The festival has grown and evolved since its first year, said Wes Tallon, the county’s director of communications and community relations.
“It started off in 2003 as a movie on the side of the courthouse in the first year, preceded by a band, for four Saturday nights in September,” he said. “Each year I have added features, and the festival portion started in 2004.”
Tallon added, “Its purpose was — and is now — simply to bring the community together.”
Conservative attendance estimates from last year were 15,000 visitors each Saturday.
The first Saturday, on Sept. 22, features everyday heroes — law enforcement, firemen, EMTs/paramedics, E911 operators, active military, reserves, veterans and teachers.
It also promises a Touch-a-Truck experience, featuring vehicles and equipment from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Douglas County Fire/EMS Department, Douglasville Police Department, U.S. Marines and other military and law enforcement agencies.
The second festival, to be held Sept. 29, has been designated Family Day and Craftsman and Farmer’s Market Day.
A second Touch-a-Truck Day will feature NASCAR vehicles and the Pine Mountain Gold Mine covered wagon, Tallon said.
The events begin at 11:45 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. both days, and are held at the Douglas County Courthouse campus at 8700 Hospital Drive.
A presentation of colors and the National Anthem kicks off the festival both days, followed by a series of performances by school choruses, church choirs, dance exhibitions, karate demonstrations and Douglas County Sheriff’s K9 Unit demonstration from noon to 5:45 p.m.
At 8 p.m., a family-friendly movie will be shown on the outdoor movie screen.
Each day features over 100 vendors and exhibitors representing a cross-section of the Douglas County community, Tallon said.
Everything from pony rides to hearing and vision screenings will be offered from the eclectic group of participants.
What is a festival without food? Visitors can select from an assortment of delicious fare, including pizza, ice cream, biscuits, barbecue, chicken sandwiches and more.
The event is free, but privately-sponsored activities may charge a nominal fee, Tallon said.
Parking is available in the courthouse parking lots, Woodie Fite Senior Center parking lots, the county transportation center and neighboring businesses that are closed on Saturdays.
There will be free shuttle service from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to bring visitors from these parking lots to the festival grounds.
The A Gift of Love local charity will be accepting donations of jars of peanut butter, cans of soup or other non-perishable staples for the nonprofit’s school food backpack program during both days.
For more information, visit www.celebratedouglascounty.com.