Thousands expected to swarm Ashburn for annual Fire Ant Festival - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thousands expected to swarm Ashburn for annual Fire Ant Festival

(Source: Fire Ant Fest) (Source: Fire Ant Fest)
Festival t-shirts are $10. (Source: WALB) Festival t-shirts are $10. (Source: WALB)
Stevi Thompson (Source: WALB) Stevi Thompson (Source: WALB)
Robby Royal (Source: WALB) Robby Royal (Source: WALB)
ASHBURN, GA (WALB) -

More than 25,000 people are expected to come out this weekend to the 21st Annual Fire Ant Festival in Ashburn.

Each year, the festival has a different theme with this year's being the Ants of Oz.

"I think people come out and enjoy it because we change our theme every year," Robby Royal, chairman of the festival, said.

Friday's festivities begin at 6:30 with a lip sync contest, live performances by The Young and Old Band, and fireworks starting at 9:30. 

Saturday kicks off with a Fire Ant 5K Run and a one-mile Fun Run.

Event goers can enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, carnival rides and more.

This year's festival features several new events including a health fair and a fly-in where 25 to 50 pilots from all over the southeast are expected to participate.

"That's something that we've done it in the past, but it's been a long time since we've done it so we're real excited to have that come in this year," Stevi Thompson said.

The BBQ Cookoff is expected to draw big crowds. Thirty-six teams from across the nation travel to Ashburn to compete. Winning teams get a cash prize along with a hand carved wooden trophy.

The two-day festival is the result of year-long planning and efforts from the Turner County community. Thompson says the festival has a great economic impact for the town.

"They're eating here, they're staying here, they're getting gas here, they're shopping at our shops," Thompson said. "It is a huge economic impact for us."

"We do it to try to bring business into Turner County," Royal said. "It's all about doing for our community."

Rain or shine, organizers say the rain won't put out the festival's fire.

"Even if it rains we're going to have a great time, but we're going to do a rain dance and it's going to go away," Royal said.

Admission to the festival is free and $20 for an armband for unlimited carnival rides. 

For more information and a schedule of events, visit the Fire Ant Festival website.

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