While the Fourth of July landed on a Wednesday this year, patriotic celebrations didn’t simply end mid-week. On Saturday, July 7, festivities continued with the Richmond Hill Recreation Association’s 33rd annual Ol’ Time Family Festival and Barbecue.A
"We have a lot more stuff going on this year," said Shelly Sauls, coordinator of the event. "The pavilion is full of vendors, which is a big improvement from last year. Also, there’s a lot more for the kids to do."
The event’s kickoff started at 8 a.m. with a 5k fun run and activities continued throughout the day until the grand finale of sparkling fireworks at dusk.
Among the entertainment, Marcel Dunant had a special show for the crowd. As a marketing representative for JCB Inc., he came out with his "dancing digger," performing "death defying acts" of standing the backhoe perpendicular and parallel to the ground.
Vendors included the Low Country Kettle Corn father and son duo, which just recently started selling their sweet treats at festivals. The Ol’ Time Family Festival and Barbeque was their fourth vending experience; at a reduced rate, bags of their freshly popped kettle corn sold from two to five dollars.
When the heat proved too much, there were cups of fresh-squeezed lemonade, complimented by the neighboring corn-dog stand. For larger hunger pangs, homemade barbeque plates sold all day until there was only pulled pork sandwiches left at the end of the night, of course including a sample of Rip Tide Barbeque Sauce.
Originally fishing buddies, now partners, Rip Tide Barbeque Sauce’s Greg Hammond and Troy Padgett updated a family recipe to create their distinctive sauce. "Ours is the best barbeque sauce you’ll ever put in your mouth," said Padgett. "We use a unique blend of three styles of barbeque: Western Carolina vinegar based, Carolina mustard based, and Carolina ketchup based flavors."
The pavilion was lined with vendors selling purses, jewelry, and the opportunity for arts and crafts; beyond it there was a bungee trampoline and rock-climbing wall surrounded by some inflatable rides including a water slide to keep the kids cool, as well as a mini mock bootcamp course from RH Bootcamp, and a NASCAR simulator.
Families roamed the park, watching the Miss RHRA pageant and Redneck Golf Tournament early during the day, moving on to the car show and listening to the 17 participants of this year’s Richmond Hill Idol Contest later in the afternoon.
Throughout the festivities, local radio station 97.3 Kiss FM was broadcasted live to announce what was happening throughout the park, and get the group geared up for the culminating fireworks display.
The crowd continued growing throughout the day, and by the end of the night it appeared as though all of Richmond Hill was present for the grand finale. After the teen dance ended at 9 p.m., the fireworks were shot off directly above the multitude of families gathered throughout the park and down GA Highway 144.
Sauls’s immediate and extended family pitched in throughout the day, both lending a hand and participating in the activities. "I had to bring the whole family out to make it happen," she said.