Set-up begins for Chehaw's Native American Festival - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Set-up begins for Chehaw's Native American Festival

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - If you don't have any plans this weekend, set your calendars for one of the biggest events at Chehaw park. The Annual Native American Festival starts Friday. Vendors will be setting up all day Thursday for the event.

Merchants will be selling Native American arts and crafts, including: silver and turquoise jewelry, hand painted drums, clothing and replicas of Native American tools, knives and more. They'll also demonstrate everyday tasks which include stone tool chipping for arrowheads, deer-hide tanning, pottery making, basket weaving, etc.

This year's demonstrators will cover different cultures of various Native American tribes across the country including, Cherokee, Mohawk, and Plains Indians. Chehaw was named after a tribe in the Creek Indian Confederacy which had three different settlements in Albany.

Chehaw Park's Natural Resource Manager, Ben Kirkland says, singers and dancers will start performing Friday morning when the school groups visit.

"We'll start with some flute music and well move on from there to some educational talk about Aztec dancing and the rest of the pow wow and tribal dancing," said Kirkland. "We'll get the kids involved with that."

Kirkland says crowd participation is a big part of the festival. Hey says the thousands of people expected this weekend will provide a big economic boost for the community as they stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants. Even though parking was a bit of an issue last year, he says it won't be this year.

"We had so many folks come in last year, we literally had to set up a shuttle to get folks in and out so we're prepared for that," Kirkland noted. "We will have several shuttles running so people won't have to walk a long ways. We'll also have plenty of handicapped parking close to the event."

The front gates have also been widened, making it easier for people to get in quickly from Philema road.

Kirkland says it costs about $25,000 to hold the festival, which includes advertising, hiring demonstrators and artists, having T-shirts made and more. Money raised at this weekend's event will go back into Chehaw's general fund for operation.

The festival will begin Friday 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the Animal Park. Tickets cost $5.25 for kids ages 4-12, $8.25 for kids ages 13 and up. They're free for kids 4 and under. People can still enter the main area of the park at the normal rate.

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