Elk Festival tradition continues

ATLANTA The 29th Atlanta Elk Festival is in full swing in downtown Atlanta and the streets are filled with vendors, locals and visitors enjoying everything the festival has to offer.

The Elk Festival brings people from around the state to Atlanta to celebrate the heritage of the town and some of the history involved with the festival.

“It started as an idea, and we formed a committee to bring more tourism here,” Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Secretary Barb Dice said. “Our first year there wasn’t a beer tent, and we had bales of hay along the streets for people to sit on. We made the buttons by hand with an old goofy machine.”

The Elk Festival buttons are a part of the tradition of the festival. Every year there is a new button, and locals and visitors have collections of the buttons dating back to 1985. Some of the buttons, like the 1991 button are rare, while others still can be purchased at the chamber.

“We were all trying to figure out something as a souvenir,” Dice said. “In 2010 we raised the price of the button to $2 instead of the old $1 ones, now we can hold three drawings for $500 prizes throughout the weekend.”

Each button has a number on it, and each year the numbers start with 001 and the chamber orders around 3,000 buttons each year. Festival buttons allow the wearer admission to the tent for the weekend.

Another activity buttons are involved in is the festival jail. According to Dice, the jail has been around for years, and always has been a fun way for locals to get involved in the festival.

“Someone issues a warrant for an arrest, or is caught without a button, so they get put in jail,” Dice said. “Our little jail has been beaten up over the years, and to get out you make a donation or have to sing a song or dance. It’s all comical fun.”

Buttons are a big tradition of the Elk Festival and will continue as keepsakes, souvenirs and collector’s items for future generations.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.