SUWANEE - In the 24 years the city of Suwanee has been throwing the Suwanee Day festival, the number of attendees has grown from 10,000 to 30,000 - more people than actually live in the city.
"We get more attendees than we have residents," said Lynne Bohlman DeWilde, public information officer for the city. "For that one day, the city's population practically doubles. That's amazing."
So what's the big draw to this annual event? It could be the row upon row of arts and crafts vendors and food suppliers. It could be the 11 hours of free shows. It could be the vast playground of inflatable rides, fireworks and hands-on art projects. Most likely, DeWilde predicts, it's all this.
"There really is something for everyone in the family," she said. "It's practically impossible not to have a good time at the festival."
Kicking off the festival at 10 a.m. Saturday will be the "A Day in the Park" parade, which will travel along Buford Highway and Main Street. DeWilde calls the parade, featuring Olympic gold medalist and local resident Gail Devers, a must-see event. Soul and funk group The Average White Band are another festival highlight and will take the stage at 8 p.m.
Throughout the day, exhibitors will tempt shoppers with their wares, offering everything from wind chimes and jewelry to collegiate-themed purses.
"This is a great place to get started on your Christmas shopping," DeWilde said. "I'm sure everyone has their own favorite part, and the arts and crafts exhibitors are mine. I could spend all day just walking around looking at all the good stuff."
For new residents, the festival is a way to become better acquainted with the town and neighbors. The festival also offers a chance for long-time Suwanee dwellers to rekindle a relationship with the community.
Suwanee Day is just one of an array of community events that, presumably, led Money magazine to name the city one of America's best places to live, DeWilde said.
"Almost every city has their festival, and ours is truly a celebration of community. Every year I hear people say they met up with old friends or made new friends at the festival," DeWilde said. "This is a great way to bring the community together. We get so wrapped up in our busy, everyday lives, and Suwanee Day is a great way to just relax and reconnect."
SideBar: If you go
' What: Suwanee Day festival
' When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
' Where: Town Center Park, located at the intersection of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Buford Highway in Suwanee
' Cost: Free
' Info: Call 770-945-8996 or visit www.suwaneeday.com