The Braves are holding their annual winter FanFest this weekend at the Georgia World Congress Center. It's going to be a busy weekend downtown, so while I'd like to encourage people to attend, I also suggest you bring lots of patience. There will be a merchandise show at the Americasmart that is expected to draw over 100,000 people. The Congress Center will also be hosting the Atlanta Boat show (something you may also want to attend). To top it all off, there is a Thrashers game on Saturday night and a Hawks game on Sunday afternoon.
The Braves seem to be prepared for this glut of traffic by offering free parking:
That might be the best option to avoid all the traffic on the surface streets and to avoid paying $20 to park at the GWCC. If you do drive down by the dome or the GWCC and you'd like to hang out at a bar on Saturday after the FanFest, might I suggest the Elliott Street Deli & Pub. It's not really a family joint, but they have great sandwiches and plenty of beer, and I'm sure they'll have the NFL games on.
Here is a listing of all the players, coaches, and alumni who will be attending:
Braves players confirmed to attend and participate in various interactive activities including skills clinics, autograph sessions, photo stations and more include: John Smoltz, Mark Teixeira, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Tom Glavine, Tim Hudson, Chuck James, Kelly Johnson, Matt Diaz, Javy Lopez, Peter Moylan, Buddy Carlyle, Mike Gonzalez, Jeff Bennett, Blaine Boyer, Will Ohman, Chris Resop, Royce Ring, and Joey Devine.
Braves coaches attending FanFest include Roger McDowell, Terry Pendleton, Brian Snitker, Chino Cadahia, Frank Fultz, and Alan Butts.
Braves alumni participating at FanFest will include Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, Brian Jordan, Marquis Grissom, Mark Lemke, Greg McMichael, Jay Howell, Mike Devereaux, Brian Hunter, Pete Smith, Sid Bream, Greg Olsen, and more. Braves "Rising Stars" taking part in the festivities include Clint Sammons, Josh Anderson, and Zach Schreiber.
Click the Read More button below for listing of some of the events which will be available at the FanFest.
Atlanta Braves Autograph Stations - Three autograph stations will feature a rotating marquee of Atlanta Braves players, coaches, alumni, and top prospects from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Atlanta Braves Photo Station - Fans can stop by the Atlanta Braves Photo Station to pose for photos with Braves players, coaches, alumni, and top prospects. A life-size Atlanta Braves team photo cutout and replica Braves dugout will also be on display for photo opportunities.
Braves Clinic Field - Fans can learn from the pros on the Braves Clinic Field, one of two indoor baseball diamonds at FanFest 2008. Braves players, coaches, alumni, and top prospects will lead hitting, fielding, and pitching clinics throughout both days of FanFest.
Throw with a Pro - Braves fans will have the opportunity to play catch with Braves players, coaches, alumni, and rising stars.
FanFest Main Stage - Atlanta Braves broadcasters will host conversations between fans and players, coaches, alumni, and future stars. Other entertainment featured on the FanFest main stage will include performances by the Braves Heavy Hitters drumline, Tomahawk Team, and local bands.
Braves Ticket Sales Center - Popular ticket packages including a full season ticket package for only $249, a FanFest exclusive four-game ticket package featuring Opening Day for as low as $44, as well as premium locations for the half season, weekend, and twenty game plans will be available at Braves Ticket Sales Center.
Atlanta Braves Foundation Community Corner - Braves memorabilia, including game-worn Braves jerseys, autographed baseballs, bats, photos, lineup cards, and game-used equipment will be on sale at the Atlanta Braves Foundation Community Corner. New in 2008, the "Community Closet" will feature an array of collectible items on sale for a substantial discount as the Braves clean their closets to make room for new memorabilia in 2008. Fans will also be able to purchase custom-inscribed Atlanta Braves Foundation Legacy Bricks (www.braves.com/bricks) that family and friends will see on permanent display in Turner Field's Monument Grove for generations to come.
Braves Reading Dugout - Children can stop by the Braves Reading Dugout to hear their favorite books read by Atlanta Braves wives and surprise celebrity readers.
Home Run Derby - Braves FanFest 2008 will feature two indoor baseball diamonds where fans can test their skills. On the Home Run Derby wiffle ball field fans can try to go deep in a downsized version of Turner Field.
Baseball Skills Challenges - Fans will enjoy a wide array of games and activities that will test their baseball skills including three major league batting cages. Pitching prospects can clock their fastballs at the Speed Pitch Challenge, while speedsters can time themselves racing home at the Steal Home Challenge. Younger fans will enjoy playing in their own batting cage at The Little Sluggers T-Ball Challenge.
Baseball Hitting Range - Four pitching machines will keep the baseballs coming as fans swing for the fences at the Hitting Range.
KidZone - Homer the Brave and members of the Tomahawk Team will stop by to play with Braves fans 12 and under in the KidZone, where giant inflatable games will provide nonstop entertainment.
Braves Museum and Hall of Fame - Historic Braves artifacts, including the 1995 World Series Championship trophy and jerseys from Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta will be on display for fans to see at the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame exhibit.
Negro Leagues, Latin-American Beisbol, and Women in Baseball - Three traveling exhibits will explore the rich history of the Negro Leagues, Latin American Beisbol, and Women in Baseball. Fans can take a step back in time and view historic artifacts, photos, and memorabilia on display.