardy Festival,” Lewis said.

A 2019 grad, Lewis saw her senior year cut short by the pandemic. She just started an art business and was hoping to set up a booth during the festival. Instead of seeing the cancellation as an obstacle, she saw an opportunity, making pandemic-themed T-shirts to sell.

“I just think it’s a fun way to look at it,” Lewis said. “Instead of being sad it’s canceled, we can be like, ‘OK, yeah, it’s canceled, but we’ll have it again next year or we’ll find a substitute for it.”

The shirts have been going fast.

Orders are even coming in from overseas.

Stan Laurel is the other half of the comedy duo, and people from his hometown in England have bought some. As for if she’ll continue to make shirts for the festival, Lewis hopes so.

“I don’t hope for another pandemic, but I do hope I can continue with T-shirt designs,” Lewis said.

If you want to order one of the shirts, head on over to Lewis’ website.

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