Martha Jo Leonard

The late Martha Jo Leonard, who was instrumental in a number of community causes, was named Athens Grease Festival Grease Goddess in 2017. Organizers behind the festival, set for Oct. 19 in downtown Athens, are seeking nominations for this year's goddess.

Organizers of the Athens Grease Festival are searching for a woman with a dash of determination, a pinch of city pride and a whole helping of a how-can-I-give-back attitude.

The woman with the right ingredients will become Athena-Grease Goddess and will oversee a festival once dubbed One of the Oddest in Alabama.

The Athens Grease Festival touts itself as a quirky event that honors the Greek origin of the city’s name and is a celebration of all things fried. The blend of Greek and Southern results in a toga party on the city’s historic Square with foods such as fried Sun Drop cupcakes and activities like a frozen turkey toss. The festival would not be complete without an Athena overseeing the event.

The mythical Athena was a wise Greek goddess who loved and protected the city of Athens, could be a warrior, and had a creative side and interest in the arts, crafts and agriculture. Likewise, Athena–Grease Goddess should demonstrate similar qualities through her willingness to give back to the city.

She must be a Limestone County resident who works to improve the city of Athens through avenues such as volunteering with nonprofits, with the arts, with youth, on a city board, or through environmental efforts. She can earn extra points for being known as a good cook.

Athena will lead the opening ceremonies for the festival that will be in downtown Athens on Oct. 19. Athena-Grease Goddess will have a throne of honor on the courthouse steps where she can watch the festivities and meet with event-goers. Downtown merchant Hendricks-Patton-Rancl provides the seat of honor for the goddess.

In addition, Athena will receive a toga, a battery-operated torch and a burlap beauty queen sash.

“Our previous Athena goddesses embraced the concept of this festival, which is to play off of a Greek name for a Southern city and to not take ourselves too seriously,” said Athena Search Organizer Holly Hollman. “There are many women in Limestone County who work tirelessly with little recognition to enhance Athens, and this is a chance to spotlight one of those women and have fun doing it.”

Organizers will accept nominations through 4:30 p.m. Aug. 26. Applications are available online on the Athens Main Street website and on Athens Main Street, Athens Grease Festival and City of Athens, Ala. (Public Relations) Facebook pages.

The festival’s top sponsor will review the nominations and choose Athena.

The festival’s past Athena-Grease Goddesses are:

• Helen Carter, for her volunteer work with senior programs and other organizations;

• Maria Taylor, for her volunteer work with various agencies including the Red Cross and Learn-to-Read;

• Marlene Isom, for hosting fundraisers that have benefited several non-profit organizations; and

• The late Martha Jo Leonard, for her volunteer work with multiple non-profit organizations including Rotary.

Visit athensmainstreet.org for more information and to view the Grease Goddess application.