BOSTON — This tiny community, just an hour south of Albany, will paint the town “Ruby” red as the community celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Boston (GA) Mini-Marathon and Festival. Always the last weekend in October, this premier south Georgia festival is set for Friday and Saturday.
The inaugural event, held the last Saturday in October 1979, was planned as a community and family event, attracted more than 100 runners as well as arts and crafts vendors. Forty years later, the run/walk event remains the signature feature of the festival; arts, crafts and food vendors along with live entertainment, a cookoff, a costume contest, a parade, a kids’ activities area, a bike ride, a trail ride, and other events add to the festival atmosphere.
On Friday, beginning at 6 p.m., food vendors set up and participants in the Best Barbecue Butt in Boston cook-off sign in. Bill Tanner (229-226-2357) chairs this event and invites all competitors, new and experienced, to join in. Judging begins Saturday at noon; winners will be announced at 3 p.m. Categories are butts, ribs and best overall; cash prizes are awarded.
Bring a lawn chair or blanket and prepare to enjoy yourself Friday night with an evening of entertainment at no charge. The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. in Watt Park with “Dads’ Joke Comedy Show,” featuring the comedic talents of Austin Mann, Jesse Schober and Andrews Apple. These guys promise to keep you laughing; they will perform again during band breaks. Bleu Burden will perform from 8-10:30 p.m. This popular band originated on a front porch in Thomasville and will present a variety of music showcasing the talents of this diverse group.
Saturday, beginning at 6 a.m., run/walk participants will check in on Main Street. Runners from across the South will participate in the race, which covers a wheel-measured, sanctioned course through the pastoral countryside. After the presentation of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the signal sounds at 8 a.m., sending the runners off to complete the 13.1-mile course. Participants in the 5K follow at 8:10 a.m.; participants in the 1-mile fun run leave at 8:15 a.m.
“Registration is brisk and competition is keen,” Race Director Brad Johnson said. “Registration is available on Saturday; however, register early to assure receiving a packet with our 40th anniversary commemorative T-shirt. You will want this special design to add to your collection.
“Winners are recognized during an awards ceremony in Watt Park at 11 a.m. Register online directly at Itsyourrace.com; get a form from our website, www.bostonga.com; forms are available at local businesses, or call me at (229) 221-8092.”
The tantalizing aromas of BBQ, fried fish, funnel cakes, fried oreos, alligator tail, hamburgers, and other traditional festival fare will fill the air as the food court opens by 9 a.m. Located in front of Synovus Bank, picnic tables surrounded by the food vendors will provide more seating and a relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the food court, local restaurants will be open serving their specialties.
Arts and crafts vendors, offering a wide selection of hand-made and home-made items reminiscent of offerings from the past, will be set up along Pear Street. Handmade candles, handmade jewelry, Christmas and other seasonal décor, original art, cards and prints, woodcrafts are just a few of the crafts that will be offered. Downtown shops and boutiques also will be open.
The Kids Karnival is new this year at the Marathon/Festival this year. Located on the east side of the 100 block of Main Street, all activities are free to kids 12 and under. One of the main attractions will be the Sea Mobile, Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory’s traveling exhibit. It holds 450 gallons of saltwater aquariums, including five touch tanks with starfish, sea urchins, conchs, crabs, sponges and a variety of other interesting and colorful sea life from the Gulf of Mexico.
A petting zoo from Fifth Day Farm and a bouncy house will also be available. Activity stations set up include face painting, decorating mini-pumpkins, painting rocks and more. To commemorate the 40th anniversary, all of these activities are available at no charge. For more information about the Kids Karnival, call (229) 498-1146.
Activities all day at the Boston Fire Department, at the corner of Stone and Jefferson Streets, include safety education, first aid, 911 and fire. The Occupant Protection Mobile Unit will be on hand. Available through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Camden County Sheriff’s Office provides this unit in an effort to increase proper seat belt restraint usage and reduce street and highway fatalities.
Live entertainment will be offered in two locations this year.
“We’re excited to offer a wide variety of entertainment, including a Get Up challenge,” Ann McCrickard, the event entertainment chair, said. “The stage set up at Jefferson and Main Streets will feature Robert Smith & Company, a family band and vocalist; line dancers who will offer audience participation (join in the Get Up Challenge); singer Keelan Kirkland; a juggler; a special performance by The Dance Academy; and Cookie Guyton and “Love in Action” singing gospel and spiritual a capella.”
Local folks will stories of “yesteryear” starting at 9 a.m. at Watt Park. At 10:30 a.m., the park becomes a gathering place for ghosts and gobblins as children of all ages line up to be judged in their Hallowe’en costumes. To compete, simply come in your costume to Watt Park by 10:30. Patti Woods is coordinating this event and says, “Young and old alike are invited to participate in the fun. Judged by age groups, the competition is friendly and all participants get prizes. There will be some spook-tacular costumes.”
An awards ceremony at 11 a.m., also in Watt Park, recognizes the winners from the run/walk events. The person with the best time in the half-marathon will win a cash prize.
At 11:30 a.m., the parade begins at the railroad on Main Street. Special seating is provided for folks who signed on early as sponsors. Carlton Powell, the Thomas County Sheriff for more than 42 years and reputed to be the longest-serving sheriff in Georgia (and possibly the entire U.S.), is the parade marshal. The parade features the newly crowned Miss Boston and her court, floats and festival queens from surrounding communities, a marching band from the Thomas County Central School system, equestrian units, classic Mustangs, and many others. Entry forms are available at local businesses or call (229) 498-1146.
At noon, the Thomas University Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Karl Barton, takes the stage in Watt Park. Their program will range from traditional jazz, funk fusion with a touch of rock ‘n’ roll.
Justin Schools, a one-man band from Hahira, follows from 2-4 p.m. with a break at 3 p.m., when cook-off winners are announced. Justin’s music features traditional country and rock.
At 1 p.m., a multimedia presentation of the history of Boston in the Boston Community Center glances backwards at Boston from its beginnings as a stagecoach stop in 1837 through the virtual relocation of the town in the mid-19th century, its boom as an agricultural shipping point in the first part of the 20th century to its place now in history as a rural town of historic interest, confirmed by its place on the National Historic Register.
The second annual “Tour de Boston,” a family event open to bicyclists of all ages, begins and ends at Watt Park. Margaret Cook leads the ride, which will leave at 2 p.m., travel through downtown into picturesque countryside and back. There is no fee for this event; however, registration is required. Registration is available on the website, and a form can be submitted at the event. For more info, call Amanda Maxwell at (229) 403-1365.
Visitors can enjoy historic Boston on horseback Saturday afternoon. Riders will meet at the Stephens Street Sports Complex at 10:30 if participating in the parade or 12:15 p.m. for lunch and the ride out 2:30 p.m. Negative coggins required. There is a fee for this event. Registration form is available at www.bostonga.com or contact Julie Christopher Lawrence (229) 224-0020.
Visit Boston’s website, www.bostonga.com click on events and follow prompts to register for Mini-Marathon, or call (229) 498-1146 for more information. Amanda Maxwell, Christine Welsh and Hannah Evans co-chair the 40th Annual Boston (GA) Mini-Marathon and Festival Committee.