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Excitement grows around first FlintFest

ALBANY, Ga. — There’s always an air of uncertainty about a first anything. First day of school ... first job ... first date ... first kiss ... first baby ...

The committee that has worked for the past several months to put together the first FlintFest music and international festival, which will start at noon Saturday and continue until midnight, has planned the festival down to the smallest details. Now, it’s out of their hands.

“We’ve had a great team of people working on every aspect of the festival,” organizer Barbara Rivera Holmes said Thursday. “And we’ve got some great people — headed by Phil Cannon and Tommy Gregors — who are fantastic with logistics ready to set everything up.

“Now we just hope that the people will show up.”

More than 5,000 turned out for last year’s International Festival, which was incorporated into FlintFest, so hopes are high that the day by the Flint River will turn into a signature event for downtown Albany.

“I think the people of the community are looking forward to Saturday,” organizer Suzanne Davis said. “I’ve talked with a good number of people, and I’ve gotten a good, positive response. I get the feeling that this could turn into a Mardi Gras-type event for downtown Albany.”

The Mardi Gras festival, which is held on the same Saturday as the city’s annual — and highly successful — marathon and centurion bike races, is one of Albany’s premiere events, drawing thousands to the city. FlintFest, which will feature the already successful International Festival and a day of regional music, could turn into a fall complement to the early-spring Mardi Gras gathering.

“I think that’s what everyone’s looking for: an event that will generate the kind of excitement that there is for Mardi Gras,” Jawahn Ware, another member of the FlintFest planning team, said. “As a member of the Albany Downtown Sertoma Club — which is one of the sponsors of FlintFest — I’m excited about this event, and I’m proud as a representative of the Dougherty County government (county human resources project manager) to be a part of it.

“But I’m also a citizen of this community, and I’m proud to help bring this exciting family-oriented event to the Good Life City.”

Music will start on Stage No. 1 — the “river stage” — at noon and continue throughout the day, while international dance and musical demonstrations will start on Stage No. 2 — the “CVB stage” — at 2:30 p.m.

Among other attractions, there will be activities for kids; food, arts & crafts and other type vendors; educational displays on countries throughout the world in the international village; and even a mechanical bull for the more brave attendees.

Early arrivers will have an opportunity to check out local talent at the Veterans Park Amphitheatre when the ongoing “Albany Stars” competition kicks off at 9 a.m. and continues until noon.

“We’ve promoted FlintFest heavily on all local media, and we expect an awesome crowd,” Holmes said. “Yes, this is a new event from the community, but because members of the team have been working on events like this for a few years and Teresa (Smith) and her team have done such a great job with the International Festival the last few years, I don’t think it’s going to come off like a first-time event.”

Admission for FlintFest is $5, while children 10 and under accompanied by adults will be admitted free.

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