Statesboro's Downtown Getdown, a street festival featuring danceable music performed by local bands and vocalists the evening of Aug. 31, raised $4,500 that was contributed to three nonprofit organizations.
Organizers, including Mayor Jonathan McCollar, hope to make the Getdown a twice-yearly event. This first one was held the night before the Georgia Southern University football season opener. That turned out to be the first of two triumphs so far for the Eagles, and McCollar proclaimed the Getdown a success as well.
"The event was exactly what the city needed, when it needed it, because we were able to bring a lot of people downtown and to introduce some parents who came from out of town to our downtown area," he said. "One of the most exciting things was talking to parents whose students are coming to Georgia Southern for the first time and them being able to see how beautiful our downtown is and get a chance to meet the people and see how friendly we are."
Musical acts Jasmyn Smith, Musical Minds, Miranda Winter, Southern Crossroads, TG Live and Black Stone performed on a stage set in the middle of East Main Street, which was closed for the event, near its intersection with North, South and West Main.
"It was great to see people dancing in the streets of the city," McCollar said. "They were just having a great time."
The Eagles' costumed mascot Gus and some Georgia Southern cheerleaders helped make the connection between the street concert and the start of the season.
The organizing committee estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 people turned out over the course of the evening. Some non-food businesses and nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity were represented among the vendors, in addition to food trucks.
Vendor fees and event sponsors provided the money for charitable donations. The organizations that benefited were chosen through voting on Statesboro Downtown Getdown's Facebook page, and ceremonial big checks were presented that
evening on the festival stage. The Georgia Police K9 Foundation received $1,000; Ogeechee Area Hospice, $1,500; and Fixing the Boro, $2,000.
The committee is planning not only to make a fall Downtown Getdown an annual thing, but to hold a similar event each spring, said McCollar and committee member Molly Bickerton.
"Our goal is to have an event like this — we don't know if it's necessarily going to be called the Downtown Getdown each time — but we are hoping to build this event bigger and better because the whole idea is to give back to nonprofits like these," Bickerton said.
The events will also provide a venue for some less well-known charitable organizations to get their message out to the local public, she said.
Ogeechee Area Hospice's work is well known in its home region. The Georgia Police K9 Foundation provides support services for working and retired law enforcement dogs.
Fixing the Boro
But Fixing the Boro handily won the Facebook voting and therefore received the largest donation, Bickerton said.
Founded in March 2017 to provide financial assistance to people who needed help to spay or neuter their pets, Fixing the Boro in January 2018 became a state-licensed animal rescue group.
"We saw we couldn't do one without the other," said Fixing the Boro President Sarah Roehm, who founded the organization with Beth Jenkins and Chris Sterling.
Volunteers in the group provide foster care at home for rescued animals. So far this year, they have transported roughly 600 to 700 animals to other rescue groups, including some that also provide foster care and some that have shelters, Roehm said in an interview last week.
"We are actually in the process, and we're very close to opening a low-cost spay and neuter clinic here in Statesboro," she said. "We have got a physical location, and now we are just in the process of considering the initial funding, finishing the renovations on the building and then opening the doors."
So the $2,000 came at an opportune time.
"This goes toward our desperately needed funding," Roehm said.
The Downtown Getdown involved cooperation from the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau and Georgia Southern Athletics.
The Getdown began as McCollar's vision and he leads the committee, Bickerton said. Other committee members include Bickerton, Shontelle Childress, Alex Conarton, Becky Davis, Daphne Jackson, Meagan Johnson, Allen Muldrew and Sharon Persinger.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.