You’re a part of your community;
Is your community a part of YOU?
By James P. (Jamie) Dempsey, Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce
Everyone these days speaks of a “sense of community” that they either remember from childhood, wish they had, or, as in the area of South-Eastern Gwinnett County, have found again.
With time becoming more and more of the essence, and in this age of five-minute meals, video game baby-sitters and distractions that pull us all in several directions, how can we ever regain the sense of community that so many of us long for? What can we do to foster that peaceful feeling in our children and pass it on to the next generation? And what can we, as individuals, do to build community in our own back yard?
Several cities in the area have faced these questions and have developed programs and events that meet these needs, through festivals, community-involvement initiatives, and other opportunities for residents to take a moment to breathe, share a smile, and meet the people that live work and play in the same place they do.
Many of these events are developed and sponsored by volunteer organizations within the communities, who see the growing need for neighbors to know their neighbors, and for people to interact, often while helping others in the process. And Fall is the season in which so many of these events take place! Here are some examples:
In the city of Snellville, for example, there is a Community Garden: land provided by the city for individuals and groups to use to plant organic vegetables and to mingle with other like-minded people, sharing tips and secrets, while also providing food for themselves, and for the Gwinnett Co-op, through another community program, “Give Hunger the Boot.”
Snellville, neighboring Grayson, and Lilburn have developed Farmers Markets (Snellville’s is nationally recognized) running through the Autumn months, allowing local growers to sell their wares to the community, and bringing residents together in a sense of camaraderie and fellowship, surrounded by good food, good music and friends.
But these aren’t the only cities in the area holding events that bring people together. Fall Festivals are prevalent in many of the communities around the area. Fair On The Square will be the 5th Annual Lawrenceville Fall Festival. Held at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse on Sunday, September 8 from 11am - 7pm. Free Admission (Small Fee for Rides) and for more information go to http://www.lawrencevillefallfestival.com
Family Friendly Fun for the Family - Food, Vendors, Arts & Crafts, Inflatables, Entertainment Stage, Loganville’s Autumn Heritage Festival (October 19) brings music, arts, food and fun to that community every year; this year the city has added the Ray Nunley Pavilion in the Downtown area, marking yet another location for concerts, outdoor movies, and gathering of residents in a social setting. The Snellville Fall Festival, on October 26 brings people from all over the area to the city to enjoy brisk air, great food, and arts and crafts from around the Southeast. Produced by the Snellville Tourism & Trade Association, the Fall Festival gives the city an opportunity to showcase the hospitality that lives in the city, and to attract new residents, shoppers, and businesses to the area. Please check out their website www.snellvillepride.com for all the upcoming Snellville events. Lilburn and neighboring Monroe all have similar events planned for the season.
Grayson has two events in the fall that build on this same concept, but are unique to that city. The Grayson Blues & Brews Festival (October 5) brings craft beer connoisseurs to the city for a day of live music and beer tasting. This safe-ride endorsed event is in its third year and has grown to be a state- and regionally-known festival, bringing participants from all over the state to the bedroom community, to participate in the hospitality. And the great thing is, while people visit, they get to know the “feel” of the city- its restaurants, shopping and people. And they spend money with the local businesses.
The Hot Tamale Chili Cookoff (November 16) is also a unique event in Grayson. Hosted by the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce (The local/city Chamber for the cities of Loganville, Snellville, and Grayson), this event supports many local charities and causes. Past recipients have been the Grayson Childrens’ Fund, Sheppard’s Staff Ministries, The Snellville Entrepreneurship Alliance at South Gwinnett High School (a program developing the city’s NEXT generation of business owners), and the Grayson cluster School Foundation. This local chili competition and craft and music festival creates friendships as well as fun competition amongst both businesses and individuals, and gives to great causes.
So how do YOU interact with your community? Regardless of where you live, there are several festivals and events that you can get involved with- many in the season that is approaching! But it doesn’t stop there… many of these cities also have Holiday-related events, like Christmas tree lightings, Valentine’s Day dances for charity, and Lawrenceville’s Spring on the Green, a business and community-related festival revolving around St. Patrick’s day. And there are so many more.
Take the opportunity to get involved and become invested in the area in which you live - you won’t regret it! When people come together and are unified in the overall personality of a city or area, it attracts businesses. When businesses come into an area, it creates jobs. Jobs bring people into a location, and that influx creates a rise in property values. And as property values rise, an area becomes more desirable to live in…and the process comes full circle and begins again, with the personality of the COMMUNITY being an attractive asset.
It is a personal thing as well. Going to the grocery is so much more pleasant when you see a neighbor or friend. When someone asks how you have been, or how your baby is doing, or if your dog is feeling better after a bee sting…THAT is community. And when total strangers pull out a penny because you don’t have one to finish your payment at a local restaurant…THAT is community. It really is the “Pay it Forward” concept in action. And it grows and grows…
But it has to start with action. Get involved. Get invested. Be a part. Meet someone new. Champion a local cause.
The events in the cities on the Highway 78/ Highway 124 corridor are a great way to start! Come get a feel for the sense of true community that is growing in Gwinnett, and see the myriad of things that are available to get involved with. For more information about any of the events coming up in the local areas discussed, please feel free to reach out to the organizations that support them: Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce (706.202.8574), New Lawrenceville, (404.375.1496) Snellville Tourism & Trade (firstname.lastname@example.org or 770.310.0429), Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade (678.226.2639), City of Lilburn (770.921.2210), or Grayson Downtown Development Authority (678.467.4637). Also keep up with upcoming events in the local media and on city websites.
As we move forward into a greater sense of community, and into the fall festival season, be encouraged to come be a part of the action! You won’t regret it!
• Farmers Market Wednesday from 4:00-7:00 through October
• October 5 Blues & Brews Beer Festival
• October 12 Anchor Church Fall Festival
• November 16 GECC Hot Tamale Chili Cookoff
• December 1-14 Festival of Trees
• December 8 Christmas Tree Lighting
• August 30 Moonlight & Music- Yacht Rock Schooner
• September 8 5th Annual Fair on the Square
• September 27 Moonlight & Music- Electric Avenue
• October 5 Rock’n Ribville BBQ Festival
• November 28 Christmas Tree Lighting
• December 31- Lawrenceville Rings New Years Celebration
Lilburn - http://www.cityoflilburn.com
• Farmers Market Fridays from 4:00-8:00 through August
• September 1 Sparkle in the Park
• September 14 City Garage Sale
• October 12 Lilburn Daze
• October 19 City Garage Sale
• December 7 Lilburn Christmas Parade
Loganville - http://www.loganville-ga.gov/events-tourism.html
• August 16 Groovin’ on the Green with Critical Velocity
• September 20 Groovin’ on the Green with The Sock Hops
• October 19 Autumn Heritage Festival and Groovin’ on the Green with Funky Bluester
Snellville - http://www.snellville.org
• Farmers Market Saturdays 8:00am-Noon through September
• August 17 Popcorn in the Park- “OZ Great and Powerful”
• August 24 Metro Jazz Club Free Concert on the Towne Green/Snellville’s 90th Birthday Celebration
• August 31 Star Spangled LABOR DAY Celebration with FIREWORKS
• September 21 Around the World Visits Snellville
• September 21 Popcorn in the Park - “Brave”
• September 28 Live on the Lawn -Excite! The Party Band (Motown Sound)
• October 26 Snellville Fall Festival
• December 6 Christmas Tree Lighting
This article is sponsored by New Lawrenceville. New Lawrenceville is a FREE networking organization of businesses and volunteers that are working to bring community together. https://www.facebook.com/NEWLawrenceville?fref=ts
Author Jamie Dempsey is President of the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce.
For more information visit http://www.eastsidechamber.com