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Riding the rails to fun
Lula celebrates its past with annual festival
North Georgia Stars baton twirlers, representing the Gainesville and Hall County area, participate Saturday in a parade as part of the annual Railroad Days Festival in Lula. The family-friendly event included food, vendors, crafts and live entertainment. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Lula was alive with the sounds of a freight train and the smell of funnel cakes Saturday as it celebrated the 36th annual Railroad Days Festival.

Festivalgoers lined the street that runs parallel to the railroad track to watch the Railroad Days parade make its way through the town and past Lula’s train depot.

Local pride was put on display with lifelong resident and poet laureate Ollie Bryson as this year’s Grand Marshal. Banks County and East Hall high school marching bands performed in the parade.

People spent the rest of the day watching festival entertainment, which included baton twirlers and gospel, bluegrass, country and rock musical acts. Visitors strolled the park filled with food vendors and arts and crafts merchants.

Dennis Bergin, city manager for Lula, said the Railroad Days Festival is a pretty unique feature of the town.

“It’s something that you’re not going to find many places anymore,” he said. “It’s kind of a ‘home and apple pie’ kind of deal.”

There was a little something for everyone as even children were able to participate in activities that included pony rides, slides and a bounce house.

Jean Worley, a 50-year resident of Lula, attended with her granddaughters.

“I believe this is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen here,” she said as she looked around the park.

“The food is my favorite part. I look forward to coming,” Worley’s granddaughter, Karlie White, 11, said of the festival.

The events surrounding the festival were a good time for all, and as Bergin noted, “It takes you back to a time gone past.”

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