Powers Festival a family tradition since beginning

by Celia Shortt

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Reed Lewis has been part of the Powers Festival since the beginning. Reed and his wife, Robin, are pictured here with one of their dogs, Lucy. In recent years, Reed has started selling his Lonesome Jake BBQ at the festival.

The Powers Festival held in western Coweta County each Labor Day weekend has brought together people, families and communities for the last 42 years. This weekend’s edition will be the 43rd annual festival.

For the Lewis family, it brought them together, and created memories that will last their entire lives.

“It changed our whole life,” said long-time Coweta County resident Al Lewis.

Lewis and his wife, Hazel, lived in south Fulton County when the Powers Festival started. They started coming to the festival because their son Reed was involved with it.

“Tom Powers was my son Reed’s art teacher,” he said. “He had his whole class, including Reed, clean out the area. So we started coming down here because of him.”

“I was in school and worked there for a year, getting it started,” said Reed. “We built like 600 picnic tables and cleared the land by hand. It was really neat.”

Reed was also an artist and served as a resident artist at the Powers Festival the first year. A few years later, when his wife, Robin, was pregnant with their daughter, Katey, he started doing pottery. He had always wanted to try it, so he taught himself how to do it and built a pottery wheel.

“They gave Reed a spot by the bandstand,” said Lewis. “The little rascal sold out the first day.”

Al and Hazel eventually moved to Coweta County near the Powers’ Crossroads festival grounds, now knows as Powers Pavilion, and were involved every year.

“I enjoyed the whole thing, the food, the camaraderie, everything,” said Al. “I lived from year to year doing it, getting my friends and everyone together down there.”

Al began bringing examples from his collection of carriages to the festival and would spend time visiting with people while Reed sold his art. Al and Hazel also did country western dancing, and Hazel worked with the Kiwanis at the festival for three years.

“Dad would take his buggies there and talk to people,” said Reed. “The family would be there hanging around every day. They enjoyed it. It was a family thing.”

The family thing extended even further when Reed and Robin’s kids, Katey and Adam, were born. Both were a part of the festival with their family.

“My most favorite memory every year was going to see the 'Puh' making the syrup," said Katey. “The ‘puh’ was the horse or mule that was attached to the turn wheel that pressed the sorghum cane to extract the juice. The juice was cooked on-site into syrup that was in turn sold to those at the early festivals.

Katey also enjoyed the country feel to what was then called the Powers’ Crossroads Country Fair and Art Festival — and the original art and the talent of the artists.

The Powers Festival has changed in the last decade, but the Lewis family has still been involved every year. Instead of doing pottery, Reed has started cooking and selling his Lonesome Jake BBQ, fried potatoes and ice cream.

Reed serves as youth director at First Baptist Church in Franklin and uses the proceeds to help with summer camp and other activities for the youth group there.

You can still see Al walking around the festival talking with people and being a part of the community, and Katey is still there as well. The Powers Festival will forever be a part of the Lewis family.

“My grandfather and dad helped clear the way for Powers and have participated in some way every year since,” said Katey.

“While the festival has changed over the years, there is still the same feel in the air every Labor Day when you step into the woods and away from reality. It’s exciting to see the new things happening and the new management team doing their best to get Powers back on the map after a few slow years.”

The Powers Festival runs Saturday through Monday.

It is located at the Powers Pavilion on W. Hwy. 34 between Newnan and Franklin.

For more information, visit www.powerspavilion.com .






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