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Ice cream vendor knows how to advertise

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DECATUR - With the heat beaming at Decatur Celebration, the 30-foot ice cream cone on Main Street could look like the ultimate cool-off grail.

Too bad it isn't real.

Larry Heitman of Garland, Texas, inflated the ice cream atop his fiberglass cone Friday, preparing for Celebration.

Resembling a five-layer vanilla ice cream cone, Heitman said sometimes his business, Ice Cream and More, isn't so obvious to people.

"You'd be surprised the number of people who come up and ask 'What do you sell here?' " he said with a laugh.

The stand offers three flavors of soft-serve ice cream in a cone, cup or waffle cone, chocolate-dipped cones, three kinds of shakes, floats and sundaes.

Heitman said his giant traveling ice cream stand is one of seven in the world and has helped him be a part of festivals regularly.

"It's enabled me to get into events I probably wouldn't get into without it because of its uniqueness," he said.

He added that he was excited to be part of the "exclusive" Decatur Celebration in his first time as vendor at the event.

"I've heard nothing but positive things about this festival," he said, adding that he was impressed by the event's organization. "I like it so far."

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DOG DAYS: If you arrive at Decatur Celebration and decide you want to share the experience with your family dog, you can.

Not by bringing the pooch downtown; that's against the rules.

But Melissa Gruenhagen of Hamilton, Ohio, is making it possible to take a little bit of Celebration home to your furry family member.

"Pup's Pizza" and "Peamutt Butter" are among 27 flavors of dog treats offered by Gruenhagen, located on North Park Street.

She sells wholesale to veterinarians, grocery stores and groomers and does about 40 shows a year.

While some dog lovers come right up to her - "Dog barkeries have become kind of chic in the last 10 years or so," she said - Gruenhagen draws others in as they pass by simply asking, "Do you have a dog?"

She offers a sampling of 14 for $6, or one of each flavor for $11.

Gruenhagen said her business - Give a Doggy a Bone (www.giveadoggyabone.com) - has "most of the things you see in a normal bakery. "And about a million cookie cutters."

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KNOT OR NOT: This isn't your regular Boy Scout knot.

Vendor Vanh Mixay of Atlanta was taught by her grandparents to create works of art by using a modernized traditional Asian rope knotting technique.

"Every piece is all by us," she said, with displays of animals, mythical creatures and spiders dangling above her head.

Mixay said they hand-knot jute, a coarse twine, around wire to make the figures shapeable. The twine is sometimes dyed, adding color to the figures, she added.

"Most of the people are surprised," she said of her creations, "because they've never seen anything like this before. They say it's neat."

The business can be found along Merchant Street.

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YOU SAY WIENEE -: If you question Jay and Vicky Beck about their business' name, the question may cause panic or start an argument.

The Becks, from Melvin, are in the second year of running The Wienee Wagon, selling beef hot dogs, chili dogs, cheese dogs and combinations of the above.

They're on Main Street, just past the Kids' Stage.

"We asked a bazillion people how to spell it," Vicky Beck said.

"We had a discussion," Jay said.

Vicky ultimately decided on the "wie" spelling, based off the German "wienerschnitzel."

"Even our food suppliers spell it differently," Vicky said.

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MAKIN' ICE CREAM: Macon Ice Cream manager Lynn Byrum says bring it on, Decatur - she's ready for you.

The tiny ice cream shop on Prairie Street - run by Macon Resources Inc., and that agency's effort to provide training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities - has been open about 18 months and was open during Celebration last year.

"So far, it's been pleasantly busy," Byrum reported late afternoon Friday. Last year, she said, Friday and Saturday nights were particularly busy, and it was considerably cooler last year.

She didn't run out of ice cream last year, she said, and is confident she won't this year, either.

"Nope," she said. "This year, we've got freezers across the street," in the business' new location. "And there's always midnight. I was down here last year at midnight making ice cream."

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CRAZY WOMAN RANCH: It's only fitting to find a lint-cleaning belly button duster or a herd starter kit, also called cow seeds, at Crazy Woman Ranch, which is set up along Water Street during Celebration.

Wendy Misner and her mother, Joyce, run the business from Sharps Chapel, Tenn., when it was originally named Rag Dolls Ranch.

Misner said the name was changed because they were tired of explaining to people, whether they sold rag dolls or the cat breed, ragdolls. They sold the dolls.

She added "crazy woman" came from some of the ideas the duo thought up for the family business.

"We have great marketing ideas," Misner said, "but people tell us we're crazy."

She said, for instance, their idea of a blowup man, who fixes what needs to be fixed and you can deflate him when finished.

"That's why everyone thinks we're crazy," she said with a laugh.

The belly button duster is a gag gift "for the man who has everything," Misner said. Another gag gift they sell is the "throw a fit," which is a ball of yarn that carries the instructions to throw when one is upset.

"It's a silent temper tantrum," she said.

Also at the stand, you can find rock oil lamps, dog and cat accessories, handbags, aprons, potholders and more.

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FOOD VENDORS ABSENT: Two food vendors scheduled for the event did not arrive - fudge and fried cheesecake.

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ZERO TOLERANCE: The city of Decatur sent notice of a zero tolerance policy toward underage drinking and attempts to purchase alcohol at Celebration.

Tim Cain can be reached at timcain@herald-review.com or 421-6908. Alicia Spates can be reached at aspates@herald-review.com or 421-6986.

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