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Oakwood hopes to attract more community events
Vicki Kennedy and her daughter Faith Renee, 4, enjoy a hot summer afternoon Monday at the Oakwood Pool. The city of Oakwood, through a new events committee it created, is planning more community events for the town, such as an upcoming movie in the park and block party at the pool.
Gainesville has its Mule Camp Market and Dahlonega has Gold Rush Days.

While many area cities have signature events, the South Hall town of Oakwood has long lacked an event - or even a string of smaller ones - that brings carloads of visitors to town.

The city hopes to change that through a newly created events committee.

"It's good for fellowship and good for people to get to know their neighbors," said Sheri Millwood, the committee chairwoman.

Several years ago, the city held a Christmas event in which Santa Claus would light the town tree and church choirs would sing.

"We did that for a number of years and kind of got off course with it," Millwood said. "We brought it back last year and it was just hugely successful."

The city went on to form the events committee, which comprises residents from different areas of town. The group held its first meeting June 2.

"What we have decided to do is have a small number of events this year and do them really, really well, and then expand next year," Millwood said.

"One thing we did decide to not try to attempt this year is a fall festival. We thought that would be just too aggressive. That's a huge undertaking."

The city is looking at holding a fall festival in September or October 2011, "but those plans are tentative and very sketchy at this point," Millwood said.

Oakwood held a stream and road cleanup May 22 and has nailed down the Lanierland Amateur Radio Club's "Bringin Home The Bacon" 5-kilometer run, set for 9 a.m. Nov. 13.

"We've got a very nice course set up around the downtown area," said Zach Loggins, a club member helping out with the event.

The city also has teamed up with the Georgia Mountains YMCA, which runs the city pool off Railroad Street, on several programs, including family fun nights, swimming lessons and water aerobics classes.

"Movie in the Park" is set for Saturday at the city park next to the pool.

"There'll be a block party at the pool and then a celebration of the Fourth of July with some sparklers," Millwood said.

Other events that could happen this year are a car show and bicycle race.

The annual Christmas tree lighting is set for Dec. 3, with Santa arriving "hopefully by fire truck, and he'll push the big red button and all the lights will go on," Millwood said.

"One of the things the events committee has decided to do is bring in groups ... that will sponsor and be in charge of events," she said. "And the city will help them ... in any way that it can.

"We'll provide city resources, maybe the police department to block off roads or whatever is necessary."

The desired result is that events will be held annually and draw large crowds.

"We hope (they) will start this year and grow and grow into something even as aggressive as Mule Camp," Millwood said.

Loggins, 20, a West Hall High School graduate and North Georgia College & State University student, said he supports the city's efforts to stir up more events and create more of a buzz within and about the town.

"I'm very excited about the stuff they're trying to do and just trying to get the community involved," he said.