By Leila Dycus, intern
The town of Buckhead celebrated its annual Old Buckhead Days festival last Saturday, April 5. People from across the county came together to take part in the Real Buckhead Road Race, which was followed by a parade and activities in the town park. The purpose of this year’s event was to raise money for the restoration of the town’s playground.
What started out as a celebration of Buckhead’s centennial a few years ago has turned into a yearly celebration, drawing a larger crowd each year.
“We had the very first one to celebrate our one hundred years,” said Buckhead Mayor Ricky Walker. “We did the first one and then just proceeded from there.”
For Buckhead residents, Old Buckhead Days has become a tradition to look forward to each year. Initially, the even would be scheduled for an indeterminate date in the spring, but, now, Old Buckhead Days has taken root in the first weekend of April.
The Buckhead City Council has been working for months to improve the town park and the park’s playground. The council’s goal has been to bring the playground up to safety standards, so they decided that the money raised from this year’s Old Buckhead Days would fund playground improvements. “
Council member Robin Bone put this together,” said Walker “She had assistance from the rest of the council and then she got some other committee members from around the area to help her put it together. I think they’ve done an outstanding job.”
The day began bright and early with The Real Buckhead Road Race. According to City Clerk Cheryl Saffold last year’s 5K had about 45 pre-entries and 87 total runners.
This year’s race brought in more runners, with over 100 pre-registered and about 28 walk-up entries.
Runners sported their race tee shirts and medals as they watched the parade and enjoyed the festivities in the park.
The parade took off a little after 10 a.m. Residents lined the streets from the Buckhead Grocery all the way to the fire department. The parade consisted of new and vintage cars, tractors, fire trucks and different groups from area including the Morgan County High School cheerleaders and the Awana Club.
Three cowgirls rode their horses in the parade, and Mayor Walker wrapped up the parade in his truck, which was decorated with University of Alabama merchandise.
Once back at the fire station, people were able to enter the park and visit over 20 vendors. According to Saffold this is the first year that Old Buckhead Days had had as many vendors as they did this year.
Mayor Walker kicked off the park festivities by introducing the different aspects of the event and thanking all of the people who put the event together.
After the national anthem, a series of bands began to play, drawing visitors to tables set up around the park.
Ty Manning and Kelly Manning was the second band to take the stage, signing songs and thanking the community for all of their support.
“The music’s basically local talent,” said Walker. “It’s people from around the Buckhead area that are performing today,” said Walker. Children were encouraged to participate in the different races including a sack race, a three legged race, an egg and spoon contest and a hula-hoop game.
Face painting and a bounce house were also offered to entertain the kids in the crowd. For many of the children Old Buckhead Days was a time to take to this year’s beneficiary, the town playground.
The fire department opened its doors to help host the event, and they also provided food for the crowd.
Hamburgers and hot dogs were served to the hungry crowd. A boiled peanut vendor finished off the menu for the day.
“If it weren’t for the fire department we wouldn’t be able to do this,” said City Clerk Cheryl Saffold.
For the city of Buckhead, this year’s Old Buckhead Days was a huge success, bringing more people to the celebration than had ever attended before.
“I love it, ” said Walker. “I mean you don’t see Buckhead full of people that much.”
“You know it’s usually the Forth of July that there’s a crowd, but to see them come back in the spring to celebrate Old Buckhead Days means a lot.”