First Friday Prepares for The Craft Beer and Glass Blowing Festival

Published 8:07 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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Saxophone music emanated from The Spot, as kids and young adults ate Scoops Ice-cream up and down Jackson Street during First Friday. The cheery sounds of small crowds emanated from Floyd’s Pub and Rosemary and Thyme in The Windsor, and a Welcome AHS Class of 65’ banner hung in the lobby.

Under the Lenny’s Farmer’s Market pavilion, glass blowers were already set up. Kendal Hodges lit a cigarette with a torch as she detailed the setup, describing how the mobile units were a glory hole and furnace hybrid, allowing them to melt and work the glass in a single unit. The glass blowers used long hollow tubes, rolling them to keep the glass symmetrical and blowing into the opposite to expand the molten bubble, pincering off the excess with a tool called a jacks. Ralf Harvey, a professor emeritus at Georgia Southwestern from 1976 to 2002, used the tool as he detailed a molten piece of glass. He told how jacks were so commonly used, old manuals simply referred to them as “the tool.”

Jeremiah Unterman traveled to Americus to represent his company from Corning New York at the invitation of Phil Vinson, coordinator of the Hot Glass Festival. He talked about his upcoming demonstration the following day. “I’m planning on making a frothy beer mug that is amber in color, and has a frothy band at the top, but will still be hollow so you can still fill it with beer, but it will look like it has beer in already even when it’s empty.”

Glass enthusiast Rich Dennard shared what drew him to the festival. “I’m not a glass blower. I love the art of glass. We’ve been attending glass events for years and I’ll just be here all day tomorrow and just watch glass all day. I’m not here for the beer, I’m here to watch glass.”

Dennard talked about the pieces he and his wife were on the lookout for. “She collects pumpkins, I collect fish. I’m hoping to find a fish or two tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the different artists, and some of the different things that they make. I’m not opposed to walking out of here tomorrow with a vase or a couple glasses. One of the artists is known for making bumble bees, would not be opposed to leaving tomorrow with a bumble bee.”

Nearby North Hampton Street had been blocked off. Mayor Lee Kinnamon introduced the band The Palace Jesters. Three electric guitars, a trumpet, two drummers and a vocalist on a keyboard drew a small crowd. People nodded to the beat.

Pat Turner sat listening to the music. “This is my favorite band in the world, and it’s been great.” She told how long she has been following them. “Since they began, I believe.” Turner also told what she loved about the band the most. “I love watching them have such a good time. And they make excellent music, and they do a wide variety of music too, and I taught Patrick in the third grade, so he’s been mine for a long time. They’re great kids, plus they are great musicians.”

Fire dancers Christy and Justin Conley, The Delightflow Duo, performed. Justin wore a black cap and vest, and Christy wore a floral dress. Justin performed complex juggling acts with lit batons, only occasionally dropping one. Christy performed with hula hoops and ate fire.

Justin Conley talked about what got him into fire dancing. “Seeing it done at a party, and I was like, ‘I can do that?’ and then I started learning about it on Youtube and met up with some people that were doing it.”

Christy Conley was initially more hesitant. “I saw fire, but I didn’t want to do fire, I was afraid. I started hula hooping, and then the next year I started doing LED glow flow, and then the girl that I was partnered with at the time was like, ‘We got to do fire!’ I didn’t want to, but she talked me into it. It’s not as scary as it looks.”

After the intermission, the music resumed. The crowd started line dancing, swaying to the music late into the night.