For some fans, music festivals are as much a part of summer as the beach, fireworks and baseball, with many making trips far away to huge national shows such has Coachella in California or those a little closer like Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee or Shaky Knees Atlanta.
But this year has seen a rise in local musical offerings.
While typically the biggest, and sometimes only, musical performance of the year happened during the Cumming Country Fair & Festival, four one-day music festivals have taken place in Forsyth County and the city of Cumming this year: June’s Cumming Rock of Ages, July’s Cumming Music Fest, August’s Classic Rock Tribute Fest and last weekend’s Forsyth River Rock Fest.
“The community is extremely hungry for quality entertainment and nothing brings us together quite like music,” said Joe White with 37 Main, a rock café in Gainesville that put on the Cumming Music Fest and Classic Rock Tribute Fest.
All of those shows, except the River Rock Fest, took place at the Cumming Fairgrounds after a push by city officials to expand use of the facility.
White said while some conditions at the Fairgrounds made putting on a show “a bit tricky,” crews were able to overcome them and he is excited to see some planned improvements to the facility.
“Growing up here, I’ve learned that the Fairgrounds is a staple in Cumming, and it was truly an honor to be able to bring the 37 Main shows here,” White said. “[Fairgrounds Administrator] Tracy Helms and his entire team at the Fairgrounds are great to work with, and I look forward to many more shows with that awesome crew.”
While the Fairgrounds has played host to numerous shows during the fair, the weekend’s River Rock Fest was the first-ever concert at Forsyth County’s Eagle’s Beak Park on Old Federal Road.
“It’s a new opportunity for the county,” said Ted Richardson, with the South Forsyth Rotary Club, the group which hosted the festival. “The county has never allowed for the parks to be leased out for this type of event and to have alcohol, beer and wine served.”
Earlier this year, Forsyth County Commissioners approved allowing alcohol at three parks – Eagle’s Beak, the Sawnee Mountain Visitor Center and Chattahoochee Pointe Park – which are passive parks, meaning they are more nature-focused and do not have youth sports, playgrounds or amenities like active parks.
Richardson said he was impressed with the facility. The county was able to run water and electricity, and the area was big enough to accommodate a much larger crowd.
“I think the county was watching us pretty closely too to see the success that we would have there,” Richardson said. “I have to say the event was a success. The parking, the vendors, the food trucks, the beverages, the ball game, the music all went just according to plan. We had plenty of room to accommodate two times or even four times as many people just due to the venue that the county has there.”
Richardson said the club decided to do a show after surveying locals and finding they were heading out of town to events like Dawsonville’s Moonshine Festival, the Gold Rush Festival in Dahlonega and the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park.
While it’s one thing to be a success for the promoter and host, those who came to the shows also seemed to have a pretty good time.
“Attendees really enjoyed themselves,” White said. “We received a ton of new social media followers and amazing reviews after the two festivals. People enjoyed having quality music in their backyard this time.”
Richardson said he received comments praising the location, weather, bands and even showing Saturday’s college football game between Georgia and South Carolina.
“I think the festival went very well,” he said. “We had great weather, we had good participation, the bands were really good and Georgia won.”
For those that missed this year’s show, there are plans for more shows next year.
When asked if the Rotary Club was planning to hold another show, Richardson said he thought so and said he could see expansions in dog-training competitions and hot air balloons.
“With a big open field like that, it would be great for hot-air balloons,” he said.
White said 37 Main has a big year planned for 2019. More information will soon be available at 37Main.com.
“We have plans to bring six 37 Main presented concerts/festivals to the Fairgrounds in 2019,” White said.