Family Fun

Pioneer Days signals start of fall festival season


Regarded as a Labor Day weekend staple, Pioneer Days will launch Bartow County’s steady stream of fall festivals Friday. To be presented by Allatoona Charities Inc., the four-day event will return to Sam Smith Park, 1155 Douthit Ferry Road in Cartersville.

“While families may not [have] as much flexible time to get away during the late summer and early autumn months, Cartersville's location, great attractions, weather and a never-ending menu of seasonal fairs and festivals makes our community an ideal choice for many,” said Regina Wheeler, director of operations for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Over the past five years with smartphones and other mobile devices becoming so commonplace, visitors want their information instantly. Much of the [CVB's] advertising drives visitors to, but many do still call to find out those local tips on things to see and do. As for the website, the events calendar is the second most-visited page behind the homepage with thousands viewing it monthly.

“Just as the CVB is saying goodbye to summer season by closing The Beach at George Washington Carver Park, festival goers will be eating cotton candy and releasing screams mixed with laughter at Pioneer Days at Sam Smith Park. This festival that originated in Acworth has become a Labor Day weekend tradition in the hearts of many. The festival is known for having some of the best carnival rides at any of north Georgia's fairs and [being a] fun way to transition to the colorful fall season.”

Opening Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Pioneer Days will continue Saturday, Sept. 1, from noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 2, from noon to 11 p.m.; and Monday, Sept. 3, from noon to 10 p.m.

Serving as a fundraiser for Allatoona Charities Inc., the festival provides family-oriented entertainment, such as Peachtree Rides providing about 27 carnival rides and games, an arts and craft show, and a fireworks display Sept. 3 at 9:30 p.m.

“ACI was organized … to help the needy in our community,” Allatoona Charities President Dallas Godfrey said. “[The festival] was in Acworth for 30 years, and we outgrew our location.

“Pioneer Days moved to Cartersville. … The [Sam Smith Park] venue is great for Pioneer Days. We have plenty of room. We are being told by participants that this has become an annual tradition for them to attend.”

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.

As in past years, this event’s proceeds will be dispersed to those in need in south Bartow, north Cobb, northeast Paulding and southwest Cherokee counties.

“Our organization loves giving back to the community,” Godfrey said. “Everyone that works our event does not receive any wages. It is all volunteer, which gives us more profit to go back into the surrounding community.

“… It is very rewarding to give back to the community that I grew up in. We were around in the ’80s when there was no other groups helping the way we do.”

For more information about Pioneer Days, visit
“You know, most towns in Georgia have at least one fall festival to attract people to their communities, but few towns have a festival or event to welcome their visitors every weekend beginning with Labor Day right on up through the first weekend in November,” Wheeler said. “Many towns also have their events on the square or at the fairgrounds, but what towns invite you to historic tabernacles, Victorian mansions … and historic and rare covered bridges? We do that, because there are so many special and unique places to share here.

“I hope people view Bartow County and its communities as a vibrant place to experience and that memories are created with a strong desire to share them and repeat them. There's no better advertisement than firsthand experiences shared by friends and family. I want people to have those ‘remember when’ and ‘let's do that again’ moments." 

In addition to Pioneer Days, 2018’s fall festival lineup includes the 39th annual Pine Log Arts & Crafts Fair at Pine Log United Methodist Church, 3497 Pine Log Road in Rydal, Sept. 8 and 9; 43rd annual Arts Festival at Rose Lawn at Rose Lawn Museum, 224 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, Sept. 15 and 16; Bartow County Fair at American Legion Fairgrounds, 1 Roosevelt St. in Cartersville, Sept. 26 to 30; 50th annual Great Locomotive Chase Festival at Adairsville Public Square, Oct. 5 to 7; Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival in downtown Cartersville Oct. 20; and 16th annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium at Booth Western Art Museum, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville, Oct. 25 to 28.

“Several local festivals … share the community's love of music and diversity,” Wheeler said. “This is [evident] in Adairsville's Great Locomotive Chase Festival's 50th anniversary headliner Confederate Railroad; some of the top names in bluegrass lined up for the Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival; and the smooth Western sound to be shared onstage at Cartersville's Grand Theatre by Riders in the Sky, this years featured entertainers at the Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium. It's cliché to say ‘there's something for everyone,’ but I'm not lying.

“My favorite memories from past fall festivals? Sitting beside noted quilter Martha Mulinix on the front porch at Rose Lawn and having her show me how to take a stitch alongside her. Working the coin toss booth to benefit the high school marching band at the GLCF [Great Locomotive Chase Festival]. There was a winner with almost every coin tossed. … I also remember my first time visiting the Pine Log arts fair. I couldn't help think about all the sermons shared, souls saved and prayers of thanksgiving that must have taken place on that historic ground.”