2015 News Releases

July 15, 2015


In its ninth season, Broadway in the Park's 2015 production will bring nearly everyone's favorite flying car to Suwanee, introducing new generations to the captivating magic of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A mostly high school cast will bring the musical fantasy adventure, based on the 1968 film, to the Suwanee Town Center stage July 24 and 25. Performances begin at 7 p.m. both nights.

In addition to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a middle school cast will perform The Finish Line, an original musical written by Suwanee Performing Arts' Patty and Elise Etherton and Bernie Davis. The Finish Line features a young, rebellious girl who loves racing more than anything. The story ends at the 1910 Grand Prix, which is where the Chitty story begins.

"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun story for all ages," says Director and Production Coordinator Patty Etherton. "No matter who you are, you're going to love this show."

The play features fun characters, including the Child Catcher, Baron and Baroness Bomburst, Vulgarian spies, and Truly Scrumptious, as well as unforgettable songs.

Between the two plays, about 125 high school, middle school, adult, and child actors will perform. The production also will feature a live orchestra, the Broad Street Concert Band at Sugar Hill. And producers plan to employ projection (and great acting) to make Chitty fly.

In the past, the rain-or-shine performances have drawn approximately 4,000 people for each show. Performances are free and open to the public, but the best seating is reserved for corporate sponsors ($500 per six-person tables) and patrons ($250 per table). For reserved seating or "sitting-room only" seating reserved for families with small children ($10 each), contact Suwanee Performing Arts at info@suwaneeperforms.com or 678-482-6333.

July 7, 2015


The theme for the two movies to be shown when Movies Under the Stars returns to Town Center Park on Saturday, July 18, is "out of this world" – literally. Both movies have a space theme.

The recently released Home, an animated film about an alien on the run from his own people, will be shown at 7 p.m. The PG film features the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and Steve Martin. On RottenTomatoes.com, Bilge Ebiri with New York Magazine/Vulture said: "A surprisingly moving tale of friendship and family, dressed up as an adorably frivolous sci-fi comedy."

The second feature will be Galaxy Quest, a 1999 film starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman that received a 90 percent "fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com. "Boldly going where few parodies have gone before" [Kevin Courrier with Globe and Mail], the film follows adventures of the alumni cast of a space opera television series.  The movie, rated PG for some action violence, mild language, and sensuality, will begin around 8:45 p.m.

The movies are free and open to the public. Bring chairs, blankets, and snacks. No alcohol may be brought into the park, but food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from Town Center merchants.

June 29, 2015


TSW consultants working with the City of Suwanee to update the Downtown Suwanee Master Plan told participants in a recent email that the draft of the update "presents an exciting vision for new development, park space, street and greenway extensions, and more." Now, the planners and City of Suwanee are inviting residents to offer their input and "make sure [TSW and the City] got it right."

The draft of the updated Downtown Master Plan will be available for public review, questions, and comments at an open house from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. This is a drop-in event; no formal presentation will be made.

Previous Downtown Master Plan public meetings have included a March 5 kick-off and April 20 visioning workshop.

At the April workshop, planning consultants with TSW and Noell Consulting Group shared market analysis information and reviewed discussion topics while participants shared ideas and feedback related to parks and transportation as well as what kinds of uses and buildings might make for good additions to the Town Center and Old Town areas.

June 23, 2015


Suwanee City Council approved this evening a $14.8 million operating budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1. This budget represents a 9.2% increase over the $13.6 million budget adopted by the City last year.

The adopted 2016 budget assumes that the City's millage rate will remain at its current level of 4.93 mills; the millage rate is scheduled to be adopted by City Council in August.

Suwanee's $14,843,060 FY2016 budget includes $45,000 in continued funding for the City's downtown and public art master plans; three new positions and two position upgrades; a maximum 4% pay-for-performance salary increase for staff; and just over $763,000 for capital expenditures that include seven replacement vehicles for the police department and other personnel, two mowers and a chipper, and police dispatch console upgrades and other equipment. Health insurance expenses increased by 11 percent; the City will cover approximately two-thirds of that increase with employees picking up the rest.

The new staff positions include a floating administrative assistant, crime analyst, and a contracted pool of bailiffs to assist with court. One part-time custodian position will become full-time, and a police communication officer position will be upgraded to communication supervisor.

The budget also includes Suwanee's annual debt payment for bonds used to construct City Hall and several parks. That payment in FY2016 will be about $1.6 million.

"There are no surprises in this year's budget," says Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar. "When we look over our projections, we find that our revenues are coming in pretty much as predicted and our spending has been well planned also. There's not been any unexpected growth in expenditures."

As part of a fourth-quarter budget adjustment to the current FY2015 budget, City Council also approved tonight a $1.5 million transfer to capital project funds. This transfer, says Sakmar, is part of Suwanee's pay-as-you-go financing for future capital projects.

In addition, Council adopted a $34.9 million five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Transportation projects, including redevelopment of Buford Highway, road resurfacing, and additional sidewalks, account for 60%, or about $21 million, of the anticipated expenditures for these long-term capital projects.

June 16, 2015


Sculptures by Atlanta artist Hans Godo Fräbel, considered one of the founding fathers of modern flame glass art, will be on exhibit at Suwanee City Hall June 19-September 1. This represents the first time that all 14 sculptures in Fräbel's The Seven Sins and Virtues collection will be exhibited in its entirety.

The Seven Sins and Virtues exhibit at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue, will include a few additional pieces, including one from Fräbel's Botanical Garden series. The artworks will be displayed on both the first and second floors of City Hall and will be accessible for public viewing from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) will host an opening reception and artist's presentation on Thursday, June 25. The reception begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall; Fräbel, who is an NGAA member, will discuss his training and career as a scientific glassblower-turned-artist and the technique of flamework in the second-floor City Council Chambers beginning at 7 p.m. Both the reception and presentation are open to the public.

"We encourage and welcome members who want to share what they do with fellow artists and the public," says NGAA President Vickie Johnson. "What a wonderful honor when our members give of themselves in this way. Fräbel's presentation demonstrates his support for the mission we represent through his generosity in sharing his artwork, stories of his life as an artist, and the successes and achievements experienced throughout his artistic career."

David Copeland, former gallery owner and Fräbel Glass representative, describes The Seven Sins and Virtues sculptures as "whimsical and dark at times." He adds that the Suwanee exhibit offers the artist an opportunity "to exhibit sculptures in which he has great pride in completing such a technically difficult series of sculptures."

Copeland explains that Fräbel's specialty is in creating hollow figurative forms without the use of casts or molds. The artist uses a desk-mounted special blowtorch and carbon-based tools to work with borosilicate glass, a hard glass that requires much more heat to soften and shape. "His expertise makes it look easy," Copeland says, "but ask another flameworking artist about creating a hollow human form in borosilicate glass."

Fräbel began his glass career as a scientific glassblower with Jena Glaswerke in Mainz, Germany. In 1965, he took a position in the glassblowing laboratory at Georgia Tech. He studied art at both Emory University and Georgia State University and established the Fräbel Glass Art Studio in Atlanta in 1968.

Fräbel art pieces can be found in public and private collections in more than 80 countries worldwide. Two of Fräbel's most famous works are Hammer and Nails, which was first exhibited in 1979 at the New Glass Art Exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York and has been displayed at major museums throughout the world, and the playful, cavorting clowns that were part of the Absolut Vodka advertising campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

May 27, 2015


The City of Suwanee will host two events the first weekend of June: Food Truck Friday on June 5 and a double-feature Movies Under the Stars on Saturday, June 6.

The tentative food truck line-up includes Atlanta Burger Truck, Bollywood Zing, Five Finger Philly, Pressed for Time, Freckled and Blue, Happy Belly, Linkz Express, On Tapa the World, Rey's Cuban Café, Wow!, and Yoli's Street Food. The musical line-up, presented by Town Center Music, features Jon Cole and Liz Brasher & Her Band. Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. with music starting about 7.

Two movies will be shown during the June 6 Movies Under the Stars event. The 7 p.m. movie, to be shown on a digital board, is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This 2014 film starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner is rated PG for rude humor. "Alexander is funnier than one would expect," says Blake Goble of Consequence of Sound on RottenTomatoes.com. "In a weird way, it's full of refreshingly cranky, dorky goofing."

The third installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 1, will be the second feature, shown on an inflatable big screen starting around 8:45 p.m. Jenifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, who fights to save a nation moved by her courage. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and some disturbing images and thematic material. Critic Richard Roeper declared the film "A solid lead-up to the finale [due out in November]."

Bring blankets, lawn chairs, and friends, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Beer and wine may be purchased from Town Center merchants.

May 19, 2015


The deadline to apply to be part of this year's "amazing," award-winning Suwanee Fest is quickly approaching. Exhibitor and entertainment applications for the September 19 & 20 festival are due June 1. Artists, crafters, entertainers, and food vendors may apply online at suwaneefest.com.

Suwanee Fest recently was named Best Festival by the Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA). The festival, which brings approximately 50,000 people to Suwanee's Town Center Park each year, also received three additional awards from SFEA.

"Business has been amazing," said Marissa Hudson Loose, a pottery exhibitor, of the 2014 festival. "Amazing traffic and consistent buyers. I love the amount of attendees and the percentage who are buyers."

Suwanee's annual "celebration of community," Suwanee Fest includes arts and crafts exhibitors, a variety of delicious foods, eclectic on-stage entertainment, a parade, and children's rides and activities.

May 14, 2015


Suwanee's annual Memorial Weekend concert will feature bluegrass and classical performances this year as well as a musical salute to the troops.

The Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach concert will kick off the Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 22, at Town Center Park. The event will open at 7 p.m. with the Silver Wings, the official demonstration parachute team out of Fort Benning, "dropping in" – weather permitting.

At 7:15 p.m., Main Street Symphony, an adult amateur orchestra associated with Huthmakers Violins, will stage a classical performance.

Darin and Brooke Aldridge, a husband-wife duo and their band, will take the stage around 8:30. One of the hottest young acts in acoustic music, the Aldridges have received multiple nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association, the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, and Inspirational Country Music Association. The band's website says: "There is a sweetness and a lightheartedness in their music with positive lyrics and the occasional sense of just plain fun."

April 29, 2015


2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour Artworks & Artists

Ball and the Red Staircase by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
BRD by Michael Dillon – Milton, GA
Capacious by Isaac Duncan – Chattanooga, TN
Carry Forward by Joey Manson – Central, SC
Cascade by Gregory Johnson – Cumming, GA
Corey by Jonathan Bowling – Greenville, NC
Cow on a Horse by Jim Collins – Signal Mountain, TN
Dancer XX by Jack Howard-Potter – New York, NY
Faith by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Father & Son by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Friends by Nnamdi Okonkwo – Fayetteville, GA
The Herd by Phil Proctor – Atlanta, GA
Love Hurts by Lee Benson – Jackson, TN
Oak Leaf Horizon by Jim Gallucci – Greensboro, NC
Sunflower Gate by Andrew T. Crawford – Atlanta, GA
Taking Flight by Jennifer Freeman – Duluth, GA
Three Muses by Hanna Jubran – Grimesland, NC

The 2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable public art exhibit in and around Town Center, is bringing more – in some cases, a lot more – than ever before. The exhibit officially opens May 16 during the Arts in the Park festival.

  • This, Suwanee's fourth SculpTour exhibit, features more sculptures than ever: 17.

  • It includes more local artists: Six of the 15 artists represented are from Georgia; other artists are from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York City.

  • Dancer XX, a 20-foot tall galvanized and powder-coated steel sculpture created by Jack Howard-Potter, is the single heaviest sculpture to ever be included in a SculpTour exhibit. Weighing in at 2,700 pounds, this kinetic sculpture of a male figure, who stands on one leg with his arms raised and holding a long piece of fabric, rotates with the wind.

The 2015-17 exhibit is weighty not only in poundage. While several pieces represent the forest canopy and sunflowers or a variety of animals – birds of prey, cows, horses, goats, and birds in flight – several pieces reflect the artists' perception of heavy topics. Some of the themes addressed include the pain of love, looking forward optimistically while absorbing losses of the past, unattainable success, notable attributes of friendship, parent-child relationships, the dichotomy of science and faith, and the concept of awareness.

Decatur artist Phil Proctor describes his sculpture The Herd, a collection of eight steel-fabricated, grazing  goats: "All too often we find ourselves immersed in work, worry, or just the everyday tasks of life, and our awareness of self and our place is clouded. There is one goat that raises his head up to sense his surroundings. As he does, he sees all the other goats with their heads buried. He experiences the beauty of his surrounding while the others only see what's right in front of their nose…. It's a reminder to look up and remember what's really important in life."

In their proposals, several artists commented on the irony of trying to, as Howard-Potter states, "capture movement in a medium that does not move."

A walkable public art encounter, Suwanee SculpTour is a program of the Public Arts Commission. The 2015-17 exhibit will be on display through March 2017.

April 28, 2015


The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) is making bold, colorful promises about its May 16 Arts in the Park festival.

"It's going to be a wonderful day for folks to get out and see some things that inspire and educate them," says NGAA President Vickie Johnson.

Attendance at the annual festival, which will be take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Town Center Park, is free.

Arts in the Park will feature the work of about 50 juried artists, showcase onsite artist demos, encourage several create-it-yourself community art projects, and include music and food. Also, the 2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable public art encounter, will be officially unveiled at the festival and a public art piece will be created onsite during the festival.

"Today's society is such a fast-moving one – it seems that we are always in a hurry and don't take the time to really stop and appreciate what is around us," says Johnson. "Arts in the Park gives our community that time to slow down and take a good look at what people just like them have been able to create…. We have quality artists, fun events, good music, and great food."

A chalk walk competition, open to elementary, middle, and high school students, will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with winners announced at 4. Registration is available at suwaneeartsinthepark.com. In addition, professional street artists will create long-lasting 3D chalk drawings around Town Center Park.

Other community art activities include paint-a-wreck, create a (Jackson) Pollock-like painting, and do-it-yourself tie-dye shirts. Proceeds will benefit the Rosemary Benavides Williams Student Art Scholarship and support art initiatives set forth by the North Gwinnett Arts Association.

Throughout the day, a DJ from Uptown Entertainment will provide music that fits the Peace, Love & Arts in the Park theme. Clyde's on Fire, an Asheville-based, female-fronted bluegrass band, will close out the festival with a live performance.

For additional details about Arts in the Park, visit suwaneeartsinthepark.com.

April 28, 2015


2015 Woofstock Schedule of Activities

12 pm Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show
12:30 pm Agility, High Jump, Hoops Demo
1:30 pm Frisbee Toss & Fetch Demo and "How to…"
2 pm Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show
2:30 pm Brandon Crocker
2:30 pm Agility, High Jump, Hoops Demo
3:45 pm Frisbee Toss & Fetch Demo and "How to…"
4 pm Slippery When Wet
5 pm Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show
5:45 pm Andy Grammer
6:30 pm Air Dogs Dock-Diving Exhibition

Hips will be swaying and tails will be wagging Saturday, May 9, when Andy Grammer takes Suwanee's Town Center stage as musical headliner at Woofstock, Star 94's annual pet party in the park. Woofstock features canine Frisbee and dock-diving demonstrations, dog contests, food trucks and a beer garden, pet adoptions and vendors, and live music.

Activities will get underway at noon and wind down around 7 p.m. Furry, four-legged attendees on a leash are welcome. Admission to the event at Suwanee's Town Center Park is free. See a schedule of activities below.

"Woofstock is a great event for our four-legged friends," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "The dogs are well-behaved, and the demos a lot of fun to watch. This year, we're really excited about the quality of musical performers. Star 94 is bringing in Andy Grammer as the headliner. We've been bopping around City Hall the past week to his 'Keep Your Head Up.'"

Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Brandon Crocker will open with a 2:30 p.m. performance. At 4 p.m., Slippery When Wet, the ultimate Bon Jovi tribute band, will perform with Grammer taking the stage around 5:45 p.m.

Grammer is best-known for his hits "Fine by Me" and "Keep Your Head Up," which went gold and platinum respectively, from his self-titled 2011 debut album. He's currently touring and promoting his sophomore album Magazines or Novels. Singles from the album include "Back Home" and "Honey, I'm Good." Grammer got his start as an entertainer on the streets of Santa Monica.

No alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park, but food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from event vendors and Town Center merchants. Parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street.

April 22, 2015


Trees, flowers, and art are in bloom along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and in Suwanee parks. Throughout the month of May, those out enjoying nature in several of Suwanee's parks may also discover – and keep – art pieces.

Created by Suwanee area resident Tina Waltke, red clay hearts with warm, fuzzy Suwanee statements will be hidden daily (two pieces at a time) along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and at Sims Lake Park and White Street Park throughout the month of May. Suwanee's Art on a Limb program is an annual celebration of art and nature that allows those who find the trail treasures to keep them.

After finding an Art on a Limb piece last year at Sims Lake Park, Karen Newell, academic coordinator with the Emory University School of Medicine, posted on her Facebook page: "So how cool is this????? I found this piece of art and a note on a bench in the park this morning while walking my dog. At first, I thought just leave whatever that is, someone lost it and will come back to get it, but decided to get closer and read the note. What a great idea and way to start the day as a recipient of a random act of kindness, makes me want to put gifts out for others to find."

A sign language interpreter by day, Waltke is a chronic – perhaps even compulsive – craft-maker who doesn't like going to movie theaters because she can't work on crafts there. "I feel like I just have to do it," she says. "It's not a choice.

"If you know me long enough you'll definitely have something that I've made whether you want it or not," adds this maker of pottery, stained glass, and needle-felting creatures.

"I love the idea of Art on Limb," Waltke says. "It's a sweet and giving concept, to give people something while also encouraging them to explore Suwanee's trails and parks."

April 21, 2015


Suwanee's May 1 Food Truck Friday event will feature a variety of food choices, from spicy to savory, as well as high school jazz performances.

Night of Jazz performances will begin at 7 p.m. High school bands from Collins Hill, Flowery Branch, North Gwinnett, and Peachtree Ridge will perform.

Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. The tentative food truck line-up features Chay J's New Orleans Candies, Fry Guy, Hail Caesar, Island Chef, Loaded Burger, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, Tex's Tacos, Viet-Nomie's, Wow!, and Yumbii.

The City of Suwanee hosts Food Truck Friday at Town Center Park the first Friday of each month April-October (except in July).

April 13, 2015


Your creativity + Suwanee Fest's "For the Love of Suwanee" theme could = $500! But only if you get your 2015 festival design submissions in by May 1.

The winning creator of the 2015 Suwanee Fest theme logo, which will be used on official festival t-shirts and marketing posters, will receive $500. The competition is open to professional and amateur designers of all ages. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Entries should be submitted in printed and electronic formats. Visit suwaneefest.com for competition guidelines and an entry form.

Suwanee Fest is the community's annual two-day fall celebration and was named the Southeast Festivals and Events Association's best festival in 2014. The 2015 festival will be celebrated September 19 and 20 and includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended the festival at Town Center Park.

April 9, 2015


As part of the update to its Downtown Master Plan, the City of Suwanee will host a visioning workshop at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue.

"This is going to be a fun, hands-on workshop," says Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell. "It will offer participants an opportunity to help the City visualize how best to grow Town Center.

"Inevitably downtown Suwanee will grow," he adds. "We want to ensure that that growth enhances – and doesn't detract – from people's experience of downtown. This workshop will help us understand how different uses and forms of development can shape a place, and specifically our community-gathering place."

After a brief presentation about market conditions in Suwanee, designers with TSW will draw in suggested developments on top of existing aerial photos of downtown Suwanee so that residents – and planners – can better visualize how certain development options will fit with existing uses.

About 80 people attended the public kick-off for the Downtown Master Plan update on March 5. The City shared details about the Buford Highway reconstruction project, which is expected to get underway in 2016. This ongoing downtown project will include bike lanes, wide sidewalks, on-street parking, and installation of a traffic roundabout at Russell Street to provide an entryway to historic Old Town.

City Council is expected to adopt the Downtown Master Plan update this fall.

April 8, 2015


The 2013-15 Suwanee SculpTour exhibit has officially ended, but two of the 14 pieces that were part of the 22-month walkable public art encounter will remain in Suwanee as part of the City's permanent art collection.

The Suwanee Public Arts Commission, using donated funds, purchased Iron Canopy by Phil Proctor as the People's Choice award-winner. The 17-foot-tall kinetic sculpture derives its inspiration from the magic of trees and represents the idea that life supports life. Its permanent location has not yet been determined, but Iron Canopy will remain in its current location in Town Center Park near the intersection of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road through the next Suwanee SculpTour exhibit, which will be on display May 2015-March 2017.

Dick Cunningham with Ippolito's Restaurant is purchasing the Who Let the Dogs Out? collection of sculptures by Jim Collins and is donating the piece to the City. This sculpture also will remain in its current location, in Town Center Park along Buford Highway, for the next nearly two years.

"We're purchasing the sculpture in memory of our granddaughters' Uncle Rob," says Cunningham. "It will be a lasting memorial to our son who was killed in an accident.

"The artwork is great and attracts people to come to Town Center Park," Cunningham adds. "It really adds to the family feeling you have when you're there. It's hard to explain, but you feel it in your heart."

Throughout Suwanee, more than 20 public art pieces are on permanent display, including those owned by the City as well as artworks that have been purchased privately through the City's voluntary 1%-of-construction-costs-for-developers program.

The 2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour exhibit, which will feature 17 artworks in and around Town Center, officially opens May 16 as part of the Arts in the Park festival.

April 2, 2015


The City of Suwanee is hosting a sharp new event this spring. Suwanee's Big Cheesy Festival on Saturday, April 18, will feature cooking demos as well as cheese and beverage pairings, on-site cheese sculpting, food trucks and other vendors offering cheese-related products (including grilled cheese doughnuts), an artisan market, human foosball tournament, and live musical performances, including headliner Cole Taylor, presented in cooperation with Kicks 101.5.

This free event is from 2-10 p.m. at Town Center Park. Featuring select vendors selling unique cheeses and complimentary products, the artisan market will be open from 2-6 p.m.

"We're excited to be offering this event, which allows us to really embrace our cheesiness," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Who doesn't love food and music, and the human foosball games are going to be a blast. We hope everyone comes out.  We promise it's going to be a 'gouda' time."

Sarah Kaufmann, aka the Cheese Lady, will be on hand creating an oversized cheese carving. Kaufmann earned a Guinness World Record for creating the world's largest cheese carving at the 2011 Wisconsin State Fair – a 925-pound cheese roller coaster. She'll educate the audience about cheese and, perhaps best of all, share edible samples from her carving.

The human foosball tournament, from 2-5 p.m., will have teams of six players (with up to two alternates allowed per team) vying for the title of "Big Cheese." Youth ages 8-17 as well as adults may play. More information and registration forms are available at suwanee.com; the registration fee is $25/team. The deadline for registering is Friday, April 10.

Musical performances will kick off at 5 p.m. with Georgia-raised Colby Dee, who has been identified as "one to watch" by CM Chat, Got Country, and Country Rise. Georgia native Travis Denning , who has performed in Nashville several times this spring, and Loganville resident and Broken Bow recording artist Jordan Rager, who appeared on season two of The Voice, also will perform.

Headliner Cole Taylor, another Georgian, from Cuthbert, and an up-and-coming country artist, will take the stage at about 8:30 p.m. Taylor,  a singer/songwriter who signed with Universal Music Publishing Group after being in Nashville just nine months, has a new extended play release, featuring "Break That Lonely" and penned Florida-Georgia Line's single "Sippin' on Fire."

March 30, 2015


At the end of 2014, the City of Suwanee participated in its fourth National Citizen Survey, a statistically valid survey managed by the National Research Center that gathers resident opinions across a range of community issues. As in previous years, Suwanee residents' ratings put the City of Suwanee at or near the top in a variety of areas as compared to other communities across the country.

In fact, residents rated Suwanee higher than other participating communities across the nation in eight categories. Across the 127 categories Suwanee residents were requested to rate, Suwanee scored in the top 10 in 27 percent of them.

"The National Citizen Survey remains an important tool for us to gauge citizen satisfaction," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We always learn a little something about ourselves as a community through the survey, and it's good to know that the City of Suwanee continues to be headed in the right direction."

The City of Suwanee was ranked #1 compared to other benchmarked communities in the following areas:

  • City-sponsored events
  • job Suwanee government does welcoming citizen involvement
  • overall built environment
  • availability of affordable quality childcare
  • overall confidence in local government
  • generally acting in the best interest of the community
  • being honest
  • treating all residents fairly.

Included in the 26 other areas in which Suwanee was ranked among the top 10 nationally are the categories noted below. Also noted is the rank Suwanee achieved as well as the number of other participating communities who included that particular category among their survey questions:

  • quality of overall natural environment (#5 of 234)
  • overall direction Suwanee is taking (#2 of 277)
  • preservation of natural areas (#4 of 219)
  • economic development (#3 of 240)
  • neighborliness (#3 of 81)
  • services provided by the City (#7 of 377)
  • overall appearance (#10 of 308)
  • City parks (#2 of 275)
  • vibrant downtown/commercial area (#5 of 79)
  • positive impact of economy on household income (#2 of 216).

Suwanee was ranked lower than other benchmarked communities in a seven areas, including bus or transit service, use of public transportation, and citizen participation in volunteer opportunities.

Survey results from 2014 continue to indicate that Suwanee residents are highly satisfied with the community's overall quality of life:

  • 96% rated Suwanee's quality of life as good or excellent
  • 98% said Suwanee was a good or excellent place to live
  • 97% found Suwanee a good or excellent place to raise kids
  • 96% would recommend living in Suwanee.

When the City asked survey-takers who had moved to Suwanee after January 1, 2009 to score the most important factors in their relocation decision, they rated the following as essential or very important:

  • police/public safety (92%)
  • Suwanee's neighborhoods (90%)
  • community appearance (88%)
  • overall community feel/vibe (86%)
  • Suwanee's park system (83%)
  • school system (78%).

The 2014 National Citizen Survey was sent to 1,200 randomly selected City of Suwanee addresses in November. The response rate for surveys was 22%. The National Citizen Survey is endorsed by the International City/County Management Association and the National League of Cities.

March 27, 2015


Food trucks will roll into Suwanee's Town Center Park the first Friday of each month April-October (with the exception of July). Suwanee's first Food Truck Friday event of 2015 is next week on April 3.

"We've been amazed at how excited and passionate the community is about this event," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Suwanee people love their food trucks, and they really want to know who's going to be there and what's going to be served."

Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. each month, with live musical performances beginning at 7 p.m.

"Town Center Music is coordinating our bands this year," Doherty notes. "We're excited at the level of talent and variety of music that they'll bring to the community."

The bands performing in April are Sunset District, an indie-rock collective based in Atlanta, and Littlebrother, formerly the Jon Harkey Band, who lean toward smooth pop-rock with folk influences.

The tentative food truck line-up for April 3 includes Atlanta Chamos Grill, Down the Bayou Cajun Cuisine, Freckled and Blue, Happy Belly, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Pressed for Time, On Tapa the World, Tasting Maine, Tracy's Tasties, and Yolis Street Food.

March 20, 2015


As part of its commitment to being a Tree City USA, the City of Suwanee will plant elm or oak trees behind the Municipal Court/Crossroads Center at 323 Buford Highway. Volunteers are needed to assist with the planting at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 28. To volunteer, contact City Planner Dan Robinson at drobinson@suwanee.com.

"While planting an oak or elm tree might sound arduous, we promise that helping to plant these trees really is not back-breaking work. Just about anyone can do it, and it's a great way to give back to the environment and to make an impact on the community for many years to come."

The City of Suwanee has been a Tree City USA for 25 years.

March 19, 2015


Two messages that author and bottom-up community development guru Peter Kageyama hammers home in his book For the Love of Cities are that little things matter a lot and that creative, innovative, and engaged citizens are essential to producing vibrant, lovable communities. Kageyama will explore these topics and inspire residents to work together to make Suwanee even more loveable when he offers a community workshop from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the George Pierce Park Community Center.

Area residents are welcomed to participate in this free workshop, hosted by the City of Suwanee. Please email love@suwanee.com to let the City of Suwanee know that you will be attending.

Kageyama notes in For the Love of Cities: "Cities are not directly responsible for being fun. Certainly they play a huge role in facilitating fun, but ultimately fun comes from the people who live in the community. The city may be a squelcher of that fun, or it can figure out how to nurture, support, and maybe even amplify the fun being produced by its citizens…. [T]he city is a venue, a stage, a playground, a canvas, a meeting place, and a market as well as its other more traditional definitions.

"Simply put," he adds, "government alone cannot create the vibrant cities we want to live in."

A community and economic development consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Kageyama has been called the "Urban Cupid" and has spoken all over the world about bottom-up community development and the people who are making change happen. His second book, Love Where You Live, was published earlier this year.

March 13, 2015


The 2014 Suwanee Fest recently earned four Kaleidoscope Awards from the Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA), including Best Festival. With exhibitor and entertainment applications now being accepted for the 2015 Suwanee Fest, artists and performance groups are invited to apply to be part of this multi-award-winning community festival.

Suwanee Fest will take place September 19 & 20 at Town Center Park. The festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended Suwanee Fest.

Exhibitor and entertainment applications are available at suwaneefest.com. The deadline for applications is June 1.  (Guidelines and entry forms for the 2015 Suwanee Fest design competition for the themed t-shirt logo also are available at suwaneefest.com. The deadline for these entries is May 1.)

"Suwanee is a great festival because...you're going to get the really heavy traffic," said 2014 exhibitor Julie Wettlaufer of Designs by Jewel. "I just love the atmosphere of Suwanee Fest. It brings a really nice crowd."

In addition to naming Suwanee Fest the Best Festival in the "budget over $75,000" category, SFEA also awarded the festival for:

  • Best Volunteer – in recognition of Chair Janis Beavin's multiple years of service and for leading the festival as it transitioned from a one-day to two-day event.
  • Best Creative Idea – for hosting a Blast a Storm Trooper activity in place of what would have been an unused sponsor booth.
  • Best t-shirt – the Suwanee Fest t-shirt won a silver award in this category.

The awards were presented February 17 in Chattanooga during the Southeast Festivals and Events Association's annual conference. More than 100 entries were received from organizations in five states.

March 11, 2015


Suwanee appears fun, outdoorsy, artsy, and snowy in the dozen winning photographs that comprise the 2015 Snap Suwanee exhibit currently on display at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue.

Sixty entries were received for this year's annual community photo competition. The winning photographs will be on display until February 2016.

"Snap Suwanee has become one of the City's favorite community engagement projects," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "It's always fun to see what strikes our photographers as noteworthy from year to year. This year's winning photos capture moments one doesn't see every day in Suwanee – from a hot air balloon in Town Center to snow to a paddleboarder on the Chattahoochee. They also capture those moments that are more ubiquitous, including folks interacting with public art and utilizing Suwanee parks as backdrops."

The winning photos and photographers in the exhibit are:

'A Beautiful Fractal'
Diana Duffield

'Christmas at Town Center'
Sean & Zane Tackett

'Four Ladies in Hats at the Lake'
Carla Hoff

'Heal the Past. Live the Present. Dream the Future.'
Terri Lynn Bealle

Lesa Kelley Osborn

'Little Smokie – Pig in the Park'
Connie White

'Never Forget!'
Sharron Callahan

'Paddleboarder on the Chattahoochee'
Kelly Haggard Olson

'Past Meets Future: International Space Station over Historic Suwanee'
Kristen Fredriksen

'Magical Moments'
Dallas Gillespie

'A Walk in the Woods'
Suwanee Creek Greenway

'Winter in Old Town'
Sandy Weaver

March 9, 2015


New teen drivers and their parents are encouraged to register by this Friday for the Suwanee Police Department's free two-hour Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) program. The class will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The course focuses on driver attitude, knowledge, and behavior. Rather than a technical, hands-on driver training program, PRIDE addresses seat belts, crash dynamics, Georgia's teen driving laws, parental influence, and peer pressure.

The course is free and open to the public, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is required by Friday, March 13; registration forms are available at suwanee.com. A parent or guardian is required to attend with their teen.

The City of Suwanee Police Department offers PRIDE in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.

March 6, 2015


With assistance through the Charge Georgia Rebate Program, the City of Suwanee is working to install an electric vehicle fast-charge station at Town Center for public use. This will be the first fast-charge station to be installed by a municipality in Gwinnett County.

The dual-head, level-three charging station, expected to be installed by this summer, will be available 24/7 and capable of providing an 80 percent charge to most electric vehicles in less than 30 minutes. (By comparison, level two stations, such as are available in Buford and Peachtree Corners, require approximately four hours to provide a full charge, and level one stations take up to eight hours or more.)

The City of Suwanee will work with EnviroSpark Energy Solutions of Atlanta to install the EV Fast Charger system. Two parking spots at the back corner of City Hall on Savannah Square Street will be reserved for electric vehicles using the station, which will have two connectors, one which will serve SAE J1772-enabled vehicles while the other connects to CHAdeMO-enabled vehicles.

The City is still working to determine rates as well as whether the station will be available on a first come-first served or reservation system.

The cost for purchasing and installing the system is expected to be approximately $50,000 with 50 percent, up to $28,422, reimbursed to the City through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority's Charge Georgia program.

"It's really exciting to be able to offer an environmentally sensitive service such as this," says Public Works Director James Miller. "This effort continues the City's commitment to sustaining our environment, as signaled previously by LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]-certification for City Hall as well as certification as a Green Community through the Atlanta Regional Commission. But the electric vehicle station also serves to give folks another reason to come to Town Center and further promotes downtown Suwanee."

February 16, 2015


The City of Suwanee will officially kick off its second update to the Downtown Master Plan at a community meeting at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Originally adopted in 2002 and last updated in 2009, the Downtown Master Plan provided the foundation for development of Town Center.

This Downtown Master Plan update, which will include a market analysis, design charrette for targeted areas, and other opportunities for public input, is intended to determine the kinds of development that will be appropriate for downtown.

"The original Downtown Master Plan," says Planning Director Josh Campbell, "was one of the biggest factors in transforming Suwanee into what it is today. Hopefully, this update will have similar transformative effects. As the economy is picking up, we anticipate significant development opportunities over the next several years. Downtown Suwanee is by no means a finished product, and we're looking forward to broadly programming additional pedestrian-oriented, mixed uses in the area while respecting the character of what we already have."

In addition to considering specific development opportunities in the downtown area, the plan will focus on transportation, open space, and connectivity. The area in the study covers Town Center and Old Town and includes the entire Downtown Development Authority area.

Additional information is available on the Community/Downtown Master Plan page at suwanee.com.

February 5, 2015


Suwanee's Citizens Police Academy allows residents a better understanding of the day-to-day functions of police officers as well as an opportunity to patrol Suwanee's streets alongside an officer. The next academy will be offered Monday evenings March 9-May 11. Classes will be from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Suwanee Police Training Center, 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Notarized applications are due Friday, February 27. Guidelines and applications are available at suwanee.com.

The academy offers classroom training and hands-on experiences in crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification and provides an understanding of the risks and responsibilities of officers. The program is designed to open and maintain communication between citizens and the police department.

Classes are free and open to the public, but space is limited and preference is given to Suwanee residents or those who work in the City of Suwanee. A criminal and driver history background is required for all applicants. For additional information, contact Theresa Miranda at tmiranda@suwanee.com or 770-904-7669.

February 4, 2015


A total of 48 events, including 19 runs/walks, six Food Truck Fridays, numerous traditional favorites, and several new events, are sprinkled throughout the City of Suwanee's 2015 calendar. Each event brings 300-55,000 participants to Town Center Park or other Suwanee locations.

New events include the Big Cheesy Festival on April 18, Chili Cook-Off on May 2, Melanoma Awareness event on May 31, and Alive! Expo on October 24. The full calendar of new and returning events is available on the What's New/Events page at suwanee.com.

Suwanee's very popular Food Truck Fridays are back the first Friday of the month April-October, with the exception of July. Also back are favorites such as Suwanee Beer Fest on March 14, Woofstock on May 9, Arts in the Park May 16, and Taste of Suwanee October 10.

Broadway in the Park returns to the Town Center stage July 24 and 25 with performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Suwanee Fest, Suwanee's two-day "celebration of community," will be September 19 and 20.

Here are a few changes to the 2015 Suwanee events calendar:

  • The Suwanee Farmers Market, which opens May 2, will be Saturdays only this year; there will be no Tuesday afternoon markets. The market will be open 8 am-noon Saturdays through October 3.
  • The Memorial Day weekend kick-off event is being reworked and tentatively will be rebranded as Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach.
  • All Movies under the Stars presentations – on June 6, July 18, and August 29 – will be double-features.

January 20, 2015


Create the winning logo for the 2015 Suwanee Fest and earn $500. The winning 2015 Suwanee Fest theme logo will be used on official festival t-shirts and marketing posters. The theme for the 2015 festival, to be celebrated September 19 and 20, is "For the love of Suwanee."

The competition is open to professional and amateur designers of all ages. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Entries should be submitted in printed and electronic format. The deadline for submissions is May 1. See suwaneefest.com for additional guidelines and an entry form.

Suwanee Fest is the City of Suwanee's annual two-day fall celebration. The award-winning festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended the festival at Town Center Park. For more information, visit suwaneefest.com.

January 13, 2015


The season of fresh produce, lovely flowers, and yummy baked goods returns to Suwanee when the City's Farmers Market opens on Saturday, May 2. The market is in search of farmers, herb and flower growers, butchers, bakers, jams and soap makers, and others to participate in its 11th season.  Vendor applications are due March 30.

"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, and baked goods."

The Suwanee Farmers Market does not accept arts and crafts, non-licensed products, or produce re-sold from other markets. Visit suwanee.com for additional guidelines and an application.

Vendors who have been part of the Suwanee Farmers Market for less than two years are required to attend the annual Farmers Market meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. In addition, all farmers may be subject to facility inspections by the market manager.

The Suwanee Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May 2-October 3, at Town Center Park. The City of Suwanee will not host Tuesday markets this year.