Full Up On Festivals
MORGAN COUNTY GETS BUSY WITH MADISONFEST, EQUIFEST, FARM CITY TOUR IN LATE APRIL
Sitting around the house bored out of your gourd and looking for some excuse to see sunlight and revel in the glory that is the agricultural way of life?
Look no further than Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25, better known locally as the days set to play host to the county's annual Farm-City Tour, Madison's annual MadisonFest and the first-ever EquiFest. Called a "weekend-long celebration of the rural lifestyle," all are perfect excuses to get out with fellow Morgan Countians, and visitors to the area, and feed your interest in one of many agrarian subject areas.
A presentation of the Madison-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the Farm-City Tour is like Madison's annual Tour of Homes, but for farms. It's a way for Morgan County residents to see first-hand the role of agriculture - its importance, viability and visibility - in the county.
The stops on this year's Farm-City Tour include Godfrey's Feed, a Madison-based business that supplies the area with feed and seed products, among other agricultural items; Rhythm and Balance Equestrian Center, a local equestrian training and performance facility; Silver Creek Farm, the quintessential family farm that also plays home to a horse rescue organization; Rockin' S Arena, located in Buckhead, a central location for all things rodeo; and Southern Cross Guest Ranch, a cross between a working ranch and luxury resort for equestrians.
Slated for Friday, April 24, buses shuttling Farm-City Tour attendees will leave from Madison's Farm Bureau at 9 a.m. and will return at 2 p.m. There isn't an admission fee and lunch is provided, but the tour's capacity stops at 200. To make reservations, call 706.342.4454.
It could (no, should) be said that there's something for everyone at MadisonFest (a Bicentennial Event this year), especially for arts and crafts lovers, barbecue connoisseurs and home and garden enthusiasts.
Staying true to its origins, the Arts and Crafts Fair, handmade-style component of MadisonFest hasn't changed. In fact, it has grown and will, this year, host about 60 arts and crafts-type vendors.
According to Main Street Director Ann Huff, the Arts and Crafts Fair will include local artists, like Buckhead artist Eugene Swain, jewelry maker Lisa Hamilton and numerous members of the Madison Artists Guild, as well as regional potters and several vendors who also took part in the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center's Hand.Craft.It. exhibition.
For those more interested in meat-eating, the Third Annual Backyard BBQ Challenge will also be a part of MadisonFest this year.
While the current economic climate has prevented some barbecue chefs from being able to compete this year, according to Huff, there are six cooks committed to participate in the challenge this year. The categories include Pork Ribs, Chicken and Sauce, and Huff is considering (emphasis on "considering") adding a Wild Game category.
Blind judging, meaning the judges won't know whose ribs/chicken/sauce is whose, will be applied, and prize money will be awarded. In the Pork Ribs category, first places takes $400; second, $200; and third, $100. In the Chicken category, first place stands to win $200; second, $100; and third, $50. And in the Sauce category, the winner will receive $50.
There is still room for more barbecue chefs in the Backyard Challenge! For more information or to register, call Huff at 706.342.1251
The newest addition to MadisonFest, the Garden Expo, has doubled in size, as far as number of vendors, from last year.
While the theme last year was "Drought Tolerance," this year's theme, "Heirloom and Pass-Along Plants," fits the timing of the city's bicentennial birthday.
Going along with that theme, Morgan County Master Gardeners are asking residents to contribute part of their yard to the bigger, commemorative cause.
"If you have plants in your yard...tell us what it is, the history of it and package it up for us," Huff said. "We'll come by and pick it up."
The plants from Madison yards will then be sold, and therefore passed on, a piece of Madison to grow forever somewhere else.
Additionally, there will be roughly 15 garden-type vendors, selling everything from UV clothing to organic Shea butter to locally grown vegetables to heirloom tomatoes.
Additionally, there will be rain barrel kits available; members of Keep Morgan Beautiful will provide information on recycling; and experts will be available to advise on all things cultivation. The Madison Women's Club will be selling "cool ties" and the Catholic Women's Club will host a used book sale, while the Church of the Advent is set to offer free blood pressure checks.
Got a craving? No worries!
"If you need a fix for good fair food, all that's at MadisonFest," Huff said.
And, if you just plain want to hear some good music, the bluegrass band Ramblin' Mountain will be playing from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., zydeco band The Squirrelheads will play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and rock band The Mike Rogers Band will play from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The highlight of MadisonFest, though, is set to be the Home and Garden schedule of speakers. Lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. and run throughout the day. Speakers include Chris Stewart (Tapestry Nursery), who will speak on Heirloom Tomatoes; George Sanko (Georgia Perimeter College) speaking on Native Ferns; Richard Simpson speaking on Native and Invasive Plants; keynote speaker James Cothran, author of "Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South," speaking on Heirloom Plants; Barbie Colvin (Specialty Ornamentals) speaking on Drought-Tolerant and Deer-Resistant Plants; and Keith Fielder (Putnam County Extension) speaking on Propogation Techniques. Children's author Grady Thrasher will sign books from his "Tim and Sally" series and, a MadisonFest tradition, the city's Greenspace Committee will hand out their EverGreen Awards.
"They [the Madison Greenspace Commission] like to recognize individuals, businesses and organizations that are supporting great greenspace initiatives and projects in town," Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan said.
So, no matter what the interest, "it's a fun, free, family event," Huff said.
For more information on MadisonFest and how you can become a vendor, visit www.madisonga.com and follow the links.
Brand new this year, EquiFest 2009, held in conjunction with MadisonFest, is set to draw a whole new crop of visitors and locals alike to Madison on Saturday, April 25.
Considered to be a "celebration of all things horse-y," EquiFest will feature Parades of Breeds as well as demonstrations of everything from dressage and driving to barrel racing and pole bending.
Featured performers at EquiFest include the Georgia Ladies Aside beginning at 4 p.m., who will demonstrate the art of riding sidesaddle, the Peach State Mounted Shooters beginning at 4:30 p.m., whose demonstration resembles barrel racing with guns, and well-known horseman Ed Dabney beginning at 12:30 p.m., who will bring with him two Nakota mustangs and will demonstrate his "Six Keys to Harmony."
Additionally, local talent is set to include a demonstration by Shirley Singleton, a United States Dressage Federation bronze medalist and resident dressage trainer at Madison's Rhythm and Balance, and Rusty Wright, who will demonstrate "Trick and Fancy Roping."
"Ask the Expert" sessions will also be available to address all sorts of horse-type topics, including equine dentistry, massage, chiropractics and legal issues, among others.
The Kids Korner is set to offer pony rides, stick pony building and racing, decoration of horse shoes and more.
For more information on EquiFest, visit www.madisonga.org.
Admission to MadisonFest and EquiFest is free, and there will be shuttle bus services between the two festivals available every 20 minutes.
With something for most everyone, never-mind finding a reason to come out. Let's just hope it doesn't rain.
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 9, 2009 EDITION