Tug-of-war highlight of River Fest event in downtown Newnan
by Sarah Fay Campbell
An enthusiastic crowd descended on downtown Newnan Wednesday evening to watch the canoe tug-of-war competition held on South Court Square in a large pool of water set up on the street.
The tug-of-war competition, which featured around 14 teams, was the highlight of the Chattahoochee Bend River Fest, a joint effort of the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park and Main Street Newnan.
The event was a way to welcome the 400 participants in Paddle Georgia 2014, a weeklong trip down the Chattahoochee River.
The paddlers are camping for two nights at Newnan High School as they float through Coweta County, and they came to downtown Wednesday to eat and to enjoy the music and competition.
Brian Schnitzer of Lawrenceville and Patrick Carey of Canton are participating in their fourth Paddle Georgia.
“We love it,” Schnitzer said. “It gets us out in the local community. We have a lot of fun.”
They were both surprised at the size of Newnan High School. Schnitzer asked if it is the county’s only high school.
The Environmental Club at Newnan High coordinated the tug-of-war, and club members also will be feeding breakfast to the paddlers today and Friday. The meal will feature compostable dishes, utensils and food, said club member Lollie Davis.
The club members put in a lot of work preparing for the event, said club sponsor Lindsey Kee. “These kids have been great,” she said. Kee was impressed with the the amount of support the event received from local businesses and organizations. “I’ve never been more proud to live in Newnan.”
Dean Jackson of the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend was pleased with the turnout. “We really appreciate Main Street partnering with the Friends to do this,” he said.
Before the tug-of-war began, a long line of children waited to take their turns paddling in kayaks.
“It’s a neat thing,” said Bill Headley, whose grandson Harris took a ride in a kayak. “It’s great that they’ve got this … we try hard to put on a good show in Newnan.”
Maao Kim and Steve Greene recently relocated to Newnan from Greenville, S.C., and were glad to see downtown events reminiscent of the ones they enjoyed in Greenville.
Kelly Jackson found the event “very family-friendly.” While at River Fest, she gathered information on an upcoming day camp at Chattahoochee Bend.
Lauriston Hardin talked to Ali Gordy, the new naturalist at the park, about Chattahoochee Bend’s trail system.
“This is awesome,” he said. “I love having events here.”
It was “another great opportunity for downtown Newnan to host an event for locals and visitors,” said Hasco Craver, Newnan director of business development.