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LibertyFest makes its come back
Georgia Power area manager Robert Stokes shows Garrett Sydnor how to hold a fishing pole Saturday during a fishing derby at LibertyFest. - photo by Photo by Kenny Smiley
After taking a year off, LibertyFest returned Friday and Saturday, bigger and better than ever. The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s banner festival opened at a new venue, Bryant Commons on Highway 84, and offered community members an action-packed weekend of coastal culture and history.
The event was put on hold last year because of poor economic conditions and an inability  to secure a location that would accommodate the number of people and vendors expected to attend the two-day event, according to Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kenny Smiley.
“Last year, we needed to rebuild and restructure a little bit and we hope we’ve found a new permanent home in Bryant Commons,” Smiley said.
The LibertyFest organizer said Bryant Commons was an ideal location.
“There is 20 beautiful acres right here with ponds and fields and beautiful landscape and we feel this is a great home for Liberty Fest,” he said.
The festival had activities for attendees of all ages. Children played in a bounce house and turned somersaults on a bungee ride.
Georgia Power hosted a fishing derby for children on Saturday and festivalgoers dined on funnel cakes, barbecue, Greek food and a variety of beverages.
The world-famous Disc-Connected K9’s wowed the crowd with their talented dogs and The Acoustic Rhythms jammed out all night Friday and opened for the Second Chance Band who rocked the crowd Saturday evening.
“They are always a crowd favorite so we were very glad to have them back,” Smiley said about the Disc-connected K9’s who performed at the 2008 Liberty Fest.
This is major,” Daffani Eller, the lead vocalist of the Acoustic Rhythms said. “This is one of the biggest events we’ve done.
The Midway native said her group was fortunate and was able to play all night Friday after another group had to cancel their performance.
“That blew us all out of the water,” she said about the opportunity to extend their playing time. “The doors are open and the sky is the limit.”
The event concluded with a stunning fireworks display.
“We didn’t want to go a whole other year without Liberty Fest and getting that name out there,” Smiley said. “We feel this festival is so important to Liberty County.”
Smiley said Liberty Fest was an opportunity to showcase what the county has to offer in the way of culture, history and the people that call Liberty County home.
“To bring everybody together for a fun family event especially during times like these, where our soldiers are deployed and the economy is down a little bit, it’s a way to get everybody’s mind off of things and relax,” he said.
With the success of this year’s Liberty Fest, which was presented by Auto Super Center, Smiley thinks the venue change will be permanent.
“We have the City of Hinesville behind us, the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, the Joint Management Board and Mayor (Jim) Thomas has told us time and time again they want this. So we are happy to oblige,” he said. “We have a great bunch of volunteers and a great staff at the chamber and with Leah Poole and Susan McCorkle at the helm of this committee and Robert Stokes backing them you can’t go wrong and this is going to be a great event. We are glad to pack this place.”
Circulating among the crowd of attendees and vendors were Liberty County Sheriff candidates Steve Sikes and Bobby Ryon.
Both said Liberty Fest was the perfect opportunity to connect with the community and receive the folks’ thought and ideas.
Read Wednesday’s Coastal Courier to see what Ryon and Sikes think about Liberty Fest, their campaign and the importance of staying in touch with this community.

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