Organizers expect attendance this year to top 70,000 people over the course of the two-day event, co-sponsored by the city of Kennesaw and Kennesaw Business Association. The festival, presented by Superior Plumbing, will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday on Main Street.
Admission to the public is free.
The festival opens 9:30 a.m. Saturday with a parade starting at Adams Park and continuing down Main Street through downtown. It’ll feature Allatoona, Kennesaw Mountain and North Cobb high school marching bands, 2,000 participants, pageant winners and colorful floats.
More than 250 arts and crafts booths will be at the festival, as well as live entertainment on two stages, children’s activities, a Civil War encampment and 25 food vendors vying for visitors’ taste buds.
“When we say 70,000, that’s the actual number coming,” said the Rev. Marlon Longacre of the KBA, festival chairman.
“We’ve got more crafts this year, more booths, more entertainment…we’ve doubled the number of sponsorships this year. I think we’ve gotten over $86,000 in sponsorships this year.”
The Big Shanty Festival is one of the largest arts and crafts shows in north Georgia.
In 2011, it drew approximately 50,000 people to Kennesaw, with an estimated economic impact of $818,247, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the city.
The study, presented on March 19 to the City Council by former Cobb tourism director Judy Renfroe of Renfroe Hospitality Consulting, found that the total economic impact of the city’s three annual festivals, including the Taste of Kennesaw and Pigs and Peaches, was $1.5 million.
The money raised from the Big Shanty Festival goes back into the Kennesaw community in the form of scholarships and donations to schools and local charities.
“That’s one of the reasons why the festival has grown,” Longacre said. “The community knows that the proceeds from the festival will go to their kids.”
During the festival, roads in downtown Kennesaw will be closed.
Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Cherokee Street will be closed for parade set-up from Main Street to Big Shanty Road; J.O. Stephenson Avenue will close from Main Street to Dallas Street; Watts Drive closes from Dallas Street to Main Street; and Lewis Street will close from Dallas Street to Main Street.
For parade set-up on Saturday, Main Street will be closed at 6 a.m. from Lewis Street to Summers Street. Streets along the parade route will be closed from 9 a.m. to 10:30 am.
All streets will re-open at 9 p.m. on Sunday, according to the city.