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Wildlife Festival offers food, family fun
Long County/Ludowici firefighter Tyler Hall was no match for the mechanical bull. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
A large crowd gathered beneath a sunny sky Saturday in Long County to enjoy games, food and music during the annual Wildlife Festival.
The festival was created in 1982 to help local churches and other nonprofits raise money while encouraging community members to spend time and mingle with their neighbors.
Attendees this year tried their hands at arts and crafts, a turkey shoot and a bow-and-arrow range. Children played in the kids’ corner, took train and pony rides and toured a fire safety house. And the pig chase had little ones running around a pig pen, hamming it up as pigs squirmed and squealed. Anglers took advantage of the catfish pond, and festival-goers of all ages enjoyed live music.
A mechanical bull ride debuted at this year’s festival, tempting old-timers to dust off their boots and hang onto their hats. Many found that eight seconds felt even longer at 40 years old than it did when they were 20. A few teens and young adults challenged the bull, only to be tossed on their backsides.
Jerome Williams took his two daughters, Deandra, 7, and Alexandra, 5, to the festival. The girls agreed they had the most fun riding ponies and learning to shoot a bow and arrow.
Attendee Bob Hefley said he was happy to see so many friends and family members in one place. “I’ll tell you the truth, the good thing about this day is it brings out cousins and friends and people from all over area and they are all in one place. And to get to see each other … they may have been busy all year, but everyone comes out here and they run into each other.”
This year’s Long County Citizen of the Year Award went to the late Bobby Simmons who died this past year. Simmons’ wife, Lillian Simmons, accepted the award in his place.
After wearing themselves out with games and rides, attendees dined on fried fish and shrimp, barbecue and sausage dogs.
Brandi Dunham enjoyed the day with her family. “The Wildlife Festival is just a good way to come out and show your support for the community, but this year it looks like there are even more people from other counties out here, too, and that’s great,” she said.

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