July 24, 2021

Brand new Christmas Event debuts December 5 at historic Flat Rock Campground

(Franklin, GA) — West Georgians and East Alabamians will get the opportunity to experience a brand new Christmas Event this year at Flat Rock Campground located on HWY 34 just a few miles west of Franklin.

‘Christmas at the Campground’ will take place at the historical venue on Saturday, December 5 from 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM.

The all day event will feature Santa Claus himself, holiday music, local artisans, craft and food vendors, live entertainment, and horse-drawn hay rides as well as tours of the historic hand-hewn timber framed arbor and the nature conservancy area where over 100 acres of flat granite rock are located.

Jim Rowe, the primary organizer of the event, says a variety of factors including COVID-19 helped give him the idea for the Christmas festival that will also serve as a fundraiser to help raise money for the Campground.

“Sheriff Ross Henry and I served on the board at Flat Rock for many years and we always have camp meeting each August,” said Rowe in a recent interview with The Heard Citizen.

“Ross’s brother John Henry had sold memorial lights and this year at camp meeting he told us he had added some new electrical outlets in case anyone ever wanted to display a nativity scene. I got to thinking about what John Henry said and with COVID and all I just thought this would be the perfect place for a larger Christmas Event and the idea grew from there.”

Rowe say he really wanted to make sure that Santa would be readily available for local children since his wife Dinah’s annual 4-H event, ‘Breakfast with Santa’ had to be cancelled this year also due to COVID-19.

Proceeds raised from the event will go towards some much-needed repairs, renovations and updating of the historic landmark which Rowe says is all very expensive given the age of the Tabernacle and other structures at the facility.

Mr. Rowe says the feedback he is receiving about the new event has all been very positive and he expects a large crowd to attend the event which takes place on the same day as the community Christmas Parades around Heard County.

Several corporate sponsors from around the area have helped to provide start-up costs for the event that is expected to become an annual event each holiday season.

Admission and parking are FREE for ‘Christmas at the Campground,” and there is also no charge for the wagon rides. A photographer will be available for photos with Santa.

Rowe says one great aspect of the event will be the amount of craft vendors will allow patrons to do some Christmas shopping while they enjoy all the other food and entertainment that day.

Available foods and refreshments at the festival will include coffee, breakfast biscuits, homemade soups and chilis, hot dogs, hamburgers, boiled peanuts, and a large variety of sweets. The venue will also serve as a drop off point for “Toys for Tots.”

The Flat Rock Camp Meeting, one of the two longest running events in Heard County history, takes place each year in the late summer.

The campground was originally built in 1876 and meetings have been held continuously ever since.

Two years after its inception, the open-air arbor was added. The unique structure is made of hand-hewn beams that were cut and pieced together with wooden pegs.

Families built cabins or ‘tents’ around the arbor for use during the meetings and some still exist today.

According to the ‘Heard County History’ book published in 1991, the structure was constructed by a bride builder named Mr. Foster James on 20 acres of land donated by Mr. A.D. Lashley.

Originally a Methodist establishment, the campground has no denomination now and the oversight is provided by a group of trustees.

Vendor space for ‘Christmas at the Campground’ is still available for the event. For more information about being a vendor or for any other questions regarding the event please call 770-833-6099.

The Flat Rock Campground is located four miles west of Franklin at 8006 GA HWY 34.

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