“Best of the Best”: Thousands Attend Kennesaw’s Big Shanty Festival

Over the weekend, downtown Kennesaw became a teeming center of activity as thousands congregated to observe the 48th annual Big Shanty Festival. Once again, the event demonstrated why it is among the most cherished celebrations in Cobb County—community spirit, a delightful parade, and a wide variety of vendors.

As soon as the festival began at 10 a.m. on Saturday, downtown Kennesaw streets were filled with enthusiastic attendees. The occasion began with a vivacious parade that showcased marching bands from high schools and numerous community organizations, thereby establishing an upbeat atmosphere for the entire day. Festival Chairman Marlon Longacre succinctly summed up the event’s ethos when he characterized it as a “hometown festival” laden with customs. “It is generational,” explained Longacre. “In twenty years, when you see infants in strollers, they will be the ones pushing the strollers.”

Longacre fervently drew a parallel between the festival and the “Daytona 500 of Festivals,” underscoring its significance and its pioneering status among regional festivals. “The initial one is the most significant,” he declared, emphasizing the festival’s standing as a vanguard of innovation.

Amid the imminent peril of adverse weather conditions on Sunday, the ambiance persisted in a positive manner, propelled by the optimistic outlook of Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling. “I can confirm that this is Kennesaw.” “Anything is possible,” Easterling exclaimed, praising the resilience and vitality of the community. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of maintaining a vendor count exceeding 300, as this not only stimulates regional trade but also amplifies the festival’s appeal.

Not only was the occasion a celebration of festivities, but it was also a community event. Easterling expressed his elation at witnessing successive generations develop in the community, remarking, “I’ve lived here long enough to have witnessed some of these children emerge from strollers and are now attempting to flee while their parents give me a high five.”

A significant number of attendees regard the Big Shanty Festival as an enduring tradition. Participating for the seventh time, Kennesaw resident Paul Diehl remarked, “My mother-in-law is ecstatic to see all the booths; simply being outside and interacting with everyone is an absolute delight.” Similar to numerous others, Diehl found the favorable weather that accompanied the occasion to be an additional source of delight.

Also present at the festival were former residents who were unable to resist. Traveling from Decatur, Kelly Vobejda remarked on the festival’s allure that compelled her to drive forty minutes in order to relive it. Vobejda, accompanied by her terrier Lilly, delighted in the sociable ambiance and the opportunity to procure early Christmas presents from the artisanal vendors.

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As time elapses, the Big Shanty Festival persists in encapsulating the essence of Kennesaw, commemorating its abundant cultural vitality and strong sense of community.

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