The ‘Powers’ to change

Lewis O. Powell IV Staff Writer

August 28, 2013

For some time, the Powers Festival has lingered on as a mere reflection of its former glory. But, LaGrange resident Zak Knight is working hard to change that.

“We feel you need to see real art,” he says. And he’s working hard as part of a trio — with Amy Lane and Mark Turnham — to see that the 43-year-old festival thrives by returning to its artistic roots.

Located on the western edge of Coweta County, really just a 25 minute jaunt from LaGrange, the event began as a funky arts festival on the grounds of the Powers family plantation. The event’s visionary, Tom Powers, an artist in his own right, wanted to create a fun arts festival over the Labor Day Weekend.

“Five years after he opened it, the festival was the largest on the east coast,” remarks Turnham. He continues by describing the line of cars from the festival grounds to the interstate that would form over the weekend.

After donating much of the family land, Tom Powers left the running of the festival to a consortium of five charities. Over time, though, the event has lost sight of its artistic roots and has become an event for “buy/sell vendors” — vendors who merely buy and sell products rather than artists and craftsmen.

The organizer’s, Coweta Festivals, Inc., had decided to shut the gates for good and not hold last year’s festival, but this trio saw a still smoldering spark of hope in the event. The trio took over and kept the gates open for last year’s festival. For this year, they’re carefully remolding the scope of the vendors and expanding the event’s musical lineup.

It was art that brought Zak and Mark Turnham together. Turnham, a music producer, incidentally met Zak who, he says, “plays every instrument.”

“I went into his studio and recorded a 10-song album,” Knight adds.

When Amy Lane, who was working for “85 South Magazine,” saw the great things that Knight and Turnham were doing, “I decided to join in,” she says. She’s now in charge of marketing and promotion.

Knight brings with him construction knowledge learned from working at the side of his father, local builder Charles Knight, along with business acumen from running his mosquito control company, Buzz Off Mosquito.

Add to that his musical and audio engineering knowledge and he’s been a great addition to the festival team.

Turnham points out that Knight has been invaluable in improving the infrastructure of the festival grounds and its sound systems. Knight has also been busy procuring artisans for this weekend’s event.

The myriad of artists at the new festival will include potters, chain-saw carvers, jewelry makers and five blacksmiths. Noted Alabama guitar-maker, Riley Yielding, will be demonstrating his craft and performing on his own instruments.

Knight has also called on Clay Connor, a friend with whom he played in a band in college, to bring his own band to close the festival on Labor Day. A handful of other bands are also lined up for the event.

Other activities will include rides, a zip-line and a petting zoo for children.

The festival’s grounds are also seeing a host of major and minor events throughout the year now. These include the Peach State Memorial Bike Rally on Memorial Day, the “Pig ‘n Swig” — a craft beer and barbecue event — held in July, a spring arts festival and a zombie village attraction on Halloween.

So far, the events held this year have been very successful. Amy Lane says they’re expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 attendees this year.

Zak Knight states, “people will see the difference.”

The Powers Festival is held in western Coweta County just off Georgia Highway 34. The event is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturday through Monday. General admission is $7 and those six years old and younger are free.

Coupons for a multi-day power pass which allows entrance to the festival for three days for the price of a single day’s admission may be found at P.C. Screenprinting, Town Marketplace, the Chamber of Commerce, Town Fitness and Downtown Package.