Leaves are falling and a chill is in the air. October has rolled around. Pumpkin patches, jack-o’-lanterns, apple picking, hayrides, fall festivals, children and adults in costumes, trick-or-treating and sugar comas. Those are a few things that say it is indeed October in Buford.
This October, a few of those things are missing or at the very least modified to work around the pandemic. Perhaps the hardest hit October tradition is that of the fall festivals. They have either been canceled or are being done in a virtual format. This year makes one wistful, yearning for the “good ole days.”
The good ole days in Buford were always filled with fun family events and were often associated with the Buford City School System. Halloween in Buford was a festive time and the native Bufordites have plenty of memories to share.
Every year, Buford City Schools held a fall festival and has continued this tradition with the exception of this year. While festivals in recent years have been held in the parking lot of the Buford City Arena, past fall festivals were held at the old Buford High School football field that is behind where the Buford Community Center is today. Only part of the old stadium remains. The festivals were also held at the old Buford City Gym at South Hill Street and School Drive.
“(I) loved the carnival that the schools did at the old football field,” Elizabeth Howard said. “(My) most vivid memories there are of people paying to smash the old junk car every year and lining up to win a goldfish that would die every year a few days later.”
“I remember dressing up for the fall festival at the high school,” Lisa Walker Garbiel said. “They had the car you would smash and a tent where you would put your hand in weird stuff like eyeballs (boiled eggs?) and worms (spaghetti).”
Smashing the old junk car was perhaps the most popular thing to do at the fall festivals, but those goldfish were highly coveted despite their reputation for going belly up just a few short days later. No doubt the mystery bucket of weird and gross things was equal parts disgusting and intriguing. People fought over chairs just to get their hands on the best cake in the annual cake walk.
In the ’80s and ’90s, people remember going to haunted houses. One was held at the old Bona Allen Tannery building that was located behind the Bona Allen mansion that burned to the ground.
“I remember in middle school (92-94) going to a haunted house at one of the old Tannery buildings (the one that burned behind the Bona Allen Mansion),” Natalie Thompson Cooper said. “Scared me to death!”
Even though the fall festivals of recent years looked a bit different than the fall festivals remembered here, they were still all about a day where the community showed up and had fun together. Hopefully, 2021 is much kinder to humanity and life can go back to what was considered normal.