Attendees, dead and alive, are encouraged to dress up like zombies and participate in a night of ghoulish excitement and fun, all for a good cause.
The event, which benefits Families of Cherokee United in Service or FOCUS, will feature vendors, zombies, food merchants, live music and a zombie costume contest. AMC’s “Walking Dead” fans may attend a rare VIP meet-and-greet with Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, at the historic Canton Theatre.
While admittance to downtown is a $5 donation for Cherokee FOCUS, to attend the meet and greet, it is a $50 fee for pre-orders and $60 at the door. The ticket to the VIP event includes a free photo for Riggs to sign, an autograph and photo opportunity, a limited edition zombie fest T-shirt, and a swag bag.
“The event is good for all ages,” said Sonia Carruthers, executive director and CEO of Cherokee FOCUS. “There will be people from all ages attending.”
Cherokee FOCUS is a community collaborative that has developed several initiatives to benefit the children and families of Cherokee County including Drug Free Cherokee, Cherokee Youth Challenge and Volunteer Cherokee.
FOCUS also operates the Cherokee Youth Works program for at-risk youth ages 16 to 21. Youth in the program get help with education, work readiness skills, job placement and life skills. Teens with children also receive parenting classes, and youth who are homeless get help finding shelter.
“FOCUS is proud to promote the concept of youth helping youth,” Carruthers said. “Chandler Riggs is an outstanding example of how the help of one teenager can potentially benefit so many that are less fortunate.”
Carruthers said that Riggs, who is from Woodstock, is a typical teen with a hectic schedule.
“He has a part-time job, but it happens to be starring in America’s No. 1 television show, ‘The Walking Dead’ and he has just completed filming a leading role in a new motion picture based on a Stephen King novel,” Carruthers said. “Finding a way to make time to help others in need says a great deal about this young man’s character, and we are so fortunate to have him as a youth partner.”
Kids attending the event can enjoy the Oak Leaf Church children’s area that will be offered on Main Street featuring inflatables. Safe Kids and Emergency Management will be at the event to promote zombie safety and preparation.
Events at the theater will also include a “Call of Duty Black Ops” video game tournament. There is a $25 registration fee, and only 20 spots remain.
At 10 p.m. “Night of the Living Dead” will be showing at the theater.
Zombie shirts, zombie drinks and a “brain” eating contest are among the attractions featured at the Zombie Fest. Zombie belly dancers will also perform a routine to Oingo Boingo.
Live music will begin at 5 p.m. in Cannon Park with Woodstock’s hard rock band, Red Tyde Rising. Georgia’s Country Music artist of the year, Thomas Fountain, will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. A disc jockey will also be playing throughout the event.
All attendees are encouraged to dress up but are not required. There will be booths for zombie make-up and hair.
A $5 raffle ticket can be bought to enter for four tickets to see Riggs. Locations where raffle tickets may be purchased include Chamber House, The Painted Pig, Keys Jewelry, and B. Loved. Additionally at the event, a raffle will be held for two “Walker Stalker Con” at a $400 value.
All proceeds will go to the nonprofit Cherokee FOCUS and Cherokee Youth Works. The program helps youth age 16 to 21 with education, work readiness and job placement and valuable life skills.
“This year, we have had a 96 percent success rate of GED attainment,” Carruthers said.
Attendees are encouraged to use designated parking areas. The Canton Police and Fire Department will be responsible for security, traffic and any medical needs.
For more information on the festival, visit cherokeefocus.org/zombiefest or the Facebook page for Cherokee Zombie Fest.