You can see more photos from the festival by clicking here.
Despite rain throughout the day, the 34th annual Long County Wildlife Festival took place Saturday.
Emcee Charlie Smith welcomed all, and A New Beginning Church Pastor Tom Gardner opened the day with a prayer. Long County High School student Elijah Caines led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the Blue Tide band playing the national anthem.
KIDZ Etc. spokesperson Debbie Gaitten introduced to the crowd this year’s pageant winners: Bria Huffman, who was named the junior miss queen, and Tenley Huffman, who was named the overall queen in the children’s division.
Festival CEO Becky Fowler then presented a plaque to this year’s Citizen of the Year, Franklin “Bo” Dunham. Fowler said Dunham is an asset in many ways to the festival and is always there to help. She said he was of great assistance in helping build the area where the mud bogs take place on the festival grounds.
Dunham, a lifelong resident of Long County, was obviously touched by receiving the award and told the crowd he was very thankful for being chosen. Also attending the ceremony were his wife, Brandy, and five children, Colton, Dillon, Bryson, Kaitlyn and Kayla.
“It feels really good receiving this. I really appreciate what Becky and everyone else does with the festival,” Dunham said.
This year’s festival featured plenty of activities, food and crafts for people of all ages. Activities included pony rides, a children’s catfish “pond,” BB-gun range, dunking booth, kids’ play land and pig chase. There also was plenty of live entertainment, including the Erin Houston Dancers and the Prison Cloggers.
This year appeared to have even more crafts than in the past. Some of the items available included handcrafted woodwork, cane syrup and homemade quilts.
Festival supporter Tony Fowler said the first festival took place in 1982 and was organized by a group of Long County farmers. He said that even though the event started small with a few churches and civic groups participating, it has grown into a day that is looked forward to by everyone in the area.
Fowler said the land where the festival is now held was purchased in 1989 to establish a fixed site for the community. He said that the festival is nonprofit and that after paying for expenses, all of the money raised goes back to the community.