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Hinton festival going strong, saving tax dollars

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Nancy Roland did a happy dance after winning in the cake walk at Hinton Volunteer Fire Department’s Fall Festival.


Despite a hotly anticipated Georgia Bulldogs game at the same time, hundreds of people turned out for the Hinton Volunteer Fire Department Fall Festival, an annual fundraising event for the west end station. 

“We’ll have 400 people in here after 7 p.m.,” said station chief Jerry Edwards. “After the cake walk we’ll put more tables up on that end of the station and it’ll be jam packed with people playing until after 10:30 tonight.” 

The evening opens with what could easily be argued as the largest cake walk in north Georgia, possibly the state. Hundreds of numbered blocks have been printed on a massive vinyl sheet placed on the floor. 

Participants start walking the numbered pathway when the music starts, then find a square when it stops. Richie Hancock, MC for the night who had a bird’s-eye view from a balcony, called out a number that’s drawn. If you’re standing on the number, you win a cake. If there’s no one on the number, volunteers down below signal it’s empty. 

“Nobody home,” Hancock says before the music cranks up again.  

Participants pay $1 for three walks. That night volunteers gave away 90 cakes, some homemade like a pineapple upside down cake and a peanut butter cake, and others that were store bought.   

Bingo comes right after the cake walk. People pay $1 a card and battle it out for a variety of door prizes that are donated to the cause. Raffle tickets for other coveted items like a Big Green Egg and a laptop are also sold with winners announced at the end of the night.  BBQ is served the entire day.

“People can come out with $20 or $25 dollars and play all night,” Edwards said. 

The festival has remained a wildly popular event with west enders and others in the community, and has been going stong since 1986.

        Every year the volunteer station raises thousands of dollars to support their services. The station, built in 2003 according to county records and located on Highway 53 West at the Highway 136 Connector, is owned by the Hinton Volunteer Fire Department. Prior to that, the department held the fundraiser in a much smaller building nearby.

“This fundraiser is how we paid for this station,” Edwards said, “and we were able to pay in cash and move here.”

While the county supports the station by covering costs like utilities and fire trucks, the fundraising money goes toward a variety of other things including items that go on the fire trucks like hoses, Jaws of Life, and other equipment.

“The community has always supported us and this keeps taxpayers from footing the bill, and people come out and have a good time doing it,” Edwards said.