An exotic dancer was a part of the many performances of last year’s FlintFest.
ALBANY — Still mired in the throes of a relentless recession, city officials planned the first FlintFest celebration a year ago and simply hoped for the best.
When 5,000 people came out for the combination music/international festival and turned it into an event on par with Albany’s Mardi Gras celebration, organizers knew their decision to bring the best of several artistic worlds together at a majestic setting along the Flint River was a winner.
“Last year was bigger than we thought it would be by far,” Albany Downtown Manager Aaron Blair said. “In fact, if we maintain the response we got last year, we’ll be very happy. This event was not about trying to make a lot of money. It was about showcasing downtown and growing a thriving dowtown arts community.”
Now, it’s time to see what organizers can do for an encore at FlintFest2, scheduled to start at noon Saturday.
“One of the things we’re trying to do to showcase our downtown is bring diverse cultural events here,” Blair, who will soon celebrate his second anniversary as downtown manager, said. “We want downtown to be a cultural hub. These big festival-type events are nice, but we also like to showcase our symphony, theater, plays as well as art and music.
“FlintFest is really an extension of the Deck of Arts events on Fridays, an extension of our arts community.”
FlintFest2 will showcase as many as 20 local artists at its Arts Village, while live bands and native international performances will start at noon on two stages and continue until around midnight. Also available will be activities for children and as many as 20 food and specialty vendors.
Abi Permenter’s AMP Up the Music will hit the musical stage first at 12:30 p.m., and she will be followed by Tyler Norton at 1:40 p.m., Ben Sutton at 3 p.m., Bret Mosley at 4:20 p.m., Unbreakable Bloodline at 5:40 p.m., The Good Doctor at 7:20 p.m. and headliner The Heritage Band at 9:30 p.m.
“We wanted a diverse mix of music, and while we did add a couple of popular local acts (Permenter and UBL) we reached out to regional acts that might bring people from outside the community,” Blair said. “We teamed with the 340 Creative Group to help us find the kind of musical talent we were looking for.”
Singer/songwriter Permenter said she’s excited to be a part of the festivities.
“I’m honored to play anywhere there are people listening to music,” she said. “It’s so different from playing in places like restaurants where you’re just in the background. This is my favorite kind of place to play.
“I’ll play songs that are more upbeat because I think that’s what people are looking for in this setting.”
The festival will kick off at noon with Zumba on the international stage, followed by International Studies at 12:20 p.m., the LeVee Band at 1:20 p.m., Taiko Drum Dance at 2:40 and 4 p.m., Indian traditional and Bollywood dance at 5:20 p.m., Nepal cultural dance at 7 p.m. and a performance by Skylar Barnes at 9 p.m.
The Flint RiverQuarium’s Wings and Wildlife event and the Dougherty County Medical Association’s RiverFront Run 5K and 1-mile run/walk will be held in conjunction with FlintFest2. The 5K event starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 1-mile events at 8:40.
“We usually have our run the third Saturday in October, but we decided to move it up this year to be a part of FlintFest,” organizer Mary Newcomb with the Medical Society said. “We’re looking forward to being a part of what they’re doing; in fact, one of the gifts in our goodie bags for runners is an entry ticket to the festival.”
Newcomb said 302 runners ran in the RiverFront Run a year ago, and just under 200 had already signed up for this year’s run.
Runners may register online at www.riverfrontrun.com or at active.com. Online entries received by Tuesday will be $25 for the 1-mile events and $30 for the 5K. Add $2 for paper registration. Entry fees are $30 and $35 the day of the race. Information is available at (229) 436-8191.
FlintFest2 entry fee is $5, and kids 10 and under are admitted free with an adult. Blair said additional security will be in place for the festival.
“We’re taking precautions to make sure there are no issues,” he said. “It will be a great time for everyone.”