Andrew Jamil Jones, right, takes Inaiyah Washington, 10, on a stroll atop a quarter horse named T-Rex during Lovejoy's annual fall festival Saturday. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
LOVEJOY — Music sounded across the park, where children laughed and played in the bright sunshine.
“I love it,” said Calvin Smith of Atlanta, the sounds clashing around him.
Smith participates in Lovejoy’s fall festival each year. He helped set up the concert stage this year, working for True Production out of Norcross.
“I just love the excitement, the people, the food,” he said. “Everything is great. It’s like one big family. You don’t have that at every venue.”
This is the seventh year the city has hosted a fall festival, which has grown since its inception, said event organizer Kaycia Rhone.
“We’re always looking to grow it,” said Rhone. “I think space is the issue as far as growing (the event).”
An estimated 2,000 people attend event each year at Mayor’s Park downtown.
Rhone said the city’s entire staff pitched in to help coordinate the event, which included 56 vendors and several music acts.
The festival is billed as a family-friendly venue with food, games, arts and crafts and live music entertainment.
“It’s a free event that they can come out and enjoy,” said Rhone. “It’s a chance for local businesses to come out and show what services they offer. If nothing else, it’s a good opportunity for families to come out and enjoy the atmosphere.”
Derrick Mitchell is owner of Cowboy Up Productions in Ellenwood. He brought two quarter horses, Queen Poodle and T-Rex, and provided rides to children during the day.
Herman McCall sold produce at the festival, where his homegrown peaches, bananas and watermelon were popular.
McCall has been growing for 16 years. He owns Herman’s Produce and regularly sets up shop at the curb market downtown.
David Hunt set up a tent near McCall. Hunt is the residential development manager at Waste Industries in Stockbridge.
He gave out reusable grocery bags laid out on a table. He said the bags were recycled from plastic bags, and festival-goers had their pick of them.
Waste Industries has a contract to provide trash removal services in the city. The company also provides recycle bins for public recycling at city hall, 2296 Talmadge Road.
Hunt said he enjoys attending the festivals each year.
“This is a great event,” he said. “Bobby and his staff, the council and Kaycia do a great job of putting this together.”
The smell of sugary treats wafted from Janice Walker’s tent. She owns Cakes by Jan, a business she describes as her “hobby.”
Walker managed to bake several cakes and dozens of smaller treats from two ovens out of her Tucker home for Saturday’s festival.
Paul Thibodeaux is a familiar face at Mayor’s Park.
He is pastor at Sacred Praise United Methodist Church of Lovejoy, whose congregation regularly contributes to city-sponsored events such as this summer’s block party series.
“We love to support the city’s events,” said Thibodeaux.
Margaret Peterson happened upon the festival with her father and her children.
“We’re just looking for something to do on this beautiful day,” said Peterson, with her two-year-old son, Michael, in her shadow.
The younger children got a thrill from Peter Hart and his colorful marionette show.
Hart, who owns Peter Hart/Atlanta Puppet, has performed 32 years in puppetry theatre. Children sat in the shade of a large tree as they watched his shows.
The festival was topped off by electric violinist Ken Ford, also known as the King of Strings, who returned to headline the festival’s Saturday night concert.