"Certainly, we are definitely excited," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "I think a lot of local residents probably are too [and] look forward to these big events each fall. It's just a great time of year, combined with good weather and great events and fun activities, to kind of break up your weeks. School's back in for [students] now, [so these events are] just good, fun things to do. We've got a great selection of fall festivals in our community and are really blessed in that sense.
"So it's very nice that we have a lot of things, many of which are free. ... The Great Locomotive Chase up in Adairsville, that is technically our county's oldest event. This year, I believe, is its 43rd year. In Cartersville, the oldest event is Rose Lawn arts and crafts festival, and then just shy of a few years of that festival is Pine Log [Arts and Craft Fair]. So they do have a real good tenure of three and four decades."
With many of these outdoor festivals becoming a fixture in Bartow's offerings, Wheeler said they have grown into a tradition for many families to partake in yearly. While the Great Locomotive Chase Festival, Arts Festival at Rose Lawn and Pine Log Arts and Craft Fair have been operating for decades, newer offerings like Pioneer Days, Covered Bridge Fall Festival in Euharlee and the Booth Western Art Museum's ninth annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium also are gaining loyal followers.
"It is, definitely [a family tradition for some residents]," Wheeler said. "Even Pioneer Days, while it's somewhat new to the Cartersville area within the past few years, it has a long history -- about three decades of history with the Acworth community. So it has a lot of followers. A lot of people do drive up for that event, and it's still a wonderful, quality event, great carnival rides and what I always like to say, 'Mom-approved carnival rides.' And [it is] a good value for the money.
"Certainly for the Rose Lawn festival, that particular event [draws out of town visitors] because it does attract such high-quality artists from across the Southeast. There are a lot of people that are familiar with these artists that do come specifically to check out their wares and to see others that are of the same quality on display. Of course, it is a free event. So people can certainly afford to drive in, make it a weekend, stay overnight and enjoy two days of the event. ... [And, the Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium] -- they put a lot of work into that event and it shows and that is an event as well that really attracts people from all over the Southeast. People do definitely come in and make that one a multi-day stay, and we, of course, at the Convention & Visitors Bureau love that because we want people experiencing our wonderful community and sharing it with other people."
On Friday, Pioneer Days will kick off the festival season. In its third year at the Cartersville venue, the four-day festival is expected to draw about 15,000 festival-goers to Sam Smith Park Sept. 2 to 5.
Along with providing family-oriented entertainment, such as carnival rides, arts-and-crafts vendors, concerts and a fireworks display at dusk Sept. 5, Pioneer Days will serve as a fundraiser for Allatoona Charities Inc. Last year's offering raised about $10,000 that was dispersed to those in need in southern Bartow, northern Cobb, eastern Paulding and western Cherokee counties.
"What we do is we're like an intermediate help for someone," said Dallas Godfrey, event chairman for Pioneer Days and president of Allatoona Charities. "We have this one fundraiser. It's the only fundraiser we have. There's a group of us of about 35 that does this event.
"[Some of the ways we help others is] we pay up to a certain amount on light bills, gas bills. We [provide] glasses for kids. We donate money to [Advocates for Children's] Duck Derby [and] I gave to the fire department explorers last year after the event. ... We can't do a whole lot per individual. It's something to help them get by before they can get some assistance from the government or [another organization]."
To be based at Sam Smith Park, 1155 Douthit Ferry Road, Pioneer Days will be Friday, Sept. 2, from 4 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 3, from noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 4, from noon to 11 p.m.; and Monday, Sept. 5, from noon to 10 p.m.
Admission to Pioneer Days will be $5 per person, but there will be no charge for children 11 and younger. Daily wrist bands will be sold for $20, granting individuals unlimited rides.
For more information about Pioneer Days, visit www.pioneerdaysga.com.