By Valerie Baldowski
The Hampton business community is putting together its annual fund-raiser. The 13th annual Bear Creek Festival is scheduled for Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sept. 26, from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m.
The festival is sponsored by the Hampton Business and Merchants Association, and activities will be centered around Hampton Elementary School, located at 10 Central Avenue.
A portion of the money raised will benefit Haven House, and the new Fortson branch library, according to Mary Ann Mitcham, a Hampton City Council member and one of the festival organizers.
The event draws a large number of vendors, she said, usually between 90 and 100. Some of the booths will sell crafts, wind chimes, and jewelry, she said. There will also be children's games and plenty of food, she added.
The Hampton Masonic Lodge will, once again this year, set up its "Ident-a-Kid" booth, where children can be fingerprinted, and a sample of their DNA can be taken. The identification kits are free, said Mitcham. Last year, the booth processed 250 children, she said.
The annual festival is popular, and Mitcham said about 10,000 people turn out each year for the two-day event. "It's a community effort. Everybody gets involved, and everybody enjoys it," she said.
A parade is scheduled for Saturday, at 9 a.m., said Britt Evans, Hampton Business and Merchants Association vice president and chairman of the festival. The march will begin at Hampton Elementary, go through downtown, and end at McBrayer City Park, across from the school, Evans said.
Music will be provided both days of the festival. On Saturday, Sept. 25, the Hampton First Baptist Church praise band is scheduled to play at 11:45 a.m., and the Redeemed Biker Church praise band is scheduled for 4 p.m., he said.
"Grafted by Grace," a group out of Fort Valley, which played at last year's festival, will return this year. The group is scheduled to play at 2 p.m., said Evans.
Madelyn Patterson is scheduled to play her brand of country music on Saturday, at 12:45 p.m., and again on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 12:30 p.m. A metro Atlanta group called, "85 South," is scheduled to perform on Sunday, at 2 p.m., he said.
On Sunday, an antique car show will be held at the park ,from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., as part of the festival. Trophies will be given for Best In Show, Most Original, and in other categories, continued Evans.
Also during the festival, Brian Brakefield, a local veteran, will sell peanuts to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Based out of Jacksonville, Fla., the non-profit organization was founded in 2003 by a group of veterans, who mobilized to help injured servicemen and women.
Brakefield served in the Georgia National Guard, from 1994 to 2004, and was a Clayton County police officer, from 2000 to 2005.
He said he hopes to collect at least $500, and said his fund-raising efforts are a way for him to give back to his fellow colleagues.
"Just from my personal experience, I know that public service is a calling, not a job, " added Brakefield, who is now an insurance agent in Hampton. "They [soldiers] are under-compensated, and often overlooked."
The annual festival was originally called the Hampton Founders Day Festival, said Sharon Tarpley, Hampton Business and Merchants Association president. The second year, the merchants took on the event, and made it an annual project, Tarpley said.
She said the festival came by its current name in 2007. "Hampton used to be Bear Creek," added Tarpley. "We had some surveyors working, and they saw a bear crossing the creek. That's how it [the festival] became Bear Creek."
For more information, call (770) 946-5490.