Beginning Friday, the 43rd Great Locomotive Chase Festival will roll into Adairsville bringing with it food vendors, arts and crafts, historical exhibits, carnival rides and live entertainment.
The festival commemorates the theft and pursuit of the General, a steam powered locomotive. The General was stolen by Andrew's Raiders, a group of Union spies, in 1862. Pursuers chased the Raiders through Bartow County, including Adairsville, before the General came to a stop north of Ringgold.
City Clerk and event organizer Nicole Stephens has been attending the event practically her entire life and is now taking part in its execution.
"I'm looking forward to it. I think it'll be a good year. Last year surprised me with how busy it was, so I'm thinking this year is going to be just as big or bigger." Stephens said. "I think everyone enjoys it because they get to see people they haven't seen in awhile, kind of like a reunion. ... It's special in my heart because I've went to it, ever since I can remember. It's just kind of a part of Adairsville."
Jerri Holloway, director of the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum, echoed Stephens' sentiments on the festival's ability to reunite friends and neighbors.
"To the citizens of the city of Adairsville, it's a time to get together, see people you haven't seen since last festival, meet old friends and eat all this good food. We've got anything from beans to barbecue to anything you can think of," Holloway said. "A lot of people come for the food, but primarily it's the camaraderie of seeing people you haven't seen in a while."
Organizers sought this year a wider variety of vendors to offer a greater selection for all age groups and interests. Arts on the Square, 122 Public Square, will even feature additional booths within the store.
Festivities will take place Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for those ages 6 and older is $3 on Friday and Saturday, admission is free on Sunday.
The Backstreet Boogie Band will perform Friday followed on Saturday by Babe's Bayou, both at 8 p.m. Sunday will feature various gospel music acts.
The Little Miss and Mr. Great Locomotive Chase Festival Pageant will be held Friday at 5:30 p.m. and the Great Locomotive Chase Festival Pageant will be Saturday at 3 p.m. The Great Locomotive Chase Festival Parade will be Saturday at 11 a.m.
In addition to entertainment, handmade crafts and other activities, the festival will contain historical demonstrators and re-enactors.
"We're trying to bring back a bit of the historic flavor of the festival that it had in the first place. It was local people doing local things and as it grew it became more commercial over the years and we would like to get back some of the original, historical, hometown flavor," Holloway said. "A lady will be giving spinning demonstrations with a spinning wheel and she's going to have two or three different kind of wheels and a whole array of items that would be used for the spinning of thread.... She will have a large display here in the depot and I'm real excited about that.
"We'll have re-enactors walking around in uniform this year. We've been trying for a long time to get re-enactors for the festival. ... This year they will be mostly walking in and out amongst the people -- talking to people and answering questions they might have about the war."