ALBANY, Ga. -- The team planning the three day Georgia Throwdown music and arts festival at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds here Oct. 12-14 has gone about the business of planning the festival with one thought firmly in mind: Do things the right way, and good things happen.
When deals to land a number of big-name artists being sought to headline the three nights of the festival fell through and the showtime deadline started looming like an unwanted distraction peeking over their shoulders, the first-time festival planners refused to panic. They instead stayed the course, calling on experts from Mobile's Huka Entertainment to pull some strings on their behalf.
And they never lost faith.
That faith was rewarded Friday when primary event planner Sam Shugart received confirmation that powerhouse Southern rock greats Lynyrd Skynyrd, who recently released an album of new material, and modern country greats Big and Rich -- and their sidekick Cowboy Troy -- had reached an agreement to play at the Throwdown.
"We just kept working, not saying or doing anything prematurely that we'd have to backtrack on later, and things kind of fell into place," Shugart said after receiving signed contracts from Skynyrd and Big and Rich. "Getting Huka involved was a huge step for us; it opened some doors we didn't know about. But they told us after looking over our plans and our event packages that we were definitely doing things the right way.
"I give credit to the core team that's been working since December to put this thing together."
Shugart and his team are currently busy scheduling artist lineups for the three days of the festival, but with the addition of Skynyrd and Big and Rich they're now able to trot out an impressive list of performers. Those two acts and most likely Drive-By Truckers will serve as festival headliners, although the lineup features a number of artists that could fill that role.
Two-thirds of country music's Peach Pickers -- Albany's Dallas Davidson and Valdosta's Rhett Akins, minus Ben Hayslip -- rising country star Easton Corbin, Colt Ford, Corey Smith, Col. Bruce Hampton, Uncle Kracker, drivin n cryin, the LACS and others are among the artists in the Throwdown lineup. Dozens more regional and local acts, including MTV heroes Messendger, Unbreakable Bloodline, Another Alien Astronaut, Kristen Kelly and Cole Taylor will also perform.
While working with Albany and Dougherty County officials to secure needed permits and variances for the three days of the festival, Shugart has reached out to city and county leaders in an effort to show his community interest. He is working with Downtown Manager Aaron Blair to help with the second FlintFest Oct. 6, and that effort led Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard to declare Oct. 6-14 Music Week in the city.
"I firmly believe it takes a village to make a community, and we want to show we're committed to this village," Shugart said.
The businessman, who attended the Albany City Commission's work meeting Tuesday, offered to use City Manager James Taylor's proposed 6 p.m. curfew during the three days of the festival to provide a "working model" for Albany Police Chief John Proctor and his department.
"We appreciate that kind of support from business leaders in our community," Taylor said. Proctor added that while the Throwdown will not likely attract the mostly teens whose violent acts spurred Taylor to recommend the curfew plan, Shugart should be commended for his offer.
"It does give us an opportunity to see the plan in action," the APD chief said.
Shugart said the plan makes sense for the Throwdown.
"We're providing a fun, safe place for kids during the day, but we feel that those kids don't really need to be wandering the grounds after dark," he said. "If we see unaccompanied kids during the adult time, we're going to find their parents. We feel the kids should be at home or in the camping area after dark unless they're with their parents."
Shugart also told Taylor the city could have access to the two portable 40-foot by 60-foot stages he's building for the Throwdown.
"We're not looking at this festival as a one-time thing," Shugart said. "The people who are a part of our core team are from Albany; this is our home. We plan to be here for the long run."
Tickets for the Throwdown, which are $45 for single-day passes and $85 for the weekend, are available at www.georgiathrowdown.com.