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Teams fight for bragging rights at Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee on Tuesday
Proceeds benefit Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy
Ruth Bruner reads the spelling of the winning word, sesquipedalian, as her teammates Sheila McCleary and Pat Harrell listen during last year’s Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee in Hosch Auditorium at Brenau University. The three, who represented Gainesville First United Methodist Church, won the bee.

Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee
When: 7 p.m. May 16
Where: Hosch Theater, Brenau University, 429 Academy St., Gainesville
Cost: $10 adults and $5 children
More info:

Eight teams from three churches, two colleges, one club, one library and one business will face off in a battle of wits and words.

The Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee returns Tuesday, May 16, to the Hosch Theater on the Brenau University campus in downtown Gainesville. The 26th annual event will begin at 7 p.m. at 429 Academy St. in Gainesville.

Teams competing this year are Brenau University, First Baptist Church, Gainesville First United Methodist Church, Rotary Club of Gainesville, Grace Episcopal Church, Hall County Library, Lanier Technical College and The Times.

Last year, the Circuit Riders from Gainesville First UMC captured the top prize for the second year in a row. The team’s winning word was sesquipedalian.

Each three-person team raises about $1,200 or more to enter the competition. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Proceeds benefit the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy, which hosts the event.

“The funds raised are used for a variety of services, instruction, scholarships and curriculum,” said Dorothy Shinafelt, executive director of the Alliance.

New to the competition this year is “Buzz before the Bee.” Teams and spectators can mingle and partake of beer and wine provided by Tap It from 5:30-7 p.m. in the lobby of Hosch Theatre.

And a familiar face will return to the annual spelling bee. Gay Hammond will act as the Alliance’s longtime Wordsmith. Except this year, she will be presented the Certified Literate Community Honor Roll award for her many years of supporting adult and family literacy programs.

“Our annual bees have raised almost $350,000, which never could have been possible without Gay,” Shinafelt said. “She makes the bee the experience it is. Because of her, this is not some boring event. It is a fast-paced, fun, and often hilarious time.”

Call the Alliance for Literacy at 770-531-3358 or visit for more information.