The festival, one of the biggest events for the city with an estimated 70,000 people in attendance, kicked off with the parade at 9:30 a.m. and only got louder from there.
Anyone who wasn’t awake by the time the parade ended surely woke up when the Pulaski Battery Confederate artillery impression fired blanks out of a Civil War-era cannon. The sound could be heard for miles.
“This is our third consecutive year coming to the festival,” said Marietta’s John Nash, Jr. as he stood near the cannon. “This is to commemorate the men on both sides that fought and died 150 years ago.”
If you missed it Saturday, the fun continues today from noon to 5 p.m.
Not just the parade, but the entertainment, vendors and food options seem to stretch for miles in all directions around Kennesaw’s downtown area.
The festival features a variety of activities for all ages, including a trout fishing farm, Wildlife Wendy Bird Show, 250 arts and crafts vendors, and festival food. The parade started at Adams Park and ran though Main Street to downtown Kennesaw.
Marlon Longacre has been the festival chairman since 2003. He said last year’s Big Shanty Festival ended with $62,000 being given back to the community and hopes for an even bigger number this year.
“It’s just a hometown feel,” he said. “It’s 38 years of tradition. It’s well supported by the city, business community, the schools. It’s a hometown festival and the community takes tremendous pride in it.”
Each year, T-shirts marking the occasion don the colors of college basketball’s national champion. This year, it’s the dark blue of the Connecticut Huskies. All of the proceeds from the Big Shanty Festival go to Partners in Education.
Tod Miller is the event’s show manager.
“The festival started when I-75 opened, at first it was known as Trade Days,” he said. “I-75 divided downtown Kennesaw and the idea was to bring people together. Today, it’s Kennesaw’s biggest event of the year. We have every kind of food you can imagine.”
The event is co-sponsored by the city of Kennesaw and the Kennesaw Business Association. For more information, call (770) 423-1330 or visit Kennesaw.com/big-shanty-festival.