HOSCHTON - Scarecrows and people mingled Friday and today in Hoschton for the city's 34th annual fall festival.
Despite overcast skies, hundreds of people showed up to browse more than 100 booths filled with food, arts and crafts and other attractions. Everything from stained glass window decorations and embroidered caps to homemade blankets and jewelry were on sale both days. Storefronts along Ga. 53 propped open their doors and displayed their merchandise for those meandering along the main highway through the city.
Local groups, including the Community Emergency Response Team, Braselton Mother's Club and National Organization for Rare Diseases, gave visitors information about their organizations.
Festival activities included live performances by several local groups, including the Talent Stampede talent show winners, Karate Striker Team and Charlotte's School of Dance. Musical groups Banks and Shane performed on Friday and Bill Gentry and the 35 Cent Rodeo graced the stage at Towne Center today.
Today's festivities kicked off with both a 3-mile run and parade. The Scarecrow Stampede 3-mile run started at West Jackson Ball Field and wound through Hoschton's back roads.
The parade started at West Jackson Intermediate School and traveled down Ga. 53 to Towne Center Shopping Center.
Eddie Brock and his family were among the hundreds of festivalgoers watching the parade, which included horse-drawn carriages, local organizations' floats, antique cars and even a giant Mayfield Dairy cow.
Brock, a Hoschton resident, was excited to see his children, Griffin, 5, Hank, 3, and Anna Grace, 7; all three were riding on the Hoschton First Baptist Church float.
Winder resident Deb Martin watched the parade with her grandchildren, Abbi and Eli Higbie. While the children looked forward to getting their faces painted, Martin said she wanted to browse the crafts and food.
"Everybody still likes an old-fashioned town festival," she said.
Marcia Tague and her daughter, Jenny Black-Swain, and grandson, Gavin Black, also came to the parade. Black-Swain and Black, 8, ran in the Scarecrow Stampede that morning and were ready to enjoy the festival and lunch. The two Woodstock residents were visiting Tague, a Hoschton resident.
"It's just fun to see everyone having fun and smiling," Tague said about the festival. "And the scarecrows are such a unique idea."
Tague said her daughter and grandson helped her make five scarecrows for Hoschton's effort to beat the world record for most scarecrows in one place. Hoschton surpassed its goal of 4,000 scarecrows with a total of 5,541; the city will find out later this year whether it secured a place in the Guinness World Records book.
At 2 p.m., Hoschton's scarecrow feat was recognized during a ceremony held at City Square, emceed by "scarecrow queen" Robbie Bettis and City Councilwoman Teresa Kenerly.
"We are so excited about what has taken place here in terms of the scarecrows and the camaraderie," Bettis said.
Bettis, Kenerly and Hoschton Mayor Bill Copenhaver honored the members of the committee that organized the festival, the festival's sponsors and the people who made the most scarecrows. Publix on Ga. 124, Hoschton Women's Civic Club, Hoschton First Baptist Church, Georgia Kids Academy and Deer Creek Farms were all recognized for their contributions to the scarecrow record efforts.
Bettis also took the time to recognize the best of the best scarecrows around town, including the "Pirates of the Crowibbean" display in the Quail Crossing subdivision, the Cousin Itt scarecrow in front of City Hall and the fireman scarecrow created by the West Jackson Fire Department.
But the ceremony wasn't complete until Kenerly and Copenhaver thanked Bettis for all the work she had done to organize the scarecrow efforts.
"I've gotten to know her and appreciate her," Kenerly said to a crowd of about 100 people. "And I'm glad I have a new friend."