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Festivals abound in Gwinnett this weekend

Saturday and Sunday, the first Alive! Festival will kick off in Historic Downtown Duluth at the Towne Green. As this festival makes its debut, other festivals commence -- such as the Knights of Columbus Celebrate America Festival at Suwanee Town Center Park and the seventh annual Hot Tamale Chili Cook-off in Grayson.

The Alive! Festival aims to help attendees learn how to integrate health and wellness into their everyday lives through natural, organic products and green living strategies. Benefitting Project Green, an Atlanta nonprofit, the Alive! Festival offers free lectures on "going green" along with healthy foods and eco-friendly ideas.

The Alive! Festival promises to be an informative, environmentally conscious event. All funds raised for Project Green will go toward protection for green-space in the southeast and a "Back to Basics" summer camp for underprivileged children and teenagers. Saturday the festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Saint Monica Knights of Columbus, a Catholic family service organization, is sponsoring a Celebrate America Festival and Raffle at noon on Sunday. It will include more than 25 craft vendors and a large game area for children, which will feature a 75-foot obstacle course.

Many residents will be honored for "ensuring freedom and our American way of life," including military servicemen/women, clergy, doctors and community government workers. Food vendors include Blissful Sweets with funnel cakes and fried Snickers, Runaway Pigs with barbecue sandwiches and Brunswick stew, and Ray's Cuban Cafe serving black beans and empanadas. The raffle winners will be drawn at 4 p.m. for cash prizes.

"Entertainment is scheduled throughout the event featuring the Patriot Guard Riders of Georgia (200 motorcycles and their riders), the American Legion Color Guard (and) the North Atlanta Pipes and Drum," according to a Knights of Columbus press release.

On Saturday, Grayson will welcome the wafting smells of stewing chili at the Hot Tamale Chili Cook-off, hosted by the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce and the Grayson Cluster Schools Foundation. Located at Grayson City Park, proceeds will benefit Grayson area schools' "Build For The Future."

For only $5 attendees have access to all contestants' chili, as well as craft booths, live music and festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.