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Hoschton festival, pageant draw crowds despite weather
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Brantley Zerges, a member of Hoschton's Cub Scout Pack No. 282, collects $1 from a patron for popcorn during the Hoschton Fall Festival on Saturday. Zerges continuously called out to people passing by, "Popcorn, get your popcorn, only $1!" - photo by KATIE DUNN

HOSCHTON — Despite a rainy Saturday morning, people still packed the streets of Hoschton to celebrate the city’s 35th annual fall festival.

Vendors lined the City Square, Hoschton Depot and Towne Center Shopping Center parking lots, offering food, arts and crafts, a children’s park, live entertainment and other attractions.

Everything from jewelry to handbags to handcrafted wooden bowls was on sale. The Jackson County Humane Society also attended and held pet adoptions.

Husband and wife Christine and David Buehler of Pendergrass brought their art, all made from recyclable materials.

Lighthouses fashioned out of clay pots, lamps made out of Budweiser bottles and wind chimes with old spoons and forks adorned the couple’s booth.

Christine Buehler, who has attended the festival with her business, JDC Designs, for the past three years, said she loves returning each year.

"It’s completely worth coming out and just seeing what everybody’s doing, rain or shine," she said.

Gainesville residents Kristie Kiser and daughter MacKenzie, 6, attended to see Kiser’s father ride in the festival’s annual parade, which later was canceled because of the wet weather.

Even so, Kiser said she was looking forward to enjoying the festival’s other attractions.

"I’ve heard there are some neat things down here to do, so we just thought we’d check it out," she said.

Seeing the Wizard of Oz scarecrows was one attraction that Mackenzie enjoyed. The famous characters were perched near city hall, and represented just some of the many stuffed creations adorning the city’s streets and business fronts.

Last year, Hoschton attempted to break the Guinness World Record for having the most scarecrows in one area. The city created 5,441, but due to a technicality did not receive the honor.

However, the city’s scarecrow adulation didn’t end after last year’s setback. On Thursday, Hoschton held its inaugural Miss Hoschton Scarecrow Pageant. Five women created four unique scarecrows donning long ball gowns, all vying to be named Miss Hoschton Scarecrow 2009.

Each participant created a biography for her scarecrow and had to answer two questions on stage. Taking the crown was Miss Beulah Belle Bodean, sporting a shiny gold dress with tiny crows flying above her head. Bodean was created by resident Kimberly Horn.

"It took about eight hours in all to make her," Horn said following her win.

Horn’s scarecrow received a crown and sash and will reside at Antique Station for the next year.

The festival, a three-day affair this year, concludes at 5 p.m. today. Booths and the children’s park will open at 10 a.m.

A new event this year, Bark for Life, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. with a parade and several contests for both pets and their owners. The fundraiser, sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Jackson County Humane Society, is a way for dogs and their owners to help raise money to fight cancer.

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