HAHIRA— The HoneyBee Festival is coming back this September.
The popular Hahira celebration will return for 2021 after it was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, gor the first time in nearly 40 years, there were no marchers, no vendors and no Shriners in their clown cars.
“We’re very glad to be coming back,” said Lana Hall, chairman of the Honey Bee Festival committee. “We are an all-volunteer organization of about 25 core people who plan and execute the festival. We are non-profit and all of our funds go back into our community. We help our schools, food bank, churches, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch special needs, bee-keeping education, veterans’ needs, summer children’s lunch program, Cub Scouts, Jacobs Ladder, Shriners’ burn centers, just to name a few.”
When the festival returns Sept. 25 for a week of events, the theme will be “Protect Our Youth — Preserve Our Future,” honoring the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch near Hahira.
is as follows:
7-9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27 — Community Kick-Off Breakfast at the train depot.
8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28 — Community and Senior Walk at the train depot. Sponsored by the Hahira Lions Club.
2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 — Brown Bag Lunch at the train depot, honoring the teachers of the year. Participating Hahira restaurants will offer $5 brown bag lunches, Hall said.
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 — Free hot dogs at Martin McLane Funeral Home at the corner of Church and Grace streets.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 — Arts, crafts and food booths, plus a kids zone, water slides, live entertainment and a climbing wall.
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 — More arts and crafts and a kids zone, plus train rides and bull riding, plus a 5K run/walk. Free parking will be available at Hahira Elementary School with a shuttle to festival area, plus a cooling station and baby changing station.
Saturday will also be the day of the Honey Bee Festival parade, starting at noon, billed by the organizers as “the largest in South Georgia.” Bands, floats, clowns, antique cars and tractors, local officials and horses will be a part of the proceedings.
Among the returning parade participants are the Shriners, the fraternal order best known for supporting children’s hospitals and wearing fezzes.
Hall said the Shriners have been a part of the Honey Bee Festival since the beginning in 1981 — all thanks to a comedy album.
In 1980, country comedian Ray Stevens released the song “The Shriners’ Convention,” following the adventures of Shriners “Illustrious Potentate” Bubba and “Noble Lumpkin” Coy as they represent the Hahira delegation at the “43rd Annual Convention of the Grand Mystic Royal Order of the Nobles of the Ali Baba Temple of the Shrine.”
Most of the song consists of Bubba’s side of a phone conversation in which he lambasts Coy for disgracing Hahira with his antics at the convention — “How’d you get that motorcycle up there on the high-dive, Coy?”
The song became a hit, putting Hahira on the map, and the Shriners, taking it all with good humor, began showing up at the Honey Bee Festival. Hall said that at this year’s parade, they will once again bring their trademark clown cars and motorcycles.
For the record, Hahira has never actually had a Shriners’ temple of its own.
he Honey Bee Festival celebrates the small South Georgia town’s past participation in an industry, which no longer has a presence in the area. In 1920, the first honey bee business opened shop in Hahira and it became a hallmark industry for the town for several years.