By Elaine Rackley
The City of Hampton is announcing the onset of spring by hosting its "3rd Annual Yellow Pollen Street Festival," on Saturday.
Making its debut as a part of the event is the "Haulin' from Pollen" 5K & 1 mile Fun Run. It is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. "We are doing this race, because, basically, to start a tradition," said Hampton Human Resources Director Tiffany Baxter.
Awards will be presented to "Best Over All" male and female of each age category. The age categories are: 19 and under; 20 to 29; 30 to 39; 40 to 49; and 50 and above.
Hampton police officers will block off McDonough and Oak streets to enable people to stroll past vendors stationed on East Main Street, where the "Yellow Pollen Street Festival" will be held. It will begin at 10 a.m., and end at 5 p.m.
Hampton City Councilman Arley Lowe is credited with initiating the annual event.
"I kidded around about it for a couple of years," said Lowe, who is also a board member of the Hampton Downtown Development Authority. "I said, maybe we should have a pollen festival in the spring. What says spring better in Georgia than yellow pollen? A couple of weeks from now, everything will be covered [in] yellow," he said, Thursday.
"It brings people downtown, so we can showcase our city," said Lowe. "It makes people aware of Downtown Hampton, what we have to offer and the improvements we have made."
The festival is co-sponsored by the Hampton Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the city's Mainstreet Program, as a fund-raiser to benefit the city. "The city's Downtown Development Authority gives facade grants to improve the downtown district," said Lowe, giving an example of how the city spends the funds to upgrade the area.
There are several activities scheduled during the festival, such as pony rides, bungee jumping, and music provided by a DJ. The Henry County Fire Department will bring a truck and give away fire hats to children. The Atlanta Motor Speedway is providing a NASCAR pace car.
Organizers of the event said they are predicting that 2,000 people will attend this year. If they are accurate, the attendance would surpass that in previous years. The highest, so far, was 1,800, according to Lowe.
While Lowe has been the event's spokesman, he noted that Candy Franklin (Hampton Main Street Director) and Jan Lowe, are its organizers.
The festival will feature 50 vendors, selling a variety of food, merchandise and services, including hand-made jewelry, candles, and arts & crafts, said Jan Lowe, the festival's vendor coordinator.
"We will have honey from Wally Bees Honey," she said. "The ABC Montessori School is bringing a Bee Condo, made by the students," added Franklin.
A group of 42 runners had registered for the races on Thursday, according to Pat Watson, Hampton's deputy clerk. The youngest registered runner is 11, and the oldest is 75. The 5K run is actually 3.1 miles, said Watson.
Registration for the 1 mile Fun Run and the 5K race will continue until one hour prior to the start of the races. The cost to register for the races is $20 in advance and $25 the day of the race. The 1 mile run will begin at 8 a.m., and the 5K race will begin at 8:30 a.m., in McBrayer Park, located at 10 Central Ave.
Proceeds from the races will be donated to the Bear Creek Association to support arts and literacy programs in Henry County.