SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The annual Social Circle Friendship Festival will be extra festive this year, as the town marks its 180th birthday.
The free festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 in downtown Social Circle.
The festival drew 4,000 people last year, said volunteer Mary Cross, an impressive feat since the town has a population of less than 5,000. Each year the festival has a theme and this year's theme is, appropriately, "Happy Birthday Social Circle."
The event gets under way at 9 a.m. and the kickoff parade through downtown starts at 10 a.m. Pet owners are invited to register their pets to participate in the parade and dress them in costumes evoking the "Happy Birthday" theme, with the best dressed pet to win a prize. Mayor Hal Dally will give an official welcome at 11 a.m.
The remainder of the day, revelers can enjoy entertainment from a variety of acts, including cloggers and musicians performing everything from Christian to classic rock tunes. Up and coming country music singer Luke Pilgrim of Cleveland, Ga,. will perform at 2 p.m., and, given that Pilgrim has a single called "Sweet Tea," there will be a chance for a fan to win a backstage pass to have sweet tea and cookies with him.
Other raffles include a Big Green Egg BBQ grill and helicopter rides. There is no cost to enter any raffles, but the winner must be present to claim the prize.
Helicopter rides are also available for purchase from BMW Aviation. Pilot Bruce A. Whitley, a former U.S. Army aviator with more than 4,000 hours of flight experience, will provide 10-minute sightseeing tours featuring Alcovy Mountain, Lake Varner, the Atlanta skyline and Stone Mountain. The cost is $35 per person or $100 for a group of four.
There will be approximately 90 vendors and artists with booths set up downtown, and plenty of food for sale. Stanton Memorial Library, within walking distance, will be hosting a used book sale during the festival as well.
"People need to come and walk through our town. Most of the buildings downtown are being painted right now, a new paint job. We're giving the town a facelift," Cross said.
The festival is sponsored by Social Circle's Better Hometown Program.
In other news, the Better Hometown Program is hosting a golf tournament at Hard Labor Creek on Friday, Oct. 19. The tournament is a fundraiser for the Junior Ambassador Program, which provides leadership training for juniors and seniors in high school. If enough funds are raised, some students in the program will be awarded scholarships. Check-in and lunch begins at 11 a.m. and the shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m. Registration is $75 per player and $300 per foursome. Prizes will be awarded for first and second place, the longest drive and closest to pin. To register, visit socialcirclegaBHT.com or call 770-464-1866.