Valdosta Daily Times

September 29, 2012

Honey Bee Festival opens next week

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

HAHIRA —  If you’re wondering what’s that buzz, it’s the 31st Annual Hahira Honey Bee Festival.

The festival kicks off with a 7-9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, breakfast at the Community Center, Randall Street.  A senior walk is scheduled for 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, starting at the Community Center.

A free, public reception is scheduled for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Community Center.

The weekend events kick off 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, with the arts and crafts show and food. A gospel sing is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday behind the caboose downtown.

Arts and crafts continue from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, along with day-long entertainment on the stage behind the caboose; the Century Bike Ride, 8 a.m., Industrial Park, Sonny Rogers Memorial Drive; 5K run, 8 a.m., community center; Kids Zone, with inflatables, train ride, carousel, pony rides; a mechanical bull; Human Hamster Water Experience, etc.

At noon Saturday, Oct. 6, the Honey Bee Festival presents its famed parade, which has earned the reputation of one of the largest parades in South Georgia. The parade will feature Terry Norris, Georgia Sheriffs youth homes executive director, as the parade’s grand marshal, and Hugh Chancy as the honored citizen leading the parade, along with local pageant queens, area officials, and Shriners. The parade often counts thousands of visitors lining Hahira’s downtown streets.

Still, some folks new to the area may wonder, why does Hahira celebrate the honey bee with a festival?

The Honey Bee Festival pays tribute to years gone by when Hahira was considered the “Queen Bee Capital of the World” for its manufacture of honey bees.

In approximately 1920, the first honey bee business opened shop in Hahira. “This was with the establishment of the Puett Company that dealt with the raising of queen bees and the shipping of queens and package bees all over the USA and Canada,” wrote Louise Passmore on the Hahira Web site.  In 1953, Dadant & Sons opened a branch of its beekeeping supply firm in Hahira. Passmore worked for Dadant & Sons.

“At that time, the Puett Company and Dadant & Sons were located in an old two-story brick building which was originally a cigarette manufacturing plant back in the 1920s,” Passmore notes. “They made Happy Day and O’Teen Cigarettes. Even though Hahira became a flourishing tobacco area and bore the name of ‘Gold Leaf City of the South,’ the cigarette manufacturing bit did not flourish and was forced to close.”

Mamie Sorrell and Adeline Landrum started the Hahira Honey Bee Festival in the early 1980s.

More information: Visit the website

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