Music, Arts and Food Rejuvenate Summer in Decatur | Music

Cody Blue, 6, and Bob Blue attend a concert on the show stage during the 2017 Decatur Celebration. Organizers hope to bring the crowds back to hear music again at new events.


DECATUR — Festivals, fairs and new ways of having fun are back in the summer.

The pandemic and the end of popular events, such as the Decatur Celebration and the Blues in Central Park, have spurred the creativity of several community members and businesses willing to meet face to face.

Decatur Area Arts Council Executive Director Jerry Johnson is in the business of providing recreation and the arts to the community. “People are just ready to go out and do things again,” he said.

According to Johnson, others have witnessed the success of the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater. “Other bands see this,” he said. “If what Devon offers isn’t for them, then they create something of their own that speaks to their circle of people.”

Punk on the park

Punk on Park 2022 will take place on August 13 in front of The Art Farm, 252 N. Park St., Decatur.

Donnette Becket

“The Punk Mindset”

Punk on Park in August will bring eclectic art vendors, music and activities to the Art Farm, located north of Central Park.

Peggy Baity invited artists, including musicians and chefs. “We turn around in the street,” she said. “Something fun is going on.”

Punk on Park is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 13, in front of the Art Farm, 252 N. Park St., Decatur. The event will allow customers to mingle with the artists. “It’s a perfect way for them to make a connection,” Baity said.

The art farm will be open during the event. However, all Punk on Park merchandise will be new. Live music and food add to the flair of the festival. “It’s the whole punk mindset,” Baity said. “It’s about rebelling against the status quo.”

Food will be served by Gill Street Eatz, with breakfast and lunch menus. Cookies, desserts and coffees will also be served. Activities for children and adults are also part of the fun. “It’s not very often you get to take your kids to a punk show,” Baity said.

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Guitarists John Stevens, left, and Greg Vocks in action in August 2020 during the Bluegrass Music Jam at Rock Springs Nature Center.

Tony Reid

Listen to live music

The Rock Springs Summer Concert Series invited the public to hear local bluegrass bands at free live outdoor shows. The relaxed atmosphere allows fans to bring their own seats and snacks as they spend a Sunday evening listening to the music.

One of the highlights of the summer is the Central Park Music and Arts Series, which will run from noon to 8 p.m. on July 31, August 28 and September 25 in Decatur’s Central Park. The events will offer many activities once associated with past festivals, including children’s activities, food, beer, art vendors and music. Free entry. Live music will be provided by touring bands from across the country, with genres ranging from New Orleans jazz to reggae and rock.

Shani Goss, co-organizer of the event, revives the music and the arts that have been missing for a few years.

“Since Blues in the Park and Celebration, there’s not really a constant event going on downtown,” she said. “It’s a little different with music, food, beer and just a fun type of event.”

Goss was an organizer with Blues in Central Park, but didn’t want to focus on just one genre for her next project. “So we’re going to have more of a world type music,” she said. “We’ll have everything from Dixieland, jazz, reggae and rock.”

As an artist herself, Goss wanted to emphasize art for the event. “It’s just as important as the music,” she says. “We bring these two facets together.”

Goss handpicked the artists. Paintings, candles and works by local artists will be on display. “I tried to be a little picky about it,” she said.

Food options are also important to organizers, and Goss said a variety of homemade options will be available.

Organizers of the Central Park Music and Art Series hope to see the event grow. “Not the size of a celebration, but I’d like to see more streets blocked off and more bands and artists,” Goss said. “We will need the support of the community.


Teri Hammel, executive director of the Decatur-area Convention and Visitors Bureau, has seen the tourism industry slowly begin to rebound. “Our hotels are doing much better and some restaurants are feeling a bit up,” she said. “But more people need to go back to work.”

The visitors office continues to think about other activities and events. Hammel and event organizer Jim Ashby worked on an event called Sunday Funday, featuring a bag contest, bands and beer as well as a car show. “It should be a lot of fun,” Hammel said.

The Transfer House in Central Park has booked several private events, such as baby showers, rehearsal dinners and private gatherings, since its renovation, according to Hammel.

Arts in Central Park returns to Decatur (copy)

Community members gathered outdoors in downtown Decatur’s Central Park as local artists showcased their talents for the annual Arts in Central Park event in September 2021.

Mateusz Janik

Arts in Central Park will return in September, with artists and vendors filling Central Park. As the event grows post-pandemic, more features have been added. Public Painted Pianos were introduced last year and will be back.

The arts council has started to step up its festivities by inviting a mini circus to a recent monthly First Friday gallery walk.

The arts council’s third floor, named The Loft, also has planned activities.

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Decatur continues to bring guests to town, with sporting events like the Ursula Beck Tennis Tournament being popular events for local hotels. Several conventions and meetings that were scheduled during the pandemic have been pushed back to 2023 and 2024, but are returning to the region. The tourism industry is watching these trends closely, Hammel said. “And we market accordingly,” she said.

One of the more recent successes recognized by Hammel was the Macon County Fair. Macon Speedway has also booked more nights in hotels and motels. Additionally, the Visitors Bureau hosts a Spring and Fall Marble Show which continues to grow each year. “Of course Devon are also a good draw,” Hammel said.

Hammel and his staff are working with the community in hopes of bringing different or new events, including a possible monster truck show. “A lot of people asked for that one,” she said.

Still, visitors office workers understand that the pandemic remains a concern and they are doing what they can to stay safe.

“We all want to keep the country open,” Hammel said. “We’re grateful that we can still do what we love to do, which is bring people to town and share all the things we think are great to see and do.”

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

Alice P. Darby