The name has changed but the spirit remains the same. This weekend, Lakeland and Lanier County host the OutdoorFest, formerly known for the past several years as Georgia’s Deep Woods Deer Fest. As it has in the past, this festival features outdoor activities and equipment, special guests and the main attraction: a bountiful wild-game supper.
Name change or not, this event seems to grow each year, but the story of how it came to be never grows old.
Organizers created the Deer Fest to fund the move of the old Lanier County High gymnasium from Downtown Lakeland to the city limits on Highway 221.
Deer Fest did its job, raising the thousands of dollars to quarter the old brick building, hoist those segments onto the backs of four large trucks and haul them to the edge of town.
Deer Fest proceeds paid for splicing the old gymnasium back together in its new location. Those raffles and wild-game supper tickets funded converting a gymnasium into an arts center.
The old gym became the Jim and Mary Threatte Art & Civic Center. A few years ago, organizers held the Deer Fest in the new building, creating a triumphant moment. The fundraiser to make an arts and civic center possible was at last being held in the center it had funded to create.
It’s a beautiful facility, too. Take some time this Saturday and visit the Jim and Mary Threatte Art & Civic Center. Look around, enjoy the sights and marvel at the dedication it took to accomplish the building’s Big Move and conversion.
But don’t forget to eat amidst all that marveling!
The Eighth Annual OutdoorFest (formerly Deer Fest) will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Threatte Center campus, 209 S. Highway 221, Lakeland.