By Joel Hall
The City of Lovejoy is preparing to host its most ambitious public gathering to date: a four-day carnival highlighted by a parade, a vehicle show, a step show, and a music festival.
The Lovejoy Autumn Festival will take place at the Gerald Matthews Sports Complex from Thursday, Sept. 11, to Sunday, Sept. 14. In addition to four days of carnival rides, food vendors, and games, Saturday, Sept. 13 will be reserved for a variety of events coordinated by the city.
Rebekah Holland, a Lovejoy city council member, said this year's festival is an expansion of last year's festival, which was primarily a Halloween event.
"We had a Lovejoy Festival last year, but it was done in October to give children a safe place to get their trick-or-treat candy," said Holland. "This year, we wanted to make it a little larger. Since it was at City Hall, we decided to move it outdoors, so more people from the community would know about it."
The carnival, operated by JCJ Amusements of Gibsonton, Fla., will operate on next Thursday and Friday from 5 to11 p.m., next Saturday from 10 a.m., to 11 p.m., and next Sunday from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m.
Among the amenities featured will be a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and stalls for funnel cakes and cotton candy.
Saturday will be the highlight of the festival, with a parade starting at 11 a.m. Led by the Lovejoy High School marching band, city officials, business owners, and other members of the community will take a 30-45 minute march around the park property. From 12 to 3 p.m., a vehicle show will take place, where locals can show off their custom cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
From 3 to 4 p.m., a step show exhibition will feature step teams from local high schools and colleges. From 6 to 11 p.m., the evening will conclude with an outdoor music festival.
The performances will range from dance and jazz, to gospel music. Featured acts include: Dance Revelations, an Atlanta-based dance troop; Peaceful Harmony, a Clayton County-based a cappella group; and the Ken Magness Band, a gospel band based at Panhandle Baptist Church.
Marci Fluellyn, a Lovejoy city council member and the events main organizer, said the festival is filling a "void," which has existed in the past, in regard to city-wide event planning.
"The City of Lovejoy is historically a city that has not put events on for the city," said Fluellyn. "With the new city council members on board, we definitely felt like there needed to be a connection ... we believe we are doing a good job of that.
"[The Festival] is definitely bringing tourism to the City of Lovejoy, but also giving citizens an event that they can look forward to every year," said Fluellyn. "We'll continue to expand the event each year, until it becomes a landmark for our area."
The Gerald Matthews Sports Complex is located at 1935 McDonough Road in Hampton. For more information, contact Joyce Maddox, Lovejoy City Hall secretary, at (770) 471-2304.