We're broadcasting our news live from Elrod Park, and just next door is an empty parking lot that will soon be a new pedestrian park. It's the centerpiece of a big sidewalk project funded through grants.
The sidewalks along highways 112 and 41 will be re-done with a stamp brick design. The area will be pedestrian friendly, handicap accessible and include trees and street lamps.
City officials say in addition to improving the look of downtown, they're hoping it will attract new businesses. "Downtown is the heart of your community. It's where most folks identify, it's where the businesses started and generated from and where a lot of your activity takes place. It's good for that commercial interest and good for the identity of your town," said Ben Taylor, Ashburn City Manager.
A similar project will be done along Carlos Avenue. Sidewalks will be added, boarding the Tom Whitsett Park. Construction for both projects are set to begin in January 2015 and will costs about $1.2 million.
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Ashburn is also home to the Fire Ant Festival, which brings in visitors from all across the country. More than 100 vendors set up shop downtown and there are plenty of wacky activities the whole family can enjoy.
This was the 19th year for the festival, held the fourth full weekend in March. It attracts thousands of guests to Ashburn every year, eager to see what a fire ant festival entails. "19 years ago they came up with it. They were trying to get up a name for it. And they were concerned that all the good names were taken. The local editor said why don't we call it "Fire Ant?" we got more than anybody else. So it sort of stuck," said Michael Geoghagan of the Turner Co. Chamber of Commerce.
The festival provides a big economic boost for the county of 8,100 people. It started out as a small event and has grown to include a barbecue cook off, car show, music and more. This year they added hot air balloon rides.
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