Originally created 10/25/98

Festival events attract crowds



Thirteen-year-old Ryan Murphy loaded the .410-gauge shotgun and fired.

Hitting the target dead on, he stepped forward and collected his 20-pound reward.

Even though the target was paper and the turkey was frozen, Ryan was proud to win the early child's turkey shoot at this year's Columbia County Fall Festival.

"The gun had a lot of kick. It hurts your shoulder, but it was really fun. It's pretty cool that I won a turkey, too," said Ryan.

The turkey shoot was just one of the festival's many attractions for the estimated 3,000 people who attended Saturday, said Lynn Cadle, festival publicity chairwoman.

The cool weekend weather was key to the event's success, which took place at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, said event organizers.

"Last year, we had it in September, and it was too hot. But, this year we had perfect weather and were able to offer a lot more," said Lee Wheatley, an event official.

And from its tank trout rodeo to its firefighters competition, the festival had it all.

Bel Air Elementary student James Cook, 5, tried his luck at the trout tank rodeo, an event that involved a contestant standing over a swimming pool full of rainbow trout.

"I didn't catch one, but it was fun. The fish are really big," he said.

But other children were captivated by the fire trucks and the men that came with them.

"My favorite thing was when they blindfolded the firemen," said Gary Thigpen, 11, referring to part of the competition that involved blindfolded firefighters having to negotiate through an obstacle course.

The event simulated what firefighters encounter in making their way through a smoke-filled house, said Marc Jacobs, a firefighter who competed in the event for the Richmond County Fire Department.

The event was also a success for the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation and Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Some 500 cans of food were collected for Golden Harvest -- thanks to children that donated the cans for a free admission.

Also, a Martinez Fire Department fire truck was on hand along with clowns from the Columbia County Burn Center to promote fire safety for children.

"When we are out in the field safety always comes first, and that's what we are here today for. We hope to teach kids fire safety. And if we have done that, then today has been a success," said fireman Keith Griffin of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.

Preston Sparks can be reached at 868-1222, Ext. 110, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.