Musicians, restaurants showcased at Americus Hot Glass and Craft Beer Festival
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the last two editions, the Times-Recorder has written about two important aspects of the recent Americus Hot Glass and Craft Beer Festival, held in downtown on April 8. While the festival gave glassblowers from around the country and craft brewers from around the state the opportunity to showcase their wares to the local community, the festival included many other things for patrons to enjoy. Festival participants were offered the opportunity to show their enthusiasm for music and food at the festival as well. In the final part of the newspaper’s coverage of the exciting event, these aspects of the festival as well as some of the impact that the festival had on the local community are covered.
By Michael Murray
AMERICUS – The inaugural Americus Hot Glass and Craft Beer Festival in downtown offered something for nearly everyone, in addition to the event’s mission to highlight Georgia-based craft brewers and Americus’ long history of supporting the art of glassblowing.
Several vendors came from all over the city to ensure that festivalgoers could enjoy a great meal on the sunny afternoon as they danced to the sounds of the musical acts hired to perform at the event.
Three different bands performed at the festival, with the Albany-based Evergreen Family Band opening the festivities.
As a local musician and guitar player for another featured act, the Plucktones, Patrick Owen was the ideal choice to help assemble the lineup of musicians to perform at the event.
Owen recently spoke with the Times-Recorder to discuss the musical aspect of the festival.
“I feel like it went great,” he said. “The musicians that we’re working with are all grade-A talents. The Evergreen Family Band started the show off and they were fantastic. Then, the Plucktones went on and there hasn’t been a single problem so far. It’s been great. We were blessed with Pickled Holler, with Jeff Mosier assisting them. So far, it’s been great.”
Owen went on to explain that, in addition to the Evergreen Family Band, two more groups were to be featured at the festival, including local trio, the Plucktones, and the Athens-based Pickled Holler, with special guest, Jeff Mosier.
At the end of their set, members of the Evergreen Family Band, spoke with the Times-Recorder as well.
Asked how they were enjoying the event, band member, Tyler Norton of the string quintet, said, “It’s an absolute blast. There are really good beers, really good food, and great music … Any time we get to play in Americus, we love coming here. It’s always a great crowd … really great people.”
“It’s a pretty town,” his bandmate chimed in. “It has a great downtown area. We come here any time we can.”
Asked if they would be interested in returning in the future for the next Americus Hot Glass and Craft Beer Festival, each member of the Evergreen Family Band enthusiastically agreed, “Of course!”
During a set by the Plucktones, an Americus-based trio composed of locals, Owen, John Teate, and Bradley Laird, music fans at the event were invited to dance in front of the stage and enjoy the group’s up-tempo renditions of traditional bluegrass favorites.
To cap off the afternoon, Americus native, Matthew Williams and his wife, Jessica Williams, who perform under the moniker, Pickled Holler, took the stage. Matthew Williams’ former bandmate from an outfit called “Blueground Undergrass”, the Rev. Jeff Mosier, joined the duo on stage to lend his characteristic banjo stylings to their polished string sound.
Following their set, Matthew Williams and Mosier each spoke to the Times-Recorder. Asked about his impressions of the festival, Williams said, ““You know what? I wish I could say I was surprised because I had such a good time … You know how you always kind of underestimate things … but Americus is always like this for me. I always have a blast down here. You guys have some of the best people in this town that are music listeners. They respect the music and they respect what’s going on onstage. They have a good ear for music and they’re open-minded. Y’all will allow us to just be comfortable onstage and play whatever we want to and it’s always well-received. Part of me is surprised because we had such a good time, but the part of me that’s from Americus isn’t surprised at all because I grew up around that and that’s why I keep coming back.”
Mosier told the newspaper that he had previously visited Sumter County in the 1990s to visit Koinonia as he was preparing to perform in the Cotton Patch Gospels at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. He stated that he was interested in learning more about the life of Koinonia founder, Clarence Jordan, so that he could help ensure that his music provided for the performance was as authentic as possible.
“One thing I was thinking in particular, today, was … Nobody’s watching TV,” Mosier said. “In other words, we’re all actually here … This is social. Music is a medicine that we’ve made for ourselves to make us feel better. It’s a tradition and I love that it happened here and the town supported it. I think it’s just a great thing. I think music festivals are really where music shows its best side. I love it in my ears and I love it in my heart, too. There’s nothing like getting out in front of a group of people out in the open and singing tunes and everybody’s singing along. I think that’s something we really need right now … Today, we were all here. It was really nice. I think it was great that the town did this and I’m glad that I was able to be here for it …”
In addition to the music, several of Americus’ most popular restaurants joined in the fun, giving participants the chance to sample some of their finest dishes. Sweet Georgia Baking Company, Pat’s Place, Café Campesino, and Birddog Barbecue were among the restaurants represented at the festival.
Local chef and businessman, Lee Harris, spoke with the Times-Recorder after the event. Harris, the owner of Sweet Georgia Baking Company, said that, in addition to selling their menu items to patrons at the festival, his establishment also provided snacks for festivalgoers in the VIP tent.
“It was a really good day, overall,” Harris said. “We made some good contacts with visitors from out of town who had come to enjoy the festival and see what Americus had to offer. We got some really good feedback … I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Pat Spann, owner of Pat’s Place, also seemed to enjoy the benefits of the large crowds that attended the event. In a brief interview, Spann said, “It was a very good day for us … I know a lot of people from out of town were here for the festival.”
Spann said that while the Pat’s Place booth had failed to sell as many orders of pizza, nachos, and sweet tea as he had anticipated, the restaurant itself, located nearly two miles down the road, had seen a large upswing in patronage during the event. “I wasn’t able to make it to the festival, but we had three representatives there. I stayed at the restaurant because we were very busy that afternoon,” Spann said. “That evening turned out to be one of the best Saturdays we’ve had in a very, very long time. That may be because, since downtown was so crowded, more locals came over to Pat’s Place to eat.”
Spann said that representatives from two of the breweries spotlighted at the festival, Cannon Brewpub and Omaha Brewing Co., had come to the restaurant after the festival to help promote their beverages.
“It was a very good day for us. I hope they do it again,” Spann concluded.
From the city’s viewpoint, the event seems to have been a huge success as well.
With the prospect of drawing interest from beer, music, and glassblowing enthusiasts from all over the state, the Americus Police Department was on the scene for the entire event to ensure that everything went smoothly. The Times-Recorder reached out to Americus Police Chief Mark Scott for comment on the his impressions of the event.
“I think it went very well, particularly for an inaugural event,” Scott stated. “We did not have any issues from anyone attending the event. People were very patient with the ticketing process and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I thought the downtown venue was great for the size of the event. If it is expanded next year, we may need to consider a larger area.”