Festival of Lights sets attendance records

The Festival of Lights show at Chehaw, which ends its seasonal run Sunday night, has drawn its biggest crowds this year, park officials say.

The Festival of Lights show at Chehaw, which ends its seasonal run Sunday night, has drawn its biggest crowds this year, park officials say.

ALBANY, Ga. -- With just two days left to view the annual Festival of Lights at Chehaw, Executive Director Doug Porter was beaming Friday when asked about attendance numbers during the month-long show.

"The numbers have been outstanding," Porter said "Through the 26th we've had 8,380 people and 2,498 vehicles see the show, compared to 4,859 people and 1,483 vehicles at the same time last year.

"This year's attendance has been the best ever."


Snow's rare in Southwest Georgia, but the fun of a good snowball fight is captured in lights at Chehaw's annual Festival of Lights show.

The Festival of Lights kicked off on Nov. 30 and will be open today and Sunday before closing.

"We think the attendance numbers are up because we are building a tradition here. A few years ago we had old lights and it was a sad show," Porter said. "We made a decision to either make it better or cancel it altogether."

The park entered into a three-year contract with an outside firm to put tighter the festival at $20,000 per year. While the show immediately improved, the price tag proved to be prohibitive.

"Our guys (park employees) said that we can do this as good if not better, so we did not renew the contract."

In 2010, Chehaw began to do the work itself and attendance numbers, and profits, began to climb."

"It doesn't cost as much now because we own it," Porter said. "It's costing less and less as the years go by, and our staff is really proud of that. It's been a positive experience for everybody.

"We've seen traffic increase and have heard more talk from the community. It's good for business and it's good for the park."

Porter could not help but take a peek into the future to 2013.

"We have to constantly look at at combination of the old favorites while coming up with new ideas" he said. "That is our biggest challenge."

The cost to view the Festival of Lights is $12 per vehicle for Chehaw members and $15 for non-members. To ride the train, patrons pay an additional $3 per person.


chinaberry25 2 years, 11 months ago

I beg that this is fishy. The same number of cars for both years. If so, then this will be the same amount of money coming in because they are charged by the car load not number of people. If it is more money then they went up on the rate per car.


Terry.Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

That was my bad, I typed in the same number of cars twice. in 2012, 2,498 cars have paid admission through the 26th.

Thanks for pointing out the error.


Thurman 2 years, 11 months ago

Mine read correctly, Thanks Terry. I actually viewed the FOL three (3) times because I thought they were beautiful and I shared these with friends/family. I had . a lot of fun with my 6 and 7 year old grandson's teaching them "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song using the visual displays. Thanks Parks at Chehaw.


whattheheck 2 years, 11 months ago

So, how much money was "made" compared to what was "spent" during the year? At the max rate of $15, the gross without train is about $37,000. What was spent on salaries, materials, and electricity? Not saying this is not a good effort but it is surely not a big money maker.


Thurman 2 years, 11 months ago

My understanding, from knowing some of the Chehaw "people" is that they are all volunteers giving of their own time. I volunteered one night to help direct traffic in to avoid having cars lined up on Philema Rd.


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