Only in Augusta

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I went to a NY ballet this weekend. The dancers were magical. I wore a dress. He wore a jacket. We sat in red velvet seats in an historic theater.
And I was in Augusta.
The Mark Morris Dance Group came from Brooklyn for this year’s Westobou Festival. As part of the Board of Directors for the yearly five-day festival, I’d heard quite a bit about the dancers. They travel extensively around the United States and the world, showing off their incredible talent.
And they were in Augusta.
If ballet’s not your thing, this may not be all that impressive to you. Would you rather listen to a great band? Kim Gordon (yes, the one of Sonic Youth fame) was in Augusta Wednesday night. Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez of Nashville’s Johnnyswim played Thursday at the Old Richmond Academy. Their talent speaks for itself, but Amanda comes by it honestly. As a young girl, she spent her summers as a backup singer for her rather famous mother, Donna Summer. Hardy Morris played a free concert on Friday night at the same venue. He’s a local Augustan, formerly of the band Dead Confederate. FREE CONCERT.
In Augusta.
Saturday morning, over 6,000 people came downtown in tutus and crazy wigs, ready to run “The Happiest 5K on the Planet.” The Color Run isn’t a race. Anyone can walk or run. There’s a party following the race, where color packets burst in a rainbow cloud. The pictures were impressive and rave reviews were plentiful.
Oh yeah, that was on Telfair Street, in Augusta.

Don’t want to participate? I feel ya. Along with thousands of others, I watched the world’s largest Half Ironman from the comfort of the curb. We made signs and high fived the nearly 3,500 athletes as they passed us, not once, but twice, in their race to the finish.
Yep, Augusta.
The weekend before that, thousands of patrons and artists were downtown for the 33rd Annual (and best yet) Arts in the Heart of Augusta. There was food, music, art and beer. Still not impressed?
If you’re really asking, there’s a half marathon, bars, restaurants, dozens of churches and temples… heck, even the mall has gotten better. When I moved here, we didn’t have a Banana Republic or the Apple Store. Costco didn’t have a chance. There were five bars and about 10 restaurants downtown. Have you been there lately? Don’t be scared. It’s not a scary place. Use common sense and you’ll be fine. If you’re still scared, plan for lunch. It’s light out then. Most places downtown have outdoor seating, and the people-watching is pretty darn good. Did you know there’s a guy with a pet skunk? No worries, it’s been demusked. As in, it doesn’t stink.
See, there’s nothing to do in Augusta.
You’re crazy if you don’t go have lunch at the Greek Festival this weekend. For dinner, you can walk over to the Common for the Hispanic Festival. These people know how to have parties. Don’t like food? There are pumpkin patches and corn mazes, too. You can almost always find something to do on the canal, including boat tours and guided walks.
What’s my point? I get asked that a lot. Fortunately for y’all, I really do have one this time.
GET OVER IT. It isn’t THAT bad.
I’m starting to think some of y’all are habitual complainers. Augusta isn’t as terrible as you’d like it to be.
Those ballet dancers? They loved Augusta. They live in Brooklyn, traveling the world each week, and they loved Augusta. They Instagrammed pictures of our pink fountains and tweeted about their hotel. They wished they could stay another night. They adored our theater. To them, the Imperial is a historic gem, and far superior to the large venues to which they’re accustomed. The commended our hospitality, our southern generosity.
I’ll admit it. I was in awe of their appreciation. As much as I like Augusta, I’m as skeptical as the next. Will we actually get a Whole Foods? Are things getting better? The fact is, they are. It’s a slow process. We need everyone. If we want better things, we have to show support for the things we already have.
I promise you, if we do, even better things will come along. For Augusta.
There’s the obvious big green golf tournament, but that goes without saying. Its benefits are numerous, but there’s so much more to our fair city. You don’t even have to be all that creative. Here in this very paper, there’s a calendar with choices for everyone. Don’t see something you like? Make your own fun.
We have a lake, a river, disc golf courses, parks, a swamp, a canal and so much more. It’s Augusta, y’all. Cheers!

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