Thomson's Crosstie Walkers perform during Saturday's Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
THOMSON - Bass, bridles, and blues.
All three are components of a Thomson-McDuffie County "brand" that city and county officials are pushing hard. One of them - blues - was front and center Saturday at the 10th annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival.
The event featured several prominent blues and rock artists such as Magic Slim and the Teardrops and Sean Costello, and local favorites the Crosstie Walkers. More than 1,000 people passed through the gates, despite the cloudy skies early on, with rain falling later in the evening.
"This is a heritage event," said one of the organizers, Jack Cheatham. "The fact that Blind Willie McTell is from here, and that country blues is at the base of rock and roll, and for us to carry that on with our acts, it's all rock and roll that's born from this. It helps define what McDuffie County is and what the south is as well."
Though the festival has had funding difficulties in the past, local officials are happy that the festival can call McDuffie its home.
"Some things you invest in not just for dollars but because they're part of your heritage, and that's what this is more than anything else," said Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Director Gerald Baygents.
The tourism bureau is one of the festival's cosponsors, not only because the event is a tremendous exhibition of quality live music, but because it provides visitors a glimpse of McDuffie.
"This is a tourism event because it's bringing in people from out of our area, and that's what tourism is all about," Baygents said.
Vendors sold concessions and festival memorabilia, including the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and several Augusta restaurants and businesses.
"This is great. It's our third time here. It's just a great day for the family," said Bernard Jackson, a visitor from Atlanta.
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