LibFestVideo from Saturday's festvities
Friday2Part 2 of Friday night's festivities.
Friday1First of two videos for Friday night's festivities
Liberty Fest equaled Liberty fun for the thousands of participants who took part in the two-day event enjoying food, activities, music and fireworks.
Friday night’s slight rain apparently didn’t hamper the festivities as revelers enjoyed tasting treats offered by the eateries, danced in the streets and had the opportunity to pick the car or motorcycle of their choice for top awards.
While Friday’s activities took place at Bradwell Park in downtown Hinesville, Saturday’s event featured live music, a variety of activities and breathtaking scenery along Sunbury’s marshy coast.
In addition, participants got an opportunity to learn about the diverse history of Liberty County and the Historic Liberty Trail through re-enactors from Fort Morris and Seabrook Village. The festival also hosted a pageant where they crowned a Miss Liberty Fest, Shana Brown, and Miss Teen Liberty Fest, Molly Zechman. Both were out with the crowds at each day’s events, and posing for photos with people.
“If we add up Friday night and Saturday, I would say we had 2,500-3,000 people attend the event this weekend,” Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kenny Smiley said. “We were hoping to reach that goal of attendance. It shows us that we need this community event and that people want it.”
While the event drew in crowds from around the community, it also attracted the attention of a few people from outside the local area.
Smiley said he met a couple from Minnesota while attending a software-training forum last week in Jekyll Island.
“Ward Thompson runs a software company that is used by many chambers. We use his software at our chamber. While we were at the forum, we began talking about the Liberty Fest event and he said he would like to come and see it. I thought he was just joking but he and his wife, Jill, cancelled their flight back home, booked a room at a hotel in Hinesville and went to the event on Saturday and enjoyed themselves,” Smiley said.
Drawing in large crowds of locals and extending the reach to tourists who want to visit the area and learn about the historical sites and activities that Liberty County has to offer is a primary goal.
Smiley said the current location of the event at Sunbury provides an opportunity to showcase Liberty’s coast and having the fireworks display over the water adds a degree of ambiance. But Smiley and the event committee hope to find a permanent home for the event, a venue that can accommodate the festival’s anticipated growing crowds for many years.
“We want this festival to be as well known as the Seafood Festival held annually in Richmond Hill,” Smiley said. “With that in mind, we want to find a permanent location that this festival can call home.”
Smiley talked about some of the immediate feedback from the community regarding the success of the event and how to prepare for next year’s Liberty Fest.
“Everyone enjoyed all the headline bands that performed on stage and everyone loved the fireworks. We had around 25 food vendors this year that were all good and many have told me they want to come back next year wherever we are located. We had many things for the children to enjoy but are looking at increasing the amount of rides and activities that children can participate in,” he said.
Smiley said he's thankful for the many volunteers who devoted their time the entire weekend and said without them and the sponsors the event may not have been as successful.
“Our budget this year was many times more than last year and that is due to the generosity of sponsors and presenters like Target, Joelyn Pirkle, Cumulus Broadcasting, the city of Flemington, the Coastal Courier, Coastal Communications, A Plus Alarm technology, Coastal Electric Cooperative, The Heritage Bank and many others,” he said.
Smiley and the event committee are planning to meet next week to discuss what went right and what went wrong as they begin the process of planning for a bigger and better event next year.
“We want to meet while everything is still fresh in our minds. Putting together an event like this one is a lot of work and just as soon as it ends you must plan for the next one. It does take a lot of time, effort and execution to make it successful,” Smiley said.
Liberty Fest winners
Trout: First, John Rogers, $500; second, Allen Fillingame, $250 and third, Johnnie Reddish, $150.
Calcutta: Steve Wright, $300
Lady angler: Candice Smith, $150
Junior angler: Dustin Rountree, $100
First place, Ryan Hilliard and Pilar Odria Jr.; second, Courtney Madox, Grace Feagm and Levi Mixon; third, Christina Woody, Daniel Brooks, Bunnie Braun, Sam Feagm and Desiree Talbot
Car show results (Top 10)
1. Dodge Magnum, Mark Swindall
2. Ford Coupe, Ronald Smith
3. Chevy Avalanche, Slim Barton
4. Honda Goldwing, Larry Urbin
5. Shelby GT 500, Joel Mock
6. Ford Victoria, Charles Stafford
7. Dodge Chargerm Chris Scholar
8. Chevy Post, Ron Stover
9. Pontiac GTO, Mark Bradley
10. Ford SVT Cobra, Maria Pruden
See more winners listed in Friday's Coastal Courier.