Short Takes

Thumbs Up!

Gallivanting gorillas, frolicking frogs, a grazing unicorn and a 25-foot-tall Earth goddess are just a few of the magical sights you might spy towering over you at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens this summer.
The largest show of its kind ever to be presented in the U.S., Imaginary Worlds: A New Kingdom of Plant Giants features 28 oversized, whimsical living sculptures of mosiaculture—steel forms covered in living plants—by artisans of International Mosaiculture of Montreal. Nine of the sculptures will debut during the Atlanta show and the giant topiary-like sculptures will be on display throughout various areas of the botanical gardens.

The show runs through October 31. To find out more, visit



Have Horses Will Ride

A true trail-riding experience is now less than an hour away thanks to new equestrian-friendly renovations at the Bussey Point Recreation Area, which includes nearly 3,000 acres of campsites, shorelines and woods just to the southeast of Lincolnton, Ga., and along Lake Thurmond.
Sixty-one volunteers from the CSRA Equestrian Club, Back Country Horsemen of Middle and South Georgia and the Boy Scouts of America donated 267 service hours to construct a new access trail, water wells for horses, tethering lines, expanded driveways for horse trailers and more. The area features nearly 20 miles of wooded trails and additional natural surfaced roads perfect for riding.
The $25,000 project is part of the Handshake Partnership Program, which awards U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funds to enhance recreation projects through community partnerships.  



Celebrating the Fourth of July by the Numbers

Average decibel level of fireworks when spectators are 800 feet away, according to the international Symposium on Fireworks.

1860 In the mid-1800s and continuing for about a century, Augusta celebrated July 4 with Fantastics Day, when children would dress in grotesque costumes and take to the streets, singing and playing tricks on their neighbors.


People treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. for fireworks-related injuries.


Augusta typically offers three opportunities to view fireworks on and during days surrounding the Fourth of July: Riverwalk Augusta, Patriot’s Park and Fort Gordon.




by Mark Hodges

Taking the Music to the People

When you speak with Karen Gordon, you immediately get the sense that her focus extends way beyond herself. Instead of centering the conversation on promoting her music, she likes to talk about downtown Augusta and how art and music can improve the quality of life for the community as a whole. It is proof positive that Augusta’s resident jazz musician is doing her part to be someone who gives back to the city she loves.

Gordon grew up in Augusta and was always surrounded by music. She and her now-famous jazz musician brother, Wycliffe Gordon, spent their formative years playing piano and participating in high school band at Butler. As an adult, her love for piano never waned and, in 1999, she helped create a popular local jazz band called quietSTORM. She eventually moved on and created her own group called Garden City Jazz. However, the aptly named Garden City Jazz is more than just a music group; it is more like an ongoing community improvement project. And the improvement comes through music.

Gordon says it is important to “take the music where the people are,” and she backs up this statement by doing just that. Not only does she play and sing a number of gigs and shows around town, but her Garden City Jazz organization is also involved in a host of various musical projects that directly affect the community at large. These include education programs for local high school students, music programs for kids, the long-running Candlelight Jazz series, various music festivals and a monthly run of free concerts in local neighborhood parks. There is always something going on, and it seems like new projects keep popping up as the year progresses. It’s a hectic schedule, but for Karen Gordon, it is highly rewarding and it gives her a way to impact the city she loves.

She says that even though parts of downtown are very active, it breaks her heart to still see blocks of empty buildings on Broad Street and her wish is to see downtown continue to blossom and grow into a thriving center for arts and music. Gordon believes music is the key to bringing new life into downtown and she is committed to doing her part to make that happen.

Throughout the summer months through Labor Day, hear the Garden City Jazz Candlelight Jazz concerts every Sunday at 8 p.m. at the River Stage on Riverwalk.





We asked Don Rhodes: Music lover, historian, author—Don Rhodes has done it all and he loves to tell you about it. His latest book Legendary Locals of Augusta combines all of those interests. So we asked him:

Who are your five favorite Augusta legends?
Ty Cobb

He lived in Augusta for about 28 years where he had different businesses, including a tire store on Broad Street. His wife and four of his five children were born in Augusta. He started playing professional baseball in Augusta and became the first player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

James Brown

He was born in South Carolina but always called Augusta his home. He rose from poverty to become a world-famous entertainer, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and honored at the Kennedy Center. He did so much for poor Augustans through his turkey and Christmas giveaways.

The Rev. C.T. Walker

He founded Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta and the first black YMCA in New York City and became one of the first international evangelists. The Augusta Chronicle front page said 10,000 people, white and black, filed past his casket when he died in 1921. The New York Times reported he was “commonly said to be the greatest Negro preacher of his time.”

Flo Carter

For more than 60 years, she has appeared on local television stations. Gospel music radio stations across the nation played her single “He Said He Would.” Many famous entertainers and average people have come to know and love her. She has performed at hundreds (probably thousands) of black and white churches, music festivals, libraries, the Mall in Washington, D.C., and Central Park in New
York City.

Sharon Jones

She was born in Augusta and worked as a housemaid, wedding singer and Rikers Island prison officer in New York City before becoming an international soul music star in her 40s.  She was told she was too fat, too black and too old, but today she performs with Prince, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Michael Bublé and countless other stars.  She is what determination is all about.




Why Go: Life doesn’t get much more perfect than at Serenbe, an oasis in the Chattahoochee Hills. Designed on principles of sustainability with 80 percent greenspace, the planned community attracts an eclectic group of residents, including artists, writers, farmers and business people. Visitors will find themselves charmed by the simple things: a morning horseback ride, a trail walk past waterfalls, newborn piglets and bunnies at the farm, organic dining, an artists’ market and so much more. 

A Typical Saturday: Saturdays in June and July are a great time to visit Serenbe’s Farmers and Artists Market (open through November 1) in the village green from 9 a.m. to noon. Along with growers, artisans and craftsmen, the market features chef demonstrations and children’s activities. After the market, head to the farm for a Serenbe Farm tour (reservations, please). Visit the fields of more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit, and even get your hands dirty with the “So You Want To Be a Farmer” tour option. You can also stay in the village and browse the community’s eclectic collection of retail shops and galleries. 

What Else: Serenbe has more than 100 miles of paths perfect for hiking, cycling or exploring by horseback—all just a stroll from the town center.

Where To Stay and Eat: Fall into one of the soft beds at the Inn at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, which is part of the Southern Living Hotel Collection. The boutique hotel has a working farm where children can help staff feed the animals and collect eggs, and a full-service spa where adults can enjoy a peaceful retreat. The Inn’s featured restaurant is The Farmhouse, where Chef Marie Nygren offers her famous “Fried Chicken Sundays” and other farm-fresh Southern delicacies (the restaurant has been featured in the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Atlanta Magazine). In town, the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop offers a full country breakfast, along with sandwiches and salads, pastries and cupcakes. The Hil (taking its name no doubt from both its hill setting and executive chef/owner Hilary White) is another dining option offering farm-fresh ingredients as well as gourmet pizzas.

Distance From Augusta: About 172 miles or a two-hour, 40-minute drive.



Camp Out in Your Own Backyard

What would your childhood summer memories be without fireflies, s’mores and sleeping under the stars? Recreate those memories and then some by joining thousands of people across the U.S. during the Great American Backyard Campout event on Saturday, June 28.

Presented by the National Wildlife Federation every year on the fourth Saturday of June, the event is designed to promote the benefits of camping, connect people with nature and the importance of protecting wildlife, and help get kids outdoors.

Your own backyard not quite wild enough? Georgia State Parks have  more than 2,400 campsites offering a variety of experiences—from tent-only areas, RV sites, primitive camping sites and modern sites with all the amenities.

To find out more, visit



On Screen/Off Screen - Ken Whisenhunt

Augusta native and former San Diego Charger offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back home in the South after being hired as head coach by the Tennessee Titans earlier this year. Whisenhunt is best known for his six years coaching the Arizona Cardinals, taking the team to its lone Super Bowl in 2009. But one of the Richmond Academy alum’s fondest memories? Working the leaderboard on the 18th hole as a teen during the Masters Tournament.



Westobou Festival 2014

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Westobou Festival, held this year from October 1 to 5. In keeping with the its previous format of genres—music, dance, film, visual arts and words (literature/poetry/comedy)—the Westobou Festival will deliver five full days of innovative contemporary events. From family-friendly activities like an outdoor viewing of a cult classic film or a picnic on the Parade Grounds at the Old Academy of Richmond County, to exploratory art and exciting musical performances, there will be something on tap that will appeal everyone.

Internationally-known musician Amos Lee will headline Friday night’s music line-up. Lee is a singer-songwriter whose musical style encompasses folk, rock and soul. He has toured as an opening act for Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Adele, Van Morrison and the Avett Brothers among other internationally popular bands.

In addition, the wildly popular Color Run is returning this year as well as the Westobou Ferris Wheel. Also on the agenda are a number of traditional Westobou events festival goers have come to look forward to including the Chamber Music Series and the Porter Fleming Literary Competition Awards Ceremony.

For more information and developing details bookmark the Westobou website

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