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Play at the Park draws thousands of attendees

The weather on Saturday was perfect for having some fun in the sun, try some new foods and hang out with the family, and lots of local residents made the most out of the picturesque day at Fowler Park.

On Saturday, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and Forsyth County Parks hosted the 16th annual Play at the Park Family Fun Festival at Fowler Park, where more than 10,500 people attended to check out booths from local businesses, food trucks and even hot air balloon rides.

“Everyone is having so much fun,” said Michele Daniels, director of tourism for the chamber. “There’s so many dogs and families here just having a good time… It’s just so great seeing all the smiles and the laughter. It’s really refreshing to see.”

Wayne's Trains was a popular attraction on Saturday as it circled Fowler Park.

In addition to the large number of visitors, about 50 local businesses and groups had booths set up to give out information, get prizes and meet the community.

“We’ve had a couple of vendors that I couldn’t even actually walk away from the tent because they were raving about how much fun they’re having and the great interactions they’re getting from the community members they’re talking to, as well as some fantastic leads too,” Daniels said.

At a booth operated by World Jiu-Jitsu Academy, sensei Sean Kilgus and other instructors were showing kids how to throw some simple boxing combos.

“They seem to be having a really good time,” Kilgus said. “The kids, we just had a large group of them lined up just a few minutes ago hitting the pads and stuff like that. They really enjoy that. They’re having a good time doing this.”

Greylee Welman smiles after taking a ride down an inflatable slide at Play at the Park.

Many of those booths gave away gifts and prizes, delighting sisters Sophia and Mya Dowling.

“I like all the prizes,” Sophia said. “It’s really fun here because we get to see a lot of new things.”

Mya added that her favorite part was “definitely the prizes.” The two said they came away with erasers, coloring books, crayons and “lots of candy.”

At several of the booths, local groups handed out information on local needs, non-profits and other causes.

“I’m thinking that even if people don’t come to our booth, they still walk by and they still read what we have up here, so it kind of goes into their brain,” said South Forsyth High School student Vasu Kapoor, with the group Be Smart, Don’t Start.

Kapoor said her group teaches students and families the dangers of opioids and vaping but began with a more traditional message.

“Initially when I was started this group, I was working for tobacco awareness, but now teenagers don’t smoke as much anymore,” she said. “It’s about opioid use and vaping and JUULing, [which] are becoming increasing issues in our society today.”

Several government agencies were also on display, including vehicles from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s office and Forsyth County Fire Department.

“The first was to go to the firetruck,” said Priyanka Jain, who was attending with her 6-year-old son Sam. “He was interested in seeing the firemen and the firetruck, and he really enjoyed that. After that we’ve been circling around and looking at the different stops here.”

Attendees also had a chance to grab some grub from several food trucks offering all kinds of fare.

“The food trucks have definitely been my favorite part,” said Carla Wilson, who said it was her family’s first time coming to the event, “but for my daughter, I think the bouncy house was the best part for her.”

Her daughter, 3-year-old Grace, seemed to agree, and Wilson said she was impressed with the turnout.

“I think it’s a good way for businesses to network and for the community to come out to see what all is available,” Wilson said. “This is pretty cool. It’s a lot. I thought it was going to be small, but it’s pretty big for this size.”