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Controversy Surrounds Folkston Easter Festival Once Again

4:50 PM, Mar 23, 2008   |    comments
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By Jackelyn Barnard First Coast News FOLKSTON, GA -- The Easter Festival in Folkston is back on but not without controversy. Last year, the festivities were cancelled. County Commissioners said the reason was drugs, alcohol and fights. This year, festival organizers worked with commissioners to get the 60 year tradition back on track. "The commission said they wanted it organized. So, we put a plan together to organize it and we gave them the plan. As far as we know it, they didn't have any problem with it," says organizer Ralph Bolden. Bolden says they gave commissioners a plan weeks ago. Minutes from the Commission's February meeting, say the plan was approved. But Bolden says days ago things started to change. "They're putting a time restriction on the park forcing us to cancel a lot of stuff that we had organized," says Bolden. Bolden says Charlton County Commissioners have cut festival hours short for Sunday. "The reason basically is public safety," says Steven Nance, the County's Administrator. Organizers say the county has also blocked parking in the area with "no parking" signs. County officials say it's because the park is in a residential area. "Streets have to be kept clear for safety reasons. We had a shooting three or four years ago and couldn't get the ambulance in," says Nance. Festival organizers say other parks holding festivities are not facing the same restrictions. Nance says it's because the park's are holding functions under control of the county and the parks are not in residential areas. "It's not fair," says Boldon. Who believes race may be playing an issue. "It's not a racial issue. Three of five county commissioners are black and said this is the way things have to be," says Nance. Bolden says he'll abide by the new rule changes, but he will confont the commission about the issue after the weekend.

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