Hinesville Downtown Partners, a loose coalition of downtown businesses and city and county leaders, met Friday morning to discuss plans for upcoming public events.
Discussions were led by Vicki Davis, executive director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority; Krystal Hart, Hinesville public-relations manager; and Leah Poole, CEO of both the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and the Liberty County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and chairwoman of the Hinesville Area Arts Council.
Local businesses participating in Friday’s meeting included RTS Homes LLC, Geo-Vista Credit Union, Century Link, The Heritage Bank and Jeff’s Candy Kitchen.
“This is the time when we need to get started talking about the fall and the holidays,” said Davis, who discussed upcoming events such as the UnityFest 2013, a community praise celebration at Bryant Commons from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 14.
The next major event after that is Blues & BBQ, set for 4-11:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in downtown Hinesville. The event features a barbecue competition as well as sweet tea and sidewalk chalk art contests. The live-music this year features headliner Swamp Cabbage, Soul Gravy and 3rd Class Citizens.
Most of Friday’s discussion focused on the fifth annual Scarecrow Stroll & Beggars Night, set for Oct. 25 in Bradwell Park and the surrounding area. Children’s events run from 4-6 p.m., and select activities run from 6-10 p.m.
Davis reminded everyone preparing candy bags for trick-or-treaters that they need a minimum of 1,000 bags. She said the Hinesville Police Department estimated as many as 20,000 children and adults attended last year’s Stroll.
HDDA program assistant Katrina Barrow said Hinesville’s Inspirations Performance Studio is hosting Thriller and zombie-walk performance practice twice a week starting Aug. 19. Those interested in participating can call 877-4332.
“This year, we want to have more scarecrows than ever,” Davis said, while confirming with Poole there is space for 64 free booths. “I think it’s a neat way to promote your business.”
Davis and Poole agreed more security will be needed this year due to the expectation of larger crowds. They also said they don’t want to allow the event to spread too far due to the security issues. Davis suggested the city close Main Street and its direct-access streets. She added, though, that they also need to allow access to parking lots.
Hart said the city’s geographic-information systems department is putting together interactive maps that visitors can use on smartphones to determine where activities are taking place. Poole said the chamber would look into providing free bags for candy and other items. She added that the bags would help reduce the litter problem and could be bar-coded with the GIS map information.
Davis said a greater effort needs to be made this year to avoid bottlenecks. She said the long lines at some stations might be prevented by not having the most popular booths too close to each other. Everyone agreed the fall festivals held last year by local churches were a great addition to the city event and hoped to see a repeat this year.
Another event discussed was the Veterans Salute on Nov. 16. Davis said the event will begin with the Veterans Day parade and then move onto Bryant Commons for activities and live entertainment. The Veterans Salute is dual purpose, she said, as it is a celebration of active-duty military and veterans and a fundraiser for a planned Veterans Memorial Walk to be built at Bryant Commons.
The annual Christmas in the Park and Christmas Parade are scheduled for Dec. 2 and Dec. 6, respectively. Evanne Floyd, CVB program assistant, pointed out this is the first time in seven years that all 3rd Infantry Division soldiers will be home to attend the parade, which this year will have a patriotic theme.
Other topics discussed were suggestions for speakers and workshops and a proposal for a downtown cleanup. Davis proposed having a walk-through assessment by downtown business owners and letting the HDDA determine what can be done to eliminate trash and cigarette butts on the streets in downtown Hinesville.
For more information, call 877-4332 or go to www.hinesvilledowntown.com.