By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Once a year, crowds of Sandy Springs residents turn out for two days of fun for all ages. On Sept. 20 and 21, the 23rd annual Sandy Springs Festival will feature activities ranging from a 5- and 10-kilometer race to a tailgate zone where football fans can take in broadcasts of four college and two pro games.

Heritage Sandy Springs, which plans the festival, hopes to draw 20,000 people.

Andy Myer, the honorary chairman of the festival, said it will feature “good, old-fashioned, clean, American fun.”

“That’s kind of hard to find these days,” he said. “You’ve got great entertainment, great food from all the Sandy Springs restaurants and eateries. It’s a great way for the community to come together and have some fun.”

The festival is centered on Heritage Green and runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 a day or $7 for a two-day pass for adults and $2 a day or $3 for a two-day pass for ages 6 to 18.

In addition to such familiar features as the business expo and the Honey/Honeyette contest, the festival will have some new events.

For kids, there will be an advance showing of the animated movie “Bolt,” which features the voices of Miley Cyrus and John Travolta and will be released in theaters in November.

Some activities in the “teen territory” will be a bit riskier, such as bungee jumping and rock climbing, but the area also will include a giant pinball machine and miniature golf.

Christy Nickles, the special events director of Heritage Sandy Springs, said the collector car show will likely be a hit among adults.

“We’re trying to incorporate new cars as well as the antique cars, so a lot of Corvettes have signed on to come,” she said.

In addition to collector cars, several dealerships will display eco-friendly vehicles.

This year’s pet parade will be sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Sandy Springs, which will give awards for the most unusual and most colorful pets, the best dressed owner-pet duo, the best large and the best small pets, and the best pet of the show.

A runner in a giant, inflatable hamster ball will join the road race and pet parade.

The Freemasons of Sandy Springs will administer the Georgia CHIP program, an identification system in which they collect from a child a brief videotaped interview, fingerprints, a tooth bite impression and a DNA swab. Parents then can keep those materials for use in case the child ever goes missing.

For the whole family, the R&B band the Mighty Tams will perform Saturday night.

Myer said he’s optimistic about the efforts the festival’s volunteers have made. “It’s really a lot of fun to see the community put their best foot forward,” he said. “It gives you kind of a real sense of pride to be a living and working member of the community of Sandy Springs.”

For information or tickets, call 404-851- 9111, or visit www.sandyspringsfestival.com.