Calling the first annual Georgia Throwdown a big success, especially having had only nine months to plan it, organizer Sam Shugart told Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County members on November 5 that even bigger things are expected in the future.
With headliners such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dallas Davidson, and Easton Corbin appearing at the early-October event, “we’re on their radar now” for other big-name acts.
Shugart said he and others will go to Nashville in December and “sit down with the three largest management companies and line up all our acts in one meeting.” Then they will have a full 10 months to plan and promote the 2013 Throwdown, he added.
The success of the first event was vital, Shugart said, because “we had to prove we could put on a family-oriented event with no issues,” and luckily “it went off without a hitch.”
The idea for the first Georgia Throwdown was conceived about a year ago, Shugart said, after the lengthy period of economic downturn and numerous complaints that there is nothing to do in Albany.
“We knew we needed to do something to turn that around,” he said. Add to that the belief that “music speaks to your soul” and the idea for the Throwdown was born.
Shugart said when he first approached the Exchange Club about using the fairgrounds for the festival, they were incredulous.
“I asked them what they would charge to rent out the whole fairgrounds, and they said, ‘We don’t know. We’ve never rented out the whole fairgrounds before.”
Eventually an agreement was reached, and Shugart said additional acreage will be sought next year. Eventually, he said, growth of the festival may necessitate moving it to a different site.
With the site secured, Shugart went to work putting together sponsors and strategic alliances. There had to be some assurances of a good regional market, keeping in mind that a large country music festival takes place every year about 90 miles west of Albany (near Enterprise, Alabama).
“Our marketing strategy is ‘Dynamic Synergy: Why Not?’,” Shugart explained. One thing he learned, he said, is that “the power of the Internet is huge!” He credited community volunteers, including DoCo Kiwanian Erin Whatley, with helping put together graphics and promotional material for a website for the Georgia Throwdown.