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Forest Park hosts free spring festival

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Arts and crafts vendors, public safety officials, and a variety of cultural performers will entertain the public during Forest Park's free "Swing into Spring" Festival.

The celebration, a tradition nearly two decades old, will take place on Saturday, May 2, from 10:30 a.m., to 6 p.m., at Starr Park.

According to Sharon Smith, deputy director of recreation for the city, the event has been held, on and off, for the last 18 years. She said that this year, more than 60 vendors will host games, sell foods and crafts, and provide residents with valuable safety-and public-aid information.

"It's a community event, where everyone in the community can enjoy a day in the park," Smith said. "We have done real well with the festival [in the past]. Throughout the day, we may have 1,500 to 2,000 people to come through the park. It's also a good way for people to get general information about things going on in their community."

Smith said that the food, as well as the entertainment scheduled throughout the day, will reflect Forest Park's ethnically-diverse community.

The culinary samplings for sale will include items from the American South, Korea, and Mexico. Among the ethnic foods offered will be: Homemade soda, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, cakes, brownies, pies, cobblers, funnel cakes, ice cream, egg rolls, chicken fried rice, Korean barbecue, barbecue ribs, fish, boiled peanuts, pizza, and Italian meatball sandwiches.

Festival participants will also be able to enjoy performances by various local artists, including: The Silver Team Steppers, a seniors line dancing group; Loving Heart, a traditional Korean drum line group; Mariachi Espuelas de America, a local Mexican mariachi band; Home Fine Arts Connection, a youth jazz band; A Touch of Class, an adult jazz band; and Mighty Zion Trumpets of Macon, a gospel group.

The Chien Hong School of Kung Fu in Atlanta will also perform a martial arts demonstration, and the Forest Park Fire Department will be on hand with its mobile "Smoke House" to teach people about fire safety.

"We have a diverse population, and we try to have different types of entertainment for everybody," Smith said. "I think it brings the community together. You get to see a little bit of different cultures."

Forest Park Mayor Corine Deyton said that in the past, the event has attracted visitors from throughout the metro Atlanta area. "We try to have something for everybody, from our youth to our seniors," Deyton said. "It's going to be pretty festive. When you drive around this park, you will see tags from Fulton and DeKalb counties. When we've had bad weather, and people have been closed in, they are all looking forward to getting out."

Forest Park Recreation and Leisure Services is approving vendors for the festival. For more information, call (404) 363-2908.