Lake Oconee Breeze

October 21, 2009

Briar Patch Festival to feature area artisans

By Natalie Davis

EATONTON — Area artisans just got another venue amid Lake Oconee’s thriving arts scene in which to showcase their works in what is hoped to be a successful inaugural festival next weekend in downtown Eatonton.

The Briar Patch Arts Festival, presented by Eatonton Better Hometown, is set for Saturday, Oct. 31 downtown in the historic courthouse square. 

The event will feature more than 60 vendors showcasing their crafts and specialty foods ranging from handmade soaps, photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery, wood working, glassware, clothing, potted plants and children’s clothing.

According to Eatonton Better Hometown manager Katie Smith, the idea for the new festival derived from feedback from the local community. Since the local community already hosts the annual dairy festival in June, the concept for the fall festival seemed like a nice fit. 

“When I started talking with different people in the community … they all kept talking about the fact that we needed more things downtown,” said Smith, who came on board as Better Hometown manager back in February. “They wanted something arts related.”

Initially, she said, the goal was to attract anywhere from 15 to 20 vendors to the festival, but the response has been much greater. 

All of the artisans featured at the festival will be showcasing handmade and homemade items, she said, including the food - which aims to be more than the typically festival-type fare. There will be homemade food items including freshly grilled burgers, chicken kabobs and baked goods. 

“What we’re offering is a lot of local handmade products that people don’t normally see,” said Smith. 

The festival will also feature a children’s area and live musical entertainment, all in a cost-conscious, family-friendly fashion, so patrons can enjoy the day without worrying about breaking the bank.

Admission to the festival is free of charge and so is parking, though patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the Better Hometown Booth for the Putnam County Food Bank.

“We have really striven to keep that very low-cost or even free,” said Smith. “The class of entertainment that people will be able to have that day is going to be really good.”

The Music Stage, sponsored by Plaza Arts Center, will feature live entertainment beginning at 10 a.m. with a children’s costume contest sponsored by the Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce. Music will be provided by Erica Sunshine Lee, the Dorsey Brothers Trio and Shane Bridges, all recognizable names and nationally renowned artists. 

Other sponsors for the event include Blackwell Furniture, Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee, the Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lake Country Navigator, Long Shots Sports Bar, The Peoples Bank, Roundtree’s IGA, Smith Communications and Z-97.

Raffle tickets will also be on sale at the Better Hometown Booth, for the chance to win a Fox Theatre Basket and two tickets to see the February performance of the Vienna Boy’s Choir at the Plaza Arts Center. There will also be a ghost hunt involving local downtown merchants with prizes and gift certificates.

Smith says the event and the efforts of the Better Hometown agency focus on building the area’s efforts to bolster the downtown community.

“We’re the only organization in the community that is 100 percent focused on making downtown the best it can be,” she said. “We just hope to have really good turnout.”