Organizers gearing up for this year's Powers Festival

by Sarah Fay Campbell

Labor Day weekend is just four weeks away. And this year, like every year since 1972, there will be a Powers Festival on Labor Day weekend.

This will be the second Labor Day event since Coweta Festivals, the group of five non-profits that owns the festival grounds and has operated the festival for decades, entered into an agreement with an event management company that hosts not only the fall festival but several events throughout the year.

The property has been rebranded as 'Powers Pavilion' and now has the zoning needed to hold a variety of events year round and the ability to sell alcohol for some events, held on the Coweta County side of the property, which straddles the Coweta/Heard line.

The first year has gone well. 'The sweat equity that is involved has paid off,' said Amy Lane of Powers Pavilion.

They're looking forward to the signature festival, and the second year of the Zombie Village horror attraction.

'We've learned many lessons from our first-time events, on how to improve them,' Lane said. 'We appreciate the feedback that we have been given from the community to improve upon the events.'

The most recent event was the Pig N Swig, a barbecue cookoff and craft beer festival. It was held on two days in July.

In 2014, it will be a one-day event in the spring, Lane said. They're going to concentrate on making it more of a community cookoff event, hopefully with more barbecue samples for people to enjoy.

They're thinking of adding an eating contest to the event. 'We're not sure what yet, like pies or hot dog eating,' Lane said. 'I think corn on the cob would be hilarious.'

The event this year featured a Jeep obstacle course, which was a big hit, and the Jeep dealer sold three vehicles at the event, Lane said.

They're also looking into a home-brew competition.

The spring version of the Powers festival won't be returning. They tried it once, but many believe the Powers Festival is a 'fall thing.'

They're working on a Christmas event. Last year, there were plans for a Winter Wonderland event, but organizers weren't able to get the ice skating rink. The Christmas event 'really depends on what kind of response we have with our fall festival,' Lane said.

Instead of the skating rink, there may be a miniature 'festival of lights' type event. Lane said they're also going to reach out to the elementary schools to see if they'd like to have Christmas chorus concerts at the property.

The other big event this year was the Peach State Memorial Bike Rally. It went well, Lane said, and they want to bring it back. Both the bike rally and the Pig N Swig exceeded their attendance expectations for the first year, according to Lane.

In addition to the large events, Sessions at Sunset, a monthly concert series, has been well-received. It will run through September, and there may be two concerts held in September, Lane said. 'It's going strong,' she said, and they recently upgraded thesound system at the stage.

'We've been marketing that as our own little mini-Chastain in the country,' Lane said.

Powers Pavilion has a large inflatable movie screen and they're thinking about incorporating some type of movie series in addition to the concerts.

Plans for the fall festival are in full swing, and organizers will be taking applications until about five days before the event.

Only handmade items are accepted for the festival. 'We thoroughly go through every application' to make sure the items are made by the exhibitors.

This year, there will be some gourmet packaged food vendors, Lane said, along with lots of entertainment, and more rides for kids. The carnival style-rides for kids were a big hit last year, so they'll have more of them.

Also, 'we've upgraded the food,' said Lane. 'We've been able to try all these vendors now, so we're only inviting back the ones that are awesome.' There will also be farm-fresh produce, a blacksmith, pony rides and a petting zoo, and they're hoping to get the grist mill back in operation. There will also be roving entertainment such as jugglers and stilt-walkers, Lane said.

'The festival has always been a given. It is what you do on Labor Day Weekend when you live here,' Lane said. 'We're excited about embracing the tradition of the fall festival while bringing a fresh approach to a new generation of festival-goers.'

A portion of the proceeds from the events at Powers Pavilion benefits Coweta Festivals, which is made up of the Newnan Coweta Art Association, Newnan Coweta Chamber of Commerce, Coweta 4-H, Jaycees, and the Newnan Pilot Club.

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