Fun, philanthropy mix at festival

Cynthia George, left, stands with artists Steve Hinton and Mitch Mercer, who will be participating in the art project benefiting Strive2Thrive during the Georgia Throwdown scheduled Oct. 12-14 at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

Cynthia George, left, stands with artists Steve Hinton and Mitch Mercer, who will be participating in the art project benefiting Strive2Thrive during the Georgia Throwdown scheduled Oct. 12-14 at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

ALBANY, Ga. -- All the promoters, the accountants, the marketing strategists told Sam Shugart he couldn't tie philanthropy in with a profit-making venture, that the two simply did not mix.

Of course, telling Shugart he can't do something is like waving a red cape in the face of a charging bull.

So Shugart called on old friend Cynthia George, whose passion for nonprofits in Southwest Georgia is matched only by a rare few, and asked her to head up efforts to bring not-for-profit groups and agencies on board for the Southwest Georgia Music and Arts Festival's Georgia Throwdown at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds Oct. 12-14.

The idea: Provide opportunities for local nonprofits to be a part of the fun at the Throwdown while spreading the word about their mission. Those opportunities would come at no cost, and any money raised would stay with the agency.

There was, however, a catch.

"We didn't want people walking around handing out literature," Shugart said. "We wanted them to be part of the fun. So Cynthia and I have been helping the different nonprofits come up with ways to add to the entertainment."

If the 20 or so not-for-profits that have already gotten on board for the festival are any indication, they've certainly gotten into the spirit.

n The Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition is planning a "car bash" that will allow participants to take out their frustrations on supplied vehicles.

n The Young Marines will sponsor a golf ball drop that will earn a lucky participant a tidy sum of cash.

n Strive2Thrive plans to set up coin-operated pool tables to provide recreation for those taking a break from the music and will team with another agency to sponsor paintings of festival scenes by local artists whose works will be signed by musicians and auctioned.

Other nonprofits will sponsor a peanut shack, raffle a playhouse, hold a basketball shoot-out and give away prizes for playing "hotel key bingo."

"Obviously, all not-for-profits are struggling right now," George said. "Fundraising is difficult enough, but now I think people are wanting to see value for their donations. So in lining up agencies to participate in the Georgia Throwdown, I've approached it from the angle of let's be part of the entertainment.

"People are going to be at the (Exchange Club) Fairgrounds for three or four days, and they are going to want to get up from their chairs now and then and do something. We're encouraging the not-for-profits to come up with fun things to do that will allow them to make some money but will also increase awareness about their mission."

Shugart said involving nonprofits in the Throwdown was always part of his plan.

"I planned on giving a large portion of the money from the festival to nonprofits (the Georgia Music Hall of Fame is the primary benefactor) anyway, so why not let them come out and be a part of the fun?" the event's primary coordinator said. "People telling me the two couldn't mix just made me want to do it more.

"Our marketing strategy for this event is 'Dynamic Synergy,' and our motto is 'Why not?' What better way to illustrate both than by doing something that hasn't been done, something that so many people said couldn't be done?"

George said representatives of a number of nonprofits have "assumed" they will be part of the festival, but they have not yet contacted her to secure their spot for the weekend.

"I'd encourage representatives of any not-for-profit that plans to take part in the festival to get in touch with me (229-886-8147)," she said. "We have lots of room for everyone, but it's not unlimited room. There is only 'X' amount of space that we've set aside."

Asked if she's surprised at Shugart's plan to include nonprofits in the Georgia Throwdown, George said she's not.

"If it had been anyone else doing this, maybe I would be," she said. "But Sam has a special place in his heart for organizations and people who do things for the community. We've worked together to support not-for-profits for a long time, and I know this is where Sam's heart is.

"I knew with him in charge, doing this would be a lot of hard work. But I also knew it would be a lot of fun. That's the best combination in the world."


billybob 3 years, 1 month ago

Look, we all get it. Sam Shugart is by all accounts a great guy, wonderful business man and visionary. And lest we forget, Carlton is kind enough to remind us with another article stating as much every 3-and-a-half days. Can we get one article telling us who is performing at this event for Pete's sake? Just one. We know everything about this "Throwdown" with the exception of who is providing the porta-potties and who the performers are. By the way, who is providing the porta-potties? I appreciate and admire the people who want to bring such an event to our region, but I really think they are dropping the ball by waiting so long to announce a line-up. Maybe they're having trouble booking talent. That would be understandable. If so, then say as much. But this drip, drip, drip of irrelevant information while completely avoiding the information that people do want is getting tiresome.


Albanite 3 years, 1 month ago

Shugart is green as frog droppings. It shows and its painful to watch. If you want to book a big act, you have to have a strong relationship with a booker and a deeper pockets than Shugart. Unless a promoter has around a half-million to drop, forget the big acts and the big tours. The timing is all wrong to try and book the better acts. We have three or four people in our area who are skilled, experienced, who have deeper pockets than Shugart, who know how to put together a show like this, and what it takes to make them work. Those wiser, wealthier and more experienced promoters are noticeably absent.


wrsmi 3 years, 1 month ago

Well said Billybob. Glad to see the nonprofits are included and hope to see more, like the humane society and local elementary schools. I wonder what kind of car will be smashed. Bet it wont be the porsche that is parked outside every time i drive by.


terihdfxr1 3 years, 1 month ago

I pray this is a good event for everyone promoters and attendies . My worries are that it turns out like the fair and decent folks will not want to attend or participate. Please hire good security and keep out the lil thugs that parents will drop off unsupervised. They are taking over all of our events and making it so no one wants to attend. Its not a fun family night if your scared and worried about these things. Example: Christmas Parade, 4Th July , Fair. Every year it gets worse and worse.


southernbelle 3 years, 1 month ago

Bromance. Maybe a kind of hero worship of "the cool kid"???


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