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Lee arts fest set 'under the oaks'

LEESBURG -- Lee County art lovers and the county's creative youngsters will have an opportunity to explore their passions March 10-12 when the Lee Chamber of Commerce presents the fifth Under the Oaks Art Fest.

The event will include a jurored art show and sale, an artist reception, 5-K and 1-mile runs, and a day of fun artistic activities for children.

"The arts are important to a quality-of-life community like ours,"

Chamber Marketing Director Lisa Davis said Monday. "We're trying to provide an opportunity for people in our community to view and appreciate art.

"We've had a consistent number of artists involved in the festival each year, and certainly the participation by our youngsters has grown over the years. The 5-K and mile runs this year add an exciting new element to the festival."

The "Run Around Town," which will benefit the Lee County High School Youth Council scholarship fund, is part of the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series.

The Under the Oaks weekend kicks off March 10 with a chamber-sponsored Business After Hours gathering and an artist reception in the Opal Cannon Auditorium of the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building at 102 Starksville Ave. North. The Business After Hours starts at 5 p.m. and is immediately followed by the artist reception.

Awards for artworks submitted by local artists, which will be on display in the Cannon Auditorium throughout the weekend, will be presented during the reception.

March 12 will offer athletes and youngsters in the community opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in what has lately been ideal Southwest Georgia weather. With the purchase of a $3 punch card, children 12-under will enjoy all kinds of art activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., while parents and older family members can check out information, entertainment, arts and crafts, and refreshment booths set up "under the oaks" downtown.

Runners will kick off the Saturday activities at 7:45 a.m. with the start of the "Run Around Town's" mile fun run. More serious runners will start the 5-K race at 8 a.m.

Race registration fees are $20 for 5-K participants who register early or $25 the day of the race. Early mile participants pay a $12 fee or $17 on race day. Race-day registration starts at 6:45 a.m. at the Lee Recreation Department's gym on Starksville Avenue.

Another element of the festival, which is being sponsored by the Lee Chamber, Phoebe Physicians Group, Albany State University, Colony Bank, the Lee County Library and Ed Jordan Music, will be a "Living Healthy in Lee County" health fair. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12, free cholesterol and blood pressure screenings -- as well as other valuable health information -- will be available.

For information about the festival, contact Davis at (229) 759-2422. For race information, contact Patsy Shirley at (229) 759-0088.