Powers Festival packs 'em in Saturday
By ALEX MCRAE
Big smiles and sunny skies were in abundance Saturday as the 42nd annual Powers Festival opened to visitors from across the region. The festival runs through Monday and the grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New vendors and additional musical acts were expected to bring renewed excitement to this year’s event, according to Mark Turnham of Xcessive Sound, which is acting as the management company operating the festival this year for Coweta Festivals Inc.
Even a pair of 70-something newlyweds from Phenix City, Ala., was on hand to join the fun. It was the first visit to Powers for John Hall, but his wife, Virginia — who was raised in Phenix City, but whose grandmother and great-grandmother were from Senoia — said she has only missed a few festivals in “the past 40 years.”
“I try to get here if I can,” Virginia said. “I’ve seen some of these sample people and vendors here ever since I’ve been coming. It’s just a wonderful event.”
John was impressed by the food selection. “If I could, I’d like to sample a little of everything that’s here,” he said. “I know I can’t, but I’d like to give it a try.”
The venue is expected to host more than 12,000 attendees over the three-day weekend. Powers Festival has been selected several times by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of “The Top Twenty Events” for September and includes something for everyone — arts, crafts, demonstrations by artisans, festival food, entertainment and children’s activities.
Part of the profits from the event will be donated to organizations that provided volunteers to help organize and manage the festival.
One of the festival’s regular exhibitors is the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. Volunteers were out Saturday greeting visitors and selling books and other items to benefit the society as it continues to upgrade the group’s new home at the historic Railroad Depot in downtown Newnan between West Washington and East Broad Streets.
Tom Redwine, who has volunteered at Powers for 10 years said the event was a great way to raise awareness of the historical society and tell visitors about local history.
“It’s always fun talking to people and we know many of them come back and visit later,” he said.
NCHS member Mike Barber, another long-time volunteer, said he was hopeful the reorganized festival would bring new energy and enthusiasm to the event.
“It’s always been great and I think it’s going to be even better,” he said. “This is a boost for the whole county.”
Sarah Lamance, also on hand with the NCHS, said she hadn’t been to Powers in many years but was glad to see it was alive and well and going strong.
“This has always been a good event and I know it’s going to get even better,” she said.
Saturday’s activities started early with the “Sunrise on the Square” 5K road race, which also included a fun run for younger competitors.
Runners weren’t drenched by rain, as they have been several times in the past, but were still soaked when they crossed the finish line thanks to extra high-race day humidity that left runners dripping from head-to-toe.
Race organizers said over 300 participants in all age groups were registered for the event. As usual, the race route near the finish line on Court Square was packed with spectators cheering on a favorite. Among them was Pam Burris and her daughter Anna Claire, who were on hand to cheer members of Moms Run This Town, a running support group founded by Burrus and some fellow runners just over a year ago.
“We love events like this,” Burrus said. “It’s great competition, but we also run to get a sense of fun and accomplishment. Things like this are perfect.”
Orlando Burgos of Hart County, Ga. took first place in the 5K men’s division with a time of 18:11. Second place finisher Josh Mattingly just moved to Peachtree City from Colorado and said he was not prepared for the humidity.
“This was rough,” he said. “I’m soaked. But I enjoyed it.”
So did Newnan native Barbara Yancey Chandler, who won the women’s 5K with a time of 21:53.
Chandler also does triathlons, but admitted that even a 5K in such heat was a challenge.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “But this was a workout.”