Thursday, March 25, 2010

4th Annual Fiesta Atlanta Returns to Centennial Olympic Park on May 2nd

/PRNewswire/ -- Lanza Group's largest festival, Fiesta Atlanta returns to Centennial Olympic Park on Sunday, May 2 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

"We are proud Fiesta Atlanta has become the largest celebration of Cinco de Mayo with a hugely diverse crowd," says Lanza Group President Ralph E. Herrera. "Centennial Olympic Park is the perfect setting in the heart of Atlanta, with plenty of green space for families."

Fiesta Atlanta is a free, daylong festival that features a full day of live Latin music on two stages, with national and local recording artists. The children's stage lineup includes lively, colorful acts including Mexican folkloric dancers, clowns, musicians and storytellers. Artists will be selling handmade traditional crafts and delicious Latin foods such as tacos and aguas frescas will be for sale. The festival's partners will provide samples of their products and interactive displays.

Centennial Olympic Park has been the site of Fiesta Atlanta since its inception in 2007; attendance has grown steadily year by year. Fiesta Atlanta has evolved from a predominately Hispanic event to include the entire community with more crossover artists, international arts and crafts and a fun filled atmosphere for all to enjoy. Fiesta Atlanta begins at 10 A.M. on Sunday, May 2 and ends at 7 P.M. For more information, visit

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Jekyll Island Authority Announces 2010 Georgia Coast Birding and Nature Festival

/PRNewswire/ -- Today the Jekyll Island Authority announced they will produce the 2010 Georgia Coast Birding & Nature Festival, scheduled for October 7-10 on Jekyll Island. The Authority has hired Lydia Thompson as the festival's Event Coordinator.

Started in 2002, this marks the eighth year of the Georgia Coast Birding and Nature Festival. Annually this event brings bird watchers from around the world to Jekyll Island and the Brunswick-Golden Isles area to view the numerous migrating bird species.

"The Georgia Ornithological Society and the Coastal Georgia Audubon Society have done a terrific job executing the festival for the past seven years. We are happy to take over responsibilities with their support to ensure the festival's continued success," said Eric Garvey, Chief Communications Officer for the Jekyll Island Authority.

The Georgia Coast Birding & Nature Festival features numerous field trips, exhibits, and educational sessions related to birding, wildlife viewing, and environmental awareness. Experienced guides show visitors how to spot various birds, learn their calls, and identify their species. Quick field trips are also offered to young bird watchers to introduce them to the hobby and instill an appreciation for the environment.

"It is due to the enthusiasm and passion of our partners and volunteers that the Georgia Coast Birding & Nature Festival continues to grow," said Lydia Thompson. "I cannot wait to work with them again this year as we continue to foster a love for birding while raising awareness of our coastal environment."

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go Fish! Angling Opportunities Plentiful in Georgia

Spring is on the way, and as the weather warms and people begin venturing outside, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages families to get outdoors and Go Fish!  Whether you are fishing for trout in the mountains, bass on a lake, or red drum on the coast, Georgia has a place for you.

“There are year-round fishing opportunities in Georgia,” said DNR Commissioner Chris Clark.  “And beyond that, fishing gives everyone a chance to participate, from kids trying for their first fish to the angler who wants a serious challenge.”

Opportunities for First-Time Anglers

Research shows that most people are introduced to fishing by a family member, and most consider a family member to be their best fishing friend.  For adults who want to give children their first angling opportunity, consider joining other first-timers at a Kids Fishing Event.  Held throughout the state, these popular events provide instruction from knowledgeable professionals and are meant to make a child’s fishing experience fun.  To celebrate that first catch, be sure to print off a “My First Fish” certificate and frame it together with a photo.  Tips on taking children fishing, kids fishing events and the “First Fish” certificate can be found at (select “Fishing,” then “Kids Fishing”).

Know Where to Go

Looking for a place to Go Fish? Georgia’s ten public fishing areas are outstanding family-friendly examples, and there is one within an hour’s drive of all residents.  These areas are managed for fishing, with bass, catfish and bream the main species to target. Many of these areas also provide other activities, such as hiking trails, picnic areas, camping and more.  Visit and select “Fishing” and then “Public Fishing Areas.”

State Parks Offer Great Fishing Opportunities

Many of Georgia’s state parks also provide great fishing opportunities, and 25 of them even allow visitors to borrow fishing equipment as part of the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program.  Anglers and their families can also enjoy the parks’ nature trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and ranger programs.  For a relaxing getaway, state park visitors can stay overnight in rental cottages, hotel-style lodge rooms and cozy campgrounds.  Visit for more information.

Head to Georgia’s Coast for More Angling Opportunities

Saltwater fishing calling your name?  Be sure to check out angling information on red drum, sea trout, flounder and more at the Coastal Resources Division website - and click on Saltwater Recreational Fishing.  Also visit to learn more about saltwater fishes of Georgia.  Along the coast, state parks such as Crooked River and Skidaway Island offer affordable places to stay.

Fishing Prospects

Want to find out how the fishing is on a water body near you?  Experienced and beginner anglers will find helpful information in the annually updated Georgia Fishing Prospects.  These documents detail the “need-to-know-info” on more than 30 lakes and 18 rivers, including best bets and species specific techniques.

Catch one for the Record Books?

Anglers have two opportunities to receive recognition for great catches with the Angler Award Program and the State Record Program. Angler awards recognize those who catch a fish that meets or beats established weights (for kept fish) or length limits (for catch and release).  State records recognize those who catch a fish that beats a current state record.  For more information on these programs, visit and select “Fishing” and “Angler Resources.”

“Go Fish, Georgia” is the latest in a series of outdoor adventure tips from DNR Commissioner Clark that highlight affordable getaways, outdoor activities close to home, and creative ways to support conservation in Georgia.  The series is part of DNR’s “Get Outdoors, Georgia” initiative, which encourages citizens to lead healthy, active lifestyles in the great outdoors and includes hiking, biking and paddling clubs, as well as outdoor events.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fitzgerald Wild Chicken Festival Struts its Stuff (and Success)

Fitzgerald has reason to crow over its Wild Chicken Festival.

The annual celebration set for March 19-20 is going strong 10 years after organizers converted the former rattlesnake roundup to focus on the town’s wild Burmese chicken population.

Barry Peavey, festival co-chair with Ricky Haggard, calls the switch in 2001 “really the best move the festival made.” “It’s much more community oriented,” Peavey said.

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources applauded the change, noting declining eastern diamondback rattlesnake populations and the illegal and destructive practice of gassing gopher tortoise burrows to collect rattlers. The division now announces the festival in partnership with the community.

Peavey has high expectations for turnout in 2010, despite a recession that has affected financial support. “Last year, we had in excess of 6,000,” he said. “This year, if there’s good weather, I’m expecting 8,000.”

Festival features vary from the Kiwanis Wild Chicken 5k Sprint to a Miss Wild Chicken Pageant, a crowing competition, wing-eating showdown and a chicken soup art contest. Crafts, food and concerts will also grace a historic downtown district rich in blooming azaleas and, of course, wild chickens. Admission is free, although there are fees for some activities.

The main draw at rattlesnake roundups, which are still held in Georgia in Claxton and Whigham, is diamondback rattlesnakes collected by snake hunters. Yet, although started by communities to remove the threat of rattlers near houses and businesses, today’s roundups include only a fraction of so-called nuisance snakes, said John Jensen, a senior wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. Most of the rattlesnakes come from areas far away and even from “wild” lands where they pose virtually no danger to people, Jensen said.

“The roundup aspect of these festivals today is so limited in participation and interest that it could easily be replaced with captive snakes without impacting the success of the events, and without contributing to further declines of this magnificent predator and the many other species that seek shelter in gopher tortoise burrows,” he said.

Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County sport diverse wildlife and the state’s only resident population of wild Burmese chickens. The chickens were stocked across Georgia in the 1960s as a game bird for hunting. Populations dwindled and even disappeared elsewhere, but they prospered in Fitzgerald.

Switching the theme of the city’s festival has spread awareness of the ecologically important role rattlesnakes play as natural predators in Ben Hill County and surrounding areas, Jensen said. The hope is that other rattlesnake roundups will also convert to wildlife and family friendly festivals, or at least drop the roundup aspect and focus on information entertainment regarding rattlesnakes.

The Wild Chicken festival, which the Fitzgerald Jaycees play host to, always includes a Love ’em or Hate ’em poll on the chickens, which, according to, wake residents in the morning, occasionally slow traffic and possibly keep bug populations down.

Peavey said the Love ’ems always win the poll.

Festival organizers, he added, “don’t take sides.”

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Friday, March 12, 2010