Bonnie Giles, director of events and communications for Perry Chamber of Commerce, answers questions about the city’s annual Dogwood Festival this weekend and assures everyone that’s there a lot of fun to be had for all members of the family.
Q: When is the Dogwood Festival?
A: April 8-9. The downtown arts and crafts part Saturday is from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and includes all the entertainment, food and other fun things. Same Sunday, but noon-5 p.m. There are three portions to the festival: arts and crafts downtown; the Ultimate Air Dogs competition, also downtown; and then the Hot Air Balloon Rally, which is from 5-9 p.m. Saturday with tethered rides at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.
Q: The Perry Chamber of Commerce has been doing the festival how long?
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A: Twenty-nine years. It started in 1988 as a one-day event downtown merchants did as a way to draw people to downtown Perry. It’s grown to two days and gotten much bigger.
Q: How big?
A: We’ll have 137-plus vendors. The festival covers a good five blocks and we expect about 10,000 people downtown and 12,000 at the fairgrounds for the balloons.
Q: What is the Ultimate Air Dog competition?
A: It’s a lot of fun to watch, mainly, but I guess basically it’s people having their dogs leap off a dock high into the air to retrieve a favorite toy from the water. People come from all over for the competition and a lot from right here have seen it and started practicing and entering with their dogs. A neat thing is they let people bring their dogs and just give it a try. ... They build it all south of the old courthouse. There’s spectator seating and people watch, some for hours. It’s great family entertainment. The whole Dogwood Festival is family oriented.
Q: And free?
A: And free. Admission to everything downtown is free. There’s a $5 admission to the hot air balloons at the fairgrounds but children under 6 are free. Parking is free. The tethered balloon ride is $10 and there’s a kid’s play zone that’s $10. And there’s live entertainment. A lot of people bring lawn chairs to enjoy the whole evening with the balloons firing up for the balloon glow. It’s quite a colorful show.
Q: Back downtown to arts and crafts, what sort of vendors do you have?
A: About everything you can think of when you think arts and crafts. Sometimes that makes guys roll their eyes but we have things for men, too. ... I know Ducks Unlimited has carved ducks and there’s someone selling unique, handmade bow ties. I can’t think of everything but there are others and really, there are lots of regular arts and crafts guys like.
Q: Why go to all the trouble putting on a big festival?
A: The community as a whole is truly excited about it and it brings a lot of synergy and togetherness. It gives us a chance to enjoy our beautiful, historic downtown and to show it off to visitors. It’s a lot of fun. At the same time, it covers many chamber goals. It has an economic development factor as it brings people to see Perry and a quality of life factor by providing an exceptional entertainment event. These make Perry much more attractive to new business and industry considering locating their operations and people here.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perry Dogwood Festival
When: April 8-9
Where: Arts and crafts in downtown Perry; How Air Balloon Rally at Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter’s West Gate
Cost: downtown events are free; balloon rally is $5, free for children under 6