New additions in store for Powers' Festival weekend
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
The annual Powers’ Festival is only weeks away, and this year’s Labor Day weekend event in west Coweta will feature some changes as well as some new additions — including small carnival rides for children.
For several months in late 2011 and 2012, it was unknown whether there would be a festival this year. And because of that uncertainty, some of the exhibitors that have participated in Powers’ for years made other arrangements.
“We’re just single digits away” from last year’s 118 exhibitors, said Holly Hammonds, executive director of new management group Powers Pavilion.
“The response from our past exhibitors was ‘we wish we could come to your show — we just didn’t think you were having it, so we booked somewhere else,’” Hammonds said. Some of the long-time exhibitors are returning, but there will be a number of new exhibitors.
It is still a juried event, with only high-quality arts and crafts allowed.
“Powers’ has established and developed a name for itself over the years, of being high quality art. We’re not going to let that just go away,” she said. Many of those who could not change plans for the Labor Day weekend event are planning to participate in the new spring edition of the Powers’ Festival during the last weekend of April.
Powers Pavilion is the new name of the Powers’ Festival grounds in western Coweta and eastern Heard County.
Coweta Festivals Inc., the group of five local non-profit organizations that owns the festival property and has hosted the Labor Day weekend festival for the past 41 years, obtained a Coweta County special events permit earlier this year. That paved the way for the property to be used for lots more throughout the year than just the Powers’ Festival.
Xcessive Sound of Heard County has been brought on as the management company, and is in charge of putting on the events.
Mark Turnham, president of Xcessive Sound, got involved with Powers’ a few years ago as the sound engineer for bands that performed during the festival.
“We decided to go ahead and brand the entire organization as Powers’ Pavilion,” Turnham said. “It’s not just the festival.” The Labor Day weekend event is “just one of the many events” that will be held there.
Coweta Festivals has “basically brought in a management company to oversee multiple events. It’s still done on the same land with the proceeds still going to them,” Turnham said of the member civic organizations of Coweta Festivals Inc. In fact, if things go as planned, “it is fair to sayâ ¦ they will make more through this agreement than they ever have before,” he said.
“We’re here genuinely to help make money for the charities that own the land as well as ourselves, as well as lots of other charities,” Turnham said. They’re supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and “trying to get the local fire department involved,” he said. “We really want to do a good job for more charities. I think it can be bigger than just the owners of the land,” he said. There are also the many organizations that run food booths at Powers as fundraisers.
“We want to give back to the community,” said Hammonds. “That is who we feel like needs to be pulled back in,” she said.
Though the members of the Coweta Festivals member organizations — the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, the Newnan-Coweta Art Association, the Pilot Club, and Coweta 4-H — won’t be doing the volunteer work of running the festival day to day, plenty of the other organizations that have been involved will still be running their food booths.
In addition to the food booths operated by non-profits, there will be commercial food vendors. “We have several food trucks,” Hammonds said, and there will be barbecue as well. Among new offerings will be Caribbean fare.
Eating your food should be more enjoyable, as well, with some changes Turnham has planned.
Most of the food is arranged around the large stage. Unlike most of the rest of the festival grounds, the area in front of the main stage is not shaded. As a result, the bleachers get hot and are not particularly popular.
Plans are to remove one of the bleacher stands, and instead install large tents with tables and chairs. People will be able to sit down and eat while enjoying the entertainment.
There will also be “misting nozzles” near the stage to help cool off attendees.
There will be 18 bands playing throughout the festival weekend, on three stages.
There will be three different areas for kids. The traditional kids area, at the back of the grounds near the stage, will feature activities for young children. Nearby, there will be small carnival rides for children in the 7- to 12-year age range. And near the front of the festival, there will be the “extreme events” such as a rock climbing wall, Turnham said.
They’ve eliminated pre-sale tickets. There were pre-sales the past few years, but never enough to justify all the work that went into them. Instead, they are offering $5 tickets for students, military personnel and anyone over 55. Children 12 and under will be admitted free — in the past, only children 6 and under were admitted free. Some years, there were lower price children’s tickets for those 7 to 12. Regular adult admission is $7. A multi-day ticket for $10 can be used all three days.
Dealing with such huge changes in how the festival operates hasn’t been easy.
“We were really pulling our hair outâ ¦ wondering how are we going to pull this off?” Turnham said. “There are major players that have left. You haven’t got their help and you need it, but they’re gone,” he said.
But, all in all, things are going well.
“In the worst areas, it is as good as last year,” Turnham said. “In the best areas, we’ve enhanced” the experience.
At least two more events are planned for the grounds this year. Look for Zombie Apocalypse with scary scenes and action activities for attendees every weekend in October and Halloween, Winter Wonderland with sparkling lights during December, and the new Spring Powers Festival the last weekend in April 2013.
Plans are in the works for events and concerts on the old parking field, now to be known as Outdoor 54 because of the 54-acre size of the space. The original festival area is known as Festival Village where events like Powers Festival, the Zombie fun and Winter Wonderland will be held.
For more information on the festival and upcoming events, visit www.powerspavilion.com or call 770-253-2011.