DEMOREST — Demorest Mayor Rick Austin says it’s too early to know the financial outcome of the 2018 Demorest Glorious Fourth of July Celebration.
Asked by AccessWDUN this week for his thoughts on the day, Austin said he was pleased with it and considers it a success.
“We started off the day with a 5k run that was well attended, and moved into the opening ceremonies,” Austin told AccessWDUN. “As we were getting ready for the opening ceremonies, you and I both looked up and the street and were kind of in awe in the number of people that showed up for the parade. It had to be double what it has been in the years past.”
Austin said the number of various vendors set up was up as well.
“I know that we had more than 57 vendor spots that were purchased this year, so we had a tremendous number of vendors, many of them food vendors and arts and crafts,” Austin said. “We had live music in the park that was well attended.”
Austin said that crowd was sustained throughout the day, with people mingling through booths, checking out dining options and enjoying music and activities in Demorest Springs Park.
A special feature this year was a ticketed headline concert on Loudermilk Field on the campus of Piedmont College.
“As we moved into the evening hours we had Zach Seabaugh, Raquel Cole and Josh Turner end up with a big concert on that baseball field, with a huge fireworks display,” Austin said. “There were so many people that visited this community for the first time ever, talking about positive an experience it was, how well it was coordinated, and that just goes to our staff at every departmental level from the city manager to our police chief to our fire chief to our water department and public works. Everyone pulled together, really for weeks in advance, and made this event happen, and I think it showcased our city in a very positive light and it’s one that we’re very proud of.”
That costly addition was part of Habersham County’s bicentennial celebration.
Asked whether the city has an estimated attendance for the headline concert on the college baseball field, Austin said, “Not yet. One of the things that will make it difficult determining the number of people that were actually there is we made it a family-friendly event. Any child under the age of 12 got in free with a paid ticket.”
Austin and Police Chief Robin Krockum guessed somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 people were inside the baseball field complex, possibly more.
“We had a number of folks that decided to watch from the bank up on the top that didn’t actually come into the stadium itself, but got to see the fireworks and the concerts nonetheless,” Austin said.
Austin said regardless of the financial numbers, Austin and other city leaders are pleased with the experience they gave visitors and the exposure the city received.
“The biggest thing is this was an investment by the City of Demorest in our community,” Austin said. “Not only in the city of Demorest, but into Habersham County. Within five minutes after the show was over, I had multiple individuals that came to me that had never been here before, from Greenville, S.C., Greer, S.C., Augusta, Cumming, Winder, Jefferson – a number of places – that talked about what a wonderful event it was, and what a warm, friendly town it was.”
Austin believes visitors to the city will come back to visit in the future, and hopefully support its current and future businesses.
“The downtown development authority was what we ran this concert series through, and I think it’s going to pay dividends in the future,” Austin said. “It’s rare this day and time when governments re-invest back into their community, and that’s what we consider this is an investment into our community, and it’s a way to pay back and say thank you to the folks that we serve.”