By Curt Yeomans
Henry David Thoreau, in his book, "Walden," talked about his experiences living in a rural setting, saying at one point that he came and went "with a strange liberty in nature, a part of herself."
State Rep. Glenn Baker (D-Jonesboro) and Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson, along with officials from the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, will hold the first annual Festival and Barbecue Competition next month to encourage local residents to find their own connection with nature.
"The intent, quite simply, is to get kids outside and enjoying nature more," Edmondson said.
The Festival and Barbecue Competition, which is designed to support Baker and Edmondson's Georgia "Kids Outdoors" Initiative, will take place on Nov. 7, from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., at Clayton County International Park, 2300 Ga. Hwy. 138, in Jonesboro. The event is free.
Baker said the initiative promotes 10 experiences outlined in the Georgia Recreation and Park Association, Inc.'s Georgia children's Outdoor Bill of Rights.
In its bill of rights, the Georgia Recreation and Park Association, Inc., states that every child in Georgia should have an opportunity to discover the state's history, "celebrate their heritage," splash in water, play in a safe place, go camping, go exploring in nature, learn how to swim, play on an athletic team, walk, bike or hike on a trail, and, catch a fish.
"This will show parents that we care about their kids, and that we care about their health, by allowing them to experience things in nature," Baker said.
Edmondson said money raised through the festival will go to outdoors scholarships. The money will be raised through corporate sponsorships, food sales during the festival, and entry fees in the barbecue competition. Clayton County Parks and Recreation Marketing and Sales Manager Amy Keeney said the scholarships will be used to pay for children's participation in the department's summer programs.
Recipients of the scholarships will be chosen through an essay competition, Keeney said.
During the festival, The Clayton County Cooperative Extension office's 4-H chapter is scheduled to present programs on gardening, planting, and geology, according to information at www.kidsoutdoorsga.org/. The web site also notes that representatives from the Morrow-based Reynolds Nature Preserve will give presentations on snakes, fishing, and hiking.
Edmondson said as many as 50 youngsters from the Boy Scouts of America's Atlanta Area Council's Tara District, which includes troops in Clayton County, are scheduled to camp out overnight at the festival on the evening of Friday, Nov. 6, and do camping demonstrations for festival attendees the following day.
Edmondson also said chorus groups from several Clayton County schools are scheduled to perform during the festival as well. In addition to the festival events, there is also the barbecue competition in the categories of Best Seafood; Best Ribs; Best Chicken; Best Brunswick Stew; Best Barbecue Sauce, and Best Beach/Patio Party.
The entry fee for the seafood, ribs and chicken categories is $50 per entry. The entry fee for the Brunswick stew and barbecue sauce categories is $25 per entry. There is no entry fee for the beach/patio party category. Applications may be obtained from the festival's web site. For more details, call Clayton County Parks and Recreation at (770) 477-376,
On the Net:
Festival and Barbecue Competition: http://www.kidsoutdoorsga.org/