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Headliner Dreams So Real closes out the Mainstage during the final day of the 23rd annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

The birthplace of famous bands like REM and the B-52s, Athens has produced a talented line-up of musical acts. For this year’s annual AthFest Music & Arts Festival, local artists, musicians and residents have come together to celebrate Athens rich and distinctive culture.

AthFest and other festivals like Twilight, Hot Corner Food and Music Festival and Sigh in July, are important to promoting Athens’s identity as a city and fostering a sense of community.

Coming to the University of Georgia as an in-state student, I was vaguely aware of Athens culture. I was somewhat familiar with major bands like REM and knew that Athens was a breeding ground for many other music and artistic groups. However, by attending AthFest, I saw first-hand the music and arts that make us different from other college towns.

Making my way through the packed streets of downtown Athens during AthFest, I could not help but be impressed by the sheer scope of it all. It is summertime, and many students and Athenians have left until school starts in the fall. I, myself, am not staying in Athens, but instead living back in my hometown Lawrenceville with my mom. And yet, despite its timing, AthFest manages to attract a large number of bands, artists, businesses and, of course, excited festival-goers both in Athens and the surrounding region.

 

Dillon Nixon, a fifth-year UGA student majoring in percussion, is a first-time AthFest attendee who is greatly enjoying the festival and believes that it helps to build the Athens community.

“It’s like a cool reminder of how many good bands there are in Athens,” Nixon said. “I see a bunch of Athens people here who would otherwise be out of town for the summer.”

The varied performances highlight Athens’s cultural diversity. AthFest alone has artists and bands from rock, country, electronic, folk, hip-hop and more. The various genres provide something for everyone to enjoy, and the close-proximity of acts allows curious onlookers to discover new music and genres with which they may not be familiar.

Participating in the festivals can help you to support the community as well. Buying goods and apparel from bands or vendors help the local creators and businesses that make Athens special. In addition, the proceeds from festivals like AthFest can lead to tangible benefits for the community. For example, AthFest Educates, the nonprofit that organizes AthFest, donates the money it raises to promote youth music and arts education in Athens schools. Thus, by attending AthFest and supporting the local community, you can also help Athenian children develop their own artistic interests.

So, please, if you did not get a chance to attend this year’s AthFest, try to come next year or go to other festivals in Athens. In doing so, you will form closer ties your community and have unforgettable experiences.

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