Staff Photo: John Bohn Jacob Grafton, 8, of Duluth, eats a rib while attending Lawrenceville's Rock'n Rib Fest Saturday. Grafton was accompanied by his mother Julie Grafton and his grandmother JoAnn Grafton.
Fourth Annual Rock'n Rib Fest
Georgia Gwinnett College student Frank Brake participates in a burger-eating contest and a flash mob breaks out at the Fourth Annual Rock'n Rib Fest in Lawrenceville.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The sounds of classic rock, children's laughter and vendors selling their items reverberated throughout historic downtown Lawrenceville Saturday.
On a brisk fall day, smoking ribs were pulled off the grill and devoured by eager customers at the fourth annual Rock'n Rib Fest.
With live music presented all day at the two stage locations, families and friends gathered to enjoy the food, activities and art.
The day began at 9 a.m. with the third annual Rock'n Rib Run for Breast Cancer 5K. Last year the run had 215 participants that raised about $6,000 and the hope for this year was to meet or exceed that same fundraising level.
One of the main focuses of the day for the Rock'n Rib Fest was celebrating Georgia Gwinnett College and its relationship with the community.
Amy Chroeng, a junior biology major, was helping to work the GGC tent. "The Rock'n Rib Fest makes me want to visit Lawrenceville more. I love all the locally owned shops. It's a really fun idea," Chroeng said.
Just after 5 p.m. speakers for Georgia Gwinnett College gave a welcome at the main stage on Clayton Street, followed by a Grizzly (the college's mascot) burger-eating contest.
The big surprise of the day was immediately following the tug-of-war competition. A flash mob broke out on Clayton Street as dozens of students began to dance.
"The flash mob was thought of by the students. We got a huge group of people together through emails, fliers and tons of things like that," Chroeng said.
Katie Peterson, Lawrenceville marketing director, was excited for the opportunity for the college students to interact more with the community, she explained.
"We are letting the students know we are downtown Lawrenceville and we have a lot of fun things to do," Peterson said.
For local residents the Rock'n Rib Fest is also a time to support town growth and pride. Victoria Nucklos, a Lawrenceville resident for 26 years, had a tent selling seasonal floral arrangements.
"I think (Rock'n Rib Fest) brings other people in to see all that we have going on," Nucklos said. "It's a wonderful way for people to meet and have a good time."
Police motor officer S.D. Pierce agrees, explaining what makes the event so great is "good weather, good food, good times and good music." Working the event in the past, Pierce has seen it grow.
"This is the first time we have seen people parking all the way down to City Hall," Pierce said. "With all four sides of the Square shut down it has allowed more vendors and space for attendees."
Throughout the afternoon and into the night, bands pleased crowds and ribs appeased appetites. Georgia Gwinnett College and the city united to celebrate their new, deepening ties.
As Chroeng said, the most important part of the event is "interaction" because "you don't always see and meet people in your community."