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Daunting skies don't cloud Buford tradition

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

BUFORD -- A pint-sized dance troupe in fluorescent Spandex got jiggy to The Ting Tings.

The tangy smoke of myriad barbecue pits wafted like temptation itself.

And through it all, the perpetually lovable Chopper -- the furry Gwinnett Braves' promoter -- threaded the crowd, declaring himself -- via sign language -- the best mascot in the universe.

It was Buford, crystallized.

So went the third incarnation of the Historic Buford Spring Festival, a teaming mix of about 100 vendors and a crowd of 2,000, organizers estimated. It marked a festive kick-off to May for the north Gwinnett city -- proof it's still lively at age 138.

"This event has grown every year, and we'll continue doing it in unison with the city," said Gene Kerley, vice president of the Buford Business Alliance, the group behind the city's Christmas parade and Business Expo.

By mid-afternoon Saturday, a daunting lid of overcast skies kept Historic Downtown Buford balmy for 75 degrees. A perfect environment for wolfing down funnel cakes and Kona Ice, according to 6-year-old Jillian Hollingshead, who made the trek from Smyrna.

Her mother, Jeannette, a vendor offering everything from purses to desserts, said the inclement weather was no deterrent.

"It's not too bad," Hollingshead said. "People are very friendly -- you don't have anybody haggling for prices."

A bevy of professional musicians was gearing up to play the downtown amphitheater, with its Italianate backdrop that is the Bona Allen Mansion, site of an evening wine tasting.

"This is great," enthused Buford resident Gregg Cloer, occupying a bench with his family near said mansion. "A lot of local people (at the festival), and a good place to have it."