The Bruce Week's Family Band will be heading up the Bluegrass Gospel Entertainment on Sunday, October 7 of the Georgia Marble Festival.
For 2012, organizers of the Georgia Marble Festival will add a significant change to the festival when it opens on the first weekend in October.
In addition to the quarry tours and parade, this year’s edition will feature the “Georgia State Bluegrass Championships” on the festival grounds. It will also bring a night-time headliner bluegrass concert to close out the first day of the two day festival.
Chamber President Denise Duncan said they decided to make the addition to bring new life to the 32-year-old Pickens festival.
This is the first time the chamber has included a night-time attraction on the festival grounds at Lee Newton Park. Previously they have hosted a country music concert at the high school and have worked with the City of Jasper and their Main Street Mania concerts to have something in downtown during the festival weekend.
For the bluegrass event, the chamber is adding a second concert stage to the festival. Ernie McArthur, the co-chair of this year’s event, along with Dave Garner, the chairman, said they will have the local acts on one stage and have the bluegrass competition going on a second stage. Festival organizers said they recognize the importance of providing a spot for local acts from cloggers to singers to martial arts demonstrations but want to be able to also have the bluegrass acts, expected to come from across the region.
Duncan and McArthur envision Lee Newton Park with the grassy fields, trees, creek and an old cabin as a perfect venue for the bluegrass.
McArthur said the evening concert will be a great way to incorporate the Main Street Mania excitement into the existing Marble Festival. Main Street Mania is on hold this year due to construction at the courthouse spot where crowds used to congregate for the monthly events.
McArthur, who is already working to organize the bluegrass competition, said he has been surprised to hear how devoted serious bluegrass fans are to certain styles and competitions. He said they have already lined up recognized judges. But these judges asked their names not be released to prevent groups from lobbying them ahead of time, which has happened at other events.
McArthur said bluegrass festivals and competition are a big draw across the country, but there wasn’t a major one already during the fall in North Georgia. Hopes are that the Georgia State Bluegrass Championships will become a recognized competition for this area.
There will be prizes awarded for fiddle, bass, mandolin, guitar and full band.
The competition between the acts will run through the normal festival hours with the concert starting Saturday night in the evening. Festival tickets for the day will be good for the concert as well. The amusement park rides will continue to operate Saturday night and vendors at the festival will be encouraged to stay open for the concert.
Duncan said the chamber is working to revamp the festival and seeing what is working well at other North Georgia events. “We are looking at other festivals and we will put out a competitive product here,” McArthur said.
One perennial problem faced by festival organizers is since the festival began 32 years ago, is the declining amount of marble on display in the arts competition and among the wares for sale on the grounds.
Festival organizers are inviting anyone with marble products or marble art works they would like to display or a marble craft they could demonstrate to contact them.
“We are working to expand our arts presence and hoping to have marble pieces on display and to have some working sculptors showing their craft,” Duncan said.
For more information on the festival or bluegrass competition call 706-692-5600.