Time off to go on "stay-cation"
By Angelina Bellebuono and Kathryn Purcell
The economy is in crisis, gas prices are near $4 a gallon and the Dogs aren't playing Saturday. For many people, now might not be the best time to go on that weekend get-away and, without the at-home entertainment that quality college football provides, some Morgan Countians may be wondering what to do with their free time Saturday.
Luckily, many local organizations have scheduled a vast assortments of events, so there's really no need to even leave the county. From an environmental clean-up to a culinary kick in the mouth and everything in between, locals can take their pick of what they want to attend Saturday, and make a 'stay-cation' out of it.
The Morgan County firefighters are an almost exclusively volunteer force, and most of the time they are all about the business of serving their community. But this Saturday will provide a forum through which these highly trained volunteers can show off their skills without being concerned about burning buildings or saving victims. This Saturday is all fun and games, firefighter games, that is. And maybe more than a little bit of competition.
The games are a free, family-style event, according to Amanda Wages, Morgan County Fire Department assistant. Although only the firefighters can participate in the games, she and County Fire Services Coordinator Jerry Couch are hoping that local residents come out to support the
volunteers who keep county residents and their property safe day after day.
Geared to more than the average athlete, these games focus on skills a firefighter needs such as quick-dress (a timed event where competitors don all 50-plus pounds of turn-out gear as quickly as possible); obstacle course (not an easy task while sporting the 50-plus pounds of turn-out gear); busted hose (repairing a hose-yet another important and applicable skill for the firefighter); tight squeeze (a team event where fully outfitted firefighters must squeeze through pipe with all
the tools they need to complete a task, then complete the task); bucket brigade (think old-timey firefighting by passing a bucket filled with water); and finally, when the other events are finished, a mystery team event.
Wages said the firefighters will earn points as individuals and as teams, and the points will accumulate throughout the day. But, basically, she said,"The games are for braggin' rights."
Last year's team winner was the Godfrey station and they will be present to defend their title. But, at the end of this year's events, Wages said, "There might be some trophy handing-over."
Moms and Dads with little tykes who dream of being a fireman someday may want to bring a camera since there will be a Morgan County fire truck on site, complete with hats and turn-out gear so the young dreamers can get outfitted and pose. Wages said this might be the perfect opportunity for parents to get a picture for this year's Christmas card.
Concessions from a local youth group will round out the day, but families can also pack picnics and spend the day cheering on the county's special breed of heroes.
Madison's Fourth Annual Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off
In a competition worthy of Food Network, chili cooks will gather in Madison's downtown square Saturday for Madison's Fourth Annual Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off.
This year's is slated to be more formal than past years, as Main Street Director Ann Huff has gotten the Chili Appreciation Society International, Inc. (CASI) involved.
"The Chili Appreciation Society International's mission is to promote chili and raise money for charity," according to the CASI Web site, www.chili.org. "Each year, nearly 10,000 cooks share their chili, fun and good deeds with each other, the public and sponsors at 600 CASI cook-offs, throughout the U.S. and neighboring countries. These CASI-sanctioned events raise over $1 million, annually, for local charities and provide a chance for cooks to qualify for the Terlingua International Chili Championship."
Part of being CASI-sanctioned, CASI chefs entering their chili in the "Traditional (CASI) Red Chili" will be strictly refereed by a CASI official and must conform to CASI rules.
Further, CASI chili is solely red sauce, meat and spices. No beans or other fillers are permitted.
"The spices are what CASI chefs hold close to their chest," Huff said.
CASI cooks will compete not for money, but for points. Cooks that rack up a given amount of points are invited to the mother of all chili cook-offs, the Terlingua International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas. Being invited to participate in the Terlingua Championship is the ultimate honor for CASI chefs.
"CASI cooks are a little bit more serious chili-heads," Huff said.
For chili chefs that aren't part of CASI, there will also be an "Open" category. Ingredients aside from sauce, meat and spices are allowed, and the winner will receive $400, and bragging rights.
"The Three Amigos are back this year, and they said they're going to win for the fourth year in a row," Huff said. "It's become a challenge...They're a force to be reckoned with."
The judging will begin around noon; at that point, sample cups will be available for $2 for the public to go booth-to-booth and take a taste of the chili.
There will also be a People's Choice Award, based on votes from the public, and a Showmanship Award, based on who has the best-looking booth.
In further honoring chili, there will be a Krystal's Chili Pup Eating Contest at 11 a.m. and a Sancho's Jalapeno Eating Contest at 1 p.m. Both are testing participants to see how many chili pups or jalapenos they can eat in two minutes. Winners will receive gift certificates from the respective restaurants, $25 in Downtown Dollars and, of course, a plaque. Registration for these contests is on-site Saturday.
Not a fan of chili? Not to worry. The Royal Diadem Tabernacle Ladies Group will be selling homemade cookies and cakes; barbecue from Big Kev's Bar-B-Q will be available; and the Morgan County Touchdown Club will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Additionally, HunkerDowns Fresh Market will move over to the square for the day to sell fall produce as well as boiled peanuts and apple cider.
The Fall Festival also includes antique tractors on display and an area for children, which will include a number of inflatables. Pianist James Casto as well as the Rick Fowler Band will provide live entertainment throughout the day.
"It's all about having fun, competition and bragging rights," Huff said. "There's something for the whole family to do."
Proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Morgan County Citizen, United Bank and Georgia Power, go to benefit the Madison Volunteer Fire Department. Next Saturday, October 11, the city will host the Firefighters' Fall 5K Road Race which will also benefit the fire department.
Madison's Chili Cook-Off and Fall Festival begins at 10 a.m. and will run to 3 p.m.
Applications for the chili cook-off are available at www.madisonga.com. The entry fee for the "Open" category is $25 per team, while the "Traditional (CASI)" category is $15 per team.
For more information, contact Ann Huff or Lori Stapp at 706.342.1251.
Morgan County Fair
Although the Morgan County Fair's final day in town is Saturday, the fair is traditionally as good on the last day as it was on the first.
As the official "family day," families from throughout the region and children of all ages have this day for one more crazy ride or another melt-in-the-mouth bite of funnel cake.
Quiet and empty for most of the year, the Lions Club Fairgrounds bustles with color, sound and light during the show's annual run. Complete with games for all ages, rides, fair food and fun, the event beckons the young and the young-at-heart.
The family day often provides deep cuts on prices, allowing families a more economical way to "play" the fair.
This year's fair opens Tuesday evening and runs until close Saturday night, but is there anything as much fun as a sunny day on the fairway?
Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee
"Water quality is something that we should all be responsible for," said Linda Thoman.
To that end, Keep Morgan Beautiful (of which Thoman is a part) will be participating in Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee, a multi-county clean-up of the lake.
"Rivers Alive is Georgia's annual volunteer waterway clean-up event that targets all waterways in the state including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches and wetlands," according to the Rivers Alive Web site, www.riversalive.org. "The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources."
An average of 25,000 volunteers participate in Rivers Alive each year, according to Janet Pearson, president of Lake Oconee Water Watch (LOWW), an organization responsible for conducting monthly water monitoring of the lake.
Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee is organized by LOWW each year and, though this is seventh year of the event, it's the first time that Keep Morgan Beautiful has formally participated.
Many volunteers will be on foot, cleaning up the shoreline of public access areas. However, there will also be volunteers working on boats as well as scuba diving to clean up the lake.
"We are the first and, as far as I know, the only group that does scuba diving as well," Pearson said.
"It's such a wonderful service, because things that get to the bottom of the lake are really a problem," Thoman said.
Pearson has seen as few as 75 and as many as 250 volunteers participate in Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee. This year, she's had between 125 and 150 volunteers to sign up so far.
Oftentimes it takes that many volunteers to gather the vast amount of trash that has gathered in and around the lake.
"It [the amount of trash collected] varies depending on some of the big things we find," Pearson said. "We've found a number of tires; sometimes there's some heavy stuff. We've pulled five, six, seven, eight junk boats out of the lake. Apart from the heavy things, we usually get a ton and a half to two tons of trash."
Registration begins at 9 a.m. at Swords Landing. There, volunteers will sign waivers and receive maps highlighting problem spots on and around Lake Oconee. Locations of pre-determined sites for divers will also be available.
Trash bags, protective gear, insect repellant and bottled water, among other items, will be also be provided at registration. Thoman recommends volunteers wear adequate clothing, good shoes and a hat.
Around noon, volunteers will gather at Lawrence Shoals Park Pavilion, off of Highway 16 near the Wallace Dam, for lunch, provided by Georgia Power, pictures and goodie bags. Additionally, there will be a silent auction and live entertainment during lunch.
Thoman believes in the significance of Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee, highlighting both health and tourism as reasons for participating.
"This is important because that water not only becomes drinking water in Morgan County, but it supports wildlife," Thoman said. "Our tourism package also centers around the lake."
For more information on Rivers Alive on Lake Oconee, or to register or get a copy of the waiver form in advance, contact Thoman at 706.342.3156 or Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge Fall Yard Sale
For the twelfth consecutive year, the grassy park that serves as the community apex of the "small but special" Rutledge will be home to the area's largest yard sale. Starting at 8 a.m Saturday, the entire family will be able to discover affordable treasures from the more than 30 booths of locals who are "bringing a lot of stuff to sell to pay for gas," said Ed Hogan, event organizer.
Vendors will be offering everything from vegetables to knick-knacks, and Georgia Rescue and Rehab (GRR) will have animals for adoption. For the more activist-oriented family members, at least one vendor will be selling to raise money for the Susan G. Komen fund for breast cancer
The trash-to-treasure fun will continue until there's nothing left to sell, but the fun should wrap up by mid-afternoon.
• Morgan County Republican Party
Current Sheriff Robert Markley, who is up for re-election, and Terry Evans, candidate for tax commissioner, as well as state legislators will be part of a meet and greet, put on by the Morgan County Republican Party, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Masonic Lodge in downtown Bostwick. Coffee and donuts will be provided.
For more information, contact Bob Rice at 706.342.9615.
• Democrats for Obama
Democrats for Obama are sponsoring a Voter Registration Rally on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the square in downtown Rutledge, part of the annual Rutledge Yard Sale.
The opportunity to register to vote will be available all day, as will refreshments and balloons. Obama campaign yard signs, bumper stickers and buttons will also be distributed while they last.
From 9 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m., a voting machine will be available for demonstration and hands-on practice. Morgan County High School Young Democrats President Wesley Glosson and Vice President Gary Walker will speak from 11:30 a.m. to noon. A question-and-answer session will take place from noon to 12:30 p.m. Patsy Harris, chairman of the Morgan County Democratic Committee, will speak beginning at 1 p.m.
For more information, contact Ollie Rivers at 706.818.0682.