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Set the Pace


Cyclists can get ready to roll in a casual bike ride to raise serious money for cancer research.

Cure cancer faster.

That’s the mission of Paceline, a movement of communities and organizations that are striving toward that common goal.

Paceline also is an event – a casual, fun bike ride with a 25-mile, a 50-mile or a 100-mile route option for riders to raise money for cancer research at Georgia Cancer Center. PaceDay 2021 is set for Saturday, October 16, and riders will be sent off in waves from two locations.

Cyclists on the 25-mile ride can start between 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. at Harlem High School. Riders on the 50- and 100-mile routes can begin between 7:45 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. at the Summerville campus of Augusta University.

All riders will finish at Columbia County Amphitheater, where entertainment will include food and beverages catered by Fat Man’s and live music from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

“It’s not a race, so people can take their time,” says James Holmes, Paceline vice president and growth officer. “We have a lot of rest stops along the route. We have a lot of police presence and safety measures in place.”

The name, Paceline, comes from a formation in which cyclists travel in a line closely behind each other to conserve energy by riding in the draft of the bikers in front. As a result, the group can travel at a faster rate than any of the riders could go alone.

The Paceline is a perfect analogy for the power of the event’s grassroots effort to battle cancer, embodying the team concept and the idea of finding a cure faster together.

With the three different routes, Paceline is designed to accommodate cyclists of all skill levels. In addition, people do not have to ride a bike to be involved in the event.

An Unchained Paceliner can collect donations without riding. There is no registration fee and no required fundraising minimum for these participants. In addition, Holmes says, more than 300 volunteers are needed for the event.

The registration fee for all general riders, regardless of the route chosen, is $100. For young adult riders ages 14-25, the registration fee is $60.


Three’s a Charm


Augusta Symphony starts its season with a trio of diverse performances this month.

Audiences are invited to Come Together, the theme of Augusta Symphony 2021-22 season, with the return of in-person performances this year.

The first concert, Under the Stars, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 1 at the Miller Theater. The performance will feature Itamar Zorman on violin. Selections will include Golijov’s Sidereus, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Mazzoli’s Sinfonia and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Movie buffs and music lovers can enjoy Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as it plays on the big screen while the symphony performs John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score live. This concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 12 at the Miller.

A family favorite returns to Hardin Performing Arts Center at 4 p.m. Sunday, October 24 with Halloween at the Symphony. Families are encouraged to attend in costume and listen to spooky classical favorites and thematic film music, including John Williams’ Harry Potter score.

For more information, visit augustasymphony.com.

For the Birds


A local avian sanctuary is spreading its wings

Feathered Friends Forever Rescue and Refuge in Harlem, which provides permanent and temporary housing for tropical birds, is expanding to add new attractions to its 14-acre property.

The expansion of the refuge, which acquired 3.86 adjacent acres last year, will cover about 6 acres. New amenities will include a veterinary center, six horseshoe pits, a petting zoo, a 286-foot zipline, six tiny houses and a wildlife campground.

“For years, we had only parrots. Once people had seen the parrots, there was no reason for them to come back,” says Ronald Johnson, chief executive officer.

Work is underway on the horseshoe pits and a new house with a pond for Mr. T, the 100-pound resident tortoise. “It will look like Fort Apache and be called Fort Tortouga,” Johnson says.

The refuge also is developing blueprints for the vet center and applying for grants. In the meantime, a temporary building has been brought in to serve as a veterinary center until the permanent facility is up and running.

Plans for the tiny houses include using them to provide accommodations for volunteers from across the country and veterinary technician trainees.

Keeping a Promise

Of course, the most important residents at Feathered Friends Forever, a state-licensed animal shelter and nonprofit organization, are the birds.

The refuge currently has about 200 birds from 46 states, but it has found permanent homes for more than 1,000 birds through the years.

“We do a lot of small bird adoptions. Now, 95% are big birds,” says Johnson.

The facility has housed parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels and finches. Its big birds include Indian ringnecks, African greys, cockatoos, amazons and macaws.

Johnson has had a love of birds since he was a teenager.

“When I was in high school, I worked in a pet store. I got two birds in the 1960s, and I’ve loved them ever since,” he says. “They all have individual personalities. People don’t give them credit for being as smart as they actually are.”

When he entered the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967, Johnson had to find a new home for his green-wing macaw and Moluccan cockatoo. Although he successfully rehomed the birds, the experience left a lasting impression on him.

“I made a promise that somehow, someday, I would make it up to every bird that needed a home,” he says.

Johnson and his wife, Tammy, founded Feathered Friends Forever in 1997, and the number of birds at the small operation quickly soared from five to 85 rescues.

Services include adoption, relinquish capabilities, temporary boarding, permanent placement and wellness checks for birds. The refuge also cares for all deployed active duty/activated national guard military personnel’s parrots free of charge with proper documentation.

In addition, Feathered Friends Forever recently became affiliated with Parrots for Patriots, a nonprofit organization in Vancouver, Washington. The program connects parrots that need a forever home with veterans who need a friend for life.

The facility also has started to work with military personnel who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Animal companions like parrots can be a source of joy and wellness for people with PTSD.

Around the Refuge

In the sanctuary portion of the refuge, 12 outdoor aviaries let birds “fly and be free birds” and live as they would in the wild – in a flock. Each of newly designed aviaries features automatic feeders, an in-flight pond, a misting system and infrared heaters.

Measuring 18 feet in width, 42 feet in length and 22 feet in height, the new macaw flight contains a full rain system, including thunder, lightning and rain; clay chew walls and individual ponds for bathing and drinking.

“Each particular bird has its own little quirks,” says Johnson. “A parrot is a 3-year-old for the next 50 years. A parrot can change its mind with the bat of an eyelash.”

However, parrots and other birds are highly intelligent, and they can learn to understand and mirror basic language skills. They also display “human-like” behaviors and have specific needs that a human companion can fulfill.

Because birds can be so unpredictable, Johnson says it takes years to understand their behavior.

“You can tell if something is wrong by their body or eye movement,” he says.

Other telltale signs of a problem include feather plucking, changes in attitude or appetite, flaring their tails and screeching or screaming.

The companion birds are not the only living beings at the facility, however. They are joined by other creatures on the endangered or threatened lists.

The 8-foot-by-10-foot, climate- and humidity-controlled honeybee house has the capacity to hold 16 individual hives. Developed by the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, it was created to study the effects of climate on honeybees in a controlled environment. Honeybees are vital for stable, healthy food supplies, and Johnson says this is the only climate-controlled honeybee house in the world.

Feathered Friends Forever also features a butterfly garden and a certified monarch habitat as well as a reptile house that is home to spiders, snakes and lizards.

Nonstop Activity

Other activities at the facility include cornhole, a gold and rock mining area, birthday parties, educational classes, weekday tours for groups by appointment, adoption fairs twice a year and open house fundraising events.

The facility also has a cantina, a newly remodeled welcome center and an educational center called Birds on the Brink.

“It’s a full science lab. We offer it for school tours during the week, and if we have the personnel, it’s open on weekends,” says Johnson.

Birds on the Brink offers an accredited science class as well as an augmented reality and virtual reality classroom, where rainforest animals and minerals come to life, and hologram technology. The educational programs, which support the Georgia Standards of Excellence and offer an immersive, multi-sensory experience, can be tailored to students in grades K through 12.

Feathered Friends Forever, which has an all-volunteer staff, is open 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Johnson says the facility has averaged 60 – 70 visitors a day since recently putting up a new billboard.

For more information, visit featheredfriendsforever.org.

Best in Nation


Columbia County Convention & Visitors Bureau recently was awarded first place from the U.S. Travel Association for the best integrated marketing and messaging campaign in the nation among destination marketing organizations for its Serene18 Paddle Trail campaign. More than 400 nominations were received.

The CVB worked with Kruhu and Cineloco to develop the humorous promotional videos starring Redford and Benny as two scouts that showcase the fun that kayakers and canoers can have on area waterways.

The videos have been viewed nearly a quarter of a million times, reaching more than 4 million people. As a result, hundreds of people have visited Columbia County to paddle the trails.

Halloween Happenings 2021


Local Halloween Fun

September 18-November 6
Plantation Blood
Ranked #3 in the Southeast. Nightmares come to life as guests come face-to-face with fortunetellers and creepy carnies in a 30,000-square-foot house of horror. This haunted attraction is not for the faint of heart, however, and souls brave enough to enter should be ready to scream bloody murder. Concessions, live entertainment, games and prizes are available. plantationblood.com

October 1-31
It’s Spooky to Be Hungry!
Virtual across the CSRA
Virtual food drive through hundreds of businesses, neighborhoods, schools, community groups and churches raises funds for the food pantry. Every dollar donated provides three meals to those in need in our area. Donate online at itsspookytobehungry.org

October 2-November 28
Corn Maze
Steed’s Dairy, Grovetown
Have old-fashioned family fun and explore “The Maize,” a secret world of twists, turns and dead ends. Admission includes pony cart rides, hayride, petting zoo, cow-milking demonstration, pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, giant tube slide, corn kernel pit, rubber duckie race, kiddie play area and kid’s zip line. Open Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sun. 1-7 p.m. $8-$11; children ages 2 and under are free. Free Military Appreciation Weekend is Nov. 13-14 for all active and retired military members with an ID. Concessions are available. steedsdairy.com

October 17
Artrageous! Family Sunday: Trick or Treats
Morris Museum of Art
Come on ghouls and gals! Decorate a free spooky canvas candy bag, play games, listen to scary stories and watch a live monster-make-up demo. Costumes are welcome, but not required. 2-4 p.m. themorris.org

October 21
Gateway Park
Join Columbia County Parks, Recreation and Events at Gateway Park in Grovetown for a fun and safe trick-or-treat experience for children of all ages. 6-9 p.m. Admission is free. columbiacountyga.gov

October 23
Fall Family Fun Day
Shooting Star Acres
Wear costumes, see farm animals, play yard games and learn about life in the country on this farmstead and farm animal rescue in Dearing. Bring questions and take home a fall craft. Family friendly event, but no pets, please. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $5 donation per person. shootingstaracresfarmstead.com

October 23-24
Walk with the Spirits
Magnolia Cemetery
Hear fascinating stories and learn about Augusta’s past and some of its notable citizens. Patrons will be guided through the tour by “spirits” dressed in period costumes who come to life as they tell their stories during a 45-minute guided history tour of the cemetery. Tours begin every 20 minutes from 2-5 p.m. Adults $20, children 5-18 are $10. Not recommended for children under 5. Call (706) 724-0436 for reservations. historicaugusta.org.

October 24
Halloween at the Symphony
Hardin Performing Arts Center
Celebrate Halloween with frightfully fun music by the Augusta Symphony. Dress in costumes and bring the family to enjoy spooky classical favorites and thematic film music, including John Williams’ Harry Potter score. 4-5 p.m. augustasymphony.com

October 26-27
Spookduckular Halloween
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park 
Bring costumed little ones through age 5 for trick-or-treating, a costume contest, stories, crafts and hands-on fun in nature. The event will be held over two days this year for smaller gatherings each day. 10-11:30 a.m. $12 per child. Pre-registration is required, and tickets are limited. (706) 396-1418, phinizycenter.org

October 28
Trick or Treat So Others Can Eat
Evans Towne Center Park
Wear costumes and trick-or-treat at the park. 6-9 p.m. Admission is one canned food item per person. Food will be donated to Columbia County families in need. columbiacountyga.gov

WestoBOO! Bash: Haunted Mansion
Old Medical College
Join Westobou’s inaugural Halloween bash… if you dare. Enjoy a haunted evening of drinks, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and spooky surprises at the Old Medical College. Limited tickets will be available for a spirited meal experience before the party. 8-11 p.m. westobou.org

October 29
Trunk or Treat
Liberty Park
The City of Grovetown presents old-fashioned Halloween fun for families with hayrides, candy, inflatables, farm animals, music with a DJ, vendors and Trunk or Treating. 6-10 p.m. (706) 860-7691

Halloween Bash
Wilson Family Y
Come, if you dare, to the Y on Wheeler Road for an evening of safe and spooky fun. Bring the whole family to explore spooky hallways, create fall crafts, participate in a costume contest, play games, trick-or-treat and more. 5-8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Photo ID required to enter. thefamilyy.org

“Hocus Pocus” Dugout Theater Movie
SRP Park
Watch the family-friendly Halloween movie (PG) in the outfield or lower level seating bowl. Blankets and pillows are encouraged on the field, but chairs will not be permitted. Concessions are available, and kids are invited to dress up to trick-or-treat on the concourse before the movie. Movie begins at 7 p.m. $5; children 3 and under are free. Family 4-Pack is $40 and includes tickets, popcorn and beverages for 4. milb.com/augusta

October 30
Happy Halloween Horse Camp
Foolin’ Around Farm
Kids are invited to dress up and go horseback riding, have fall treats and make crafts that include costumes for the horses, too. Noon-5 p.m. $60 per child. See the riding center’s Facebook age for more details.

October 30-31
Phinizy Family Camping & Halloween
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
Bring a bag of pre-packaged candy to hand out and enjoy camping out under the stars. Activities include campfire with s’mores, Tent-or-Treating, costume contest, pumpkin tent decorating contest, family games and activities, crafts and morning nature hike. Bring your own pumpkin or order one for $15. Grills available; no food provided. 1 p.m. Sat. to noon Sun. $50 per group of up to 6 campers. $10 per additional camper. phinizycenter.org

October 31
Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest
Clarks Hill Park
Bubbling waters. Carving knives. Sinister grinning gourds. There’s something spooky going on under the lake when scuba divers slip below the surface and compete in this annual underwater pumpkin carving contest. Bring your own pumpkin, carving tools and creative ideas. Rentals for divers are half-price, and air fills are free. There also will be free food and drinks afterward while supplies last. Noon. neptunediveandski.com

Out-of-Town Halloween Fun

Through October 31
Scarowinds Halloween Haunt
Hordes of hungry zombies and blood-thirsty vampires eagerly await you. Fear rises when darkness falls and Carowinds transforms from a theme park into a scream park with more than 60 acres of hair-raising thrills and fearsome fun. 7 p.m.-midnight, open weekends only. Tickets start at $39. carowinds.com

Six Flags Fright Fest
Family fun by day, fright by night! During the day, family friendly Halloween activities include costume contests, spooky stories, Harvest Festival and pumpkin painting. When the sun goes down, test your fear factor as the amusement park is transformed into a fright-filled terror park for ghosts and goblins and all things spooky. Select nights. sixflags.com

Through November 7
Netherworld Haunted House
Netherworld celebrates its 25th anniversary and is scaring up some new ways to make you scream with fright. Named “One of the Top 10 Haunts in the nation” by Hauntworld Magazine, the walk-through-dark attraction is filled with terrifying live actors, amazing special effects, monster museum, escape rooms and a new mind-melting adventure in 3D. Open select nights and times. Tickets start at $25. fearworld.com

Through November 30
Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tours
Tours are for both the novice and the aficionado seeking historical narrative and hair-raising paranormal intrigue. Guides take you up-close with first-hand encounters of disembodied spirits, Ouija board sessions gone awry, poltergeists in plethora, shadow people, warnings from the beyond and the insider’s scoop on “Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil.” Two tours available nightly: 7 p.m. (for all ages) and 9:30 p.m. (for ages 16 and older only). $23-$25. Reservations required. 6thsenseworld.com

October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Ghosts and Legends of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation
Take an eerie journey back in time on Friday nights at coastal Georgia’s most haunted rice plantation. You’ll hear tales of ghostly encounters and folklore of the Lowcountry as you stroll beneath centuries-old live oak trees, explore the plantation’s outbuildings and take an illuminating lantern tour of the main house. Pre-registration is required. Wear comfortable shoes and bring insect repellant. 7 p.m. $20. (912) 264-7333, gastateparks.org

October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Where’s Noble Bones? A Bone-Chilling Scavenger Hunt
Noble Jones lost all his Noble bones. Join the fun as Wormsloe State Historic Site holds a family friendly, spooky scavenger hunt among the live oaks, Spanish moss and tabby ruins every Saturday in October. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $2.50-$10. Leashed pets are allowed on trails but not in buildings. (912) 353-3023, gastateparks.org/Wormsloe

October 20-30
Boo at the Zoo Columbia
Riverbanks Zoo
This annual Halloween spooktacular is geared to families with children ages 3-12. Kids in costume can frolic in Frankenstein’s Foam Zone, move and groove at the Eeky Freaky DJ Dance Party, find their way through the Spooky Maze and trick-or-treat throughout the zoo on the Trick-or-Treat Trail sprinkled with candy stations. Advance ticket purchase suggested. 6-9 p.m. $12-$14; children 2 and under are free. riverbanks.org

October 23
Masquerade in the Museum
Don your masks and creative black-tie costumes for a night of magic and mystique at the Jepson Center. Event includes live music, dancing, food, libations and more. 8-10 p.m. $50-$65. Must be 21 or older. telfair.org

October 23-24, 30-31
Boo at the Zoo Atlanta
Zoo Atlanta
The gates of Zoo Boo Town swing open for four nights only, when visitors in friendly costumes can travel the paths, sample treats throughout the zoo and enjoy the different sights and sounds of the zoo. Activities include Halloween-themed carnival games and crafts, a Boo Train, Monster Mash Disco with a D.J. and photo opportunities with strolling characters. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. zooatlanta.org

October 29-30
“Dracula – Ballet with a Bite”
Slip some garlic in your pocket and wear a cross as Columbia City Ballet presents blood, fangs and death in this Halloween cult classic. Based on the novel by Bram Stoker, Count Dracula continues his seductive reign of terror with his Brides of Darkness in Transylvania in this Halloween ballet production that includes otherworldly special effects and a rock/jazz musical score. Koger Center. columbiacityballet.com

Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
Wear costumes and enjoy the Disney holiday classic as Atlanta Symphony performs the musical score live to the film. The PG film features the earnest-but-misguided adventures of Jack Skellington, Halloween Town’s beloved Pumpkin King, as he attempts to take over Christmas by enlisting three mischievous trick-or-treaters – Lock, Shock, and Barrel – to help him kidnap Santa Claus. 7:30 p.m. Atlanta Symphony Hall. atlantasymphony.org

Pumpkin Perfect

Appetizers and Snacks

It’s that time of year again when pumpkins become the centerpiece of many fall dishes and decorations or find themselves carved into scary jack-o’-lanterns.

Here are five tips to help you pick out the best pumpkins in the patch:

1. Look for pumpkins with rich orange color and a dry, attached stem. A green stem means the pumpkin is freshly harvested.

2. Knock on the pumpkin. It should sound hollow when ripe.

3. Choose a firm, heavy pumpkin. It will have more meat and a sweeter flavor than a lighter pumpkin.

4. Reject any pumpkins with blemishes such as white mildew, brown stains or wormholes.

5. When planning to cook pumpkins for pies or other dishes, pick small, heavy pumpkins called pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. They have more pulp than larger varieties.

If you choose to eat your pumpkin and not just carve it, you’re in for a tasty — and healthy — treat. Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A, calcium, potassium, phosphorous and vitamin C.  They also have no cholesterol, are a good source of fiber and contain only traces of fat and sodium.

Roast some seeds, and you’ve just added vitamins B and E to the mix:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Salted water for boiling
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Boil seeds in salted water for 20 minutes to clean and flavor them. Blot dry and spread on a cookie sheet overnight to dry. Toss in a bowl with the melted butter, olive oil and salt. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake 30 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Starting Now — Toad the Wet Sprocket

Listen To This

It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago marks the release of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s mainstream release, Fear, which dropped during a pocket of pop culture when college rock was an impactful headwind among the sea of grunge and boy bands.

Toad never set out to be a chart-topping mega band, remaining steadfastly under the radar since forming in 1986, but its unique and simplistic-yet-complicated baroque arrangements, laden with mysteriously introspective lyrics, craft a clever perspective into life.

These ingredients that have defined them for three decades remain consistent on Starting Now, Toad’s seventh studio release. Title track “Starting Now” is a textbook Toad classic, with awkwardly beautiful tuning, stair-stepped strumming and a story that defines the bittersweet affinity for nostalgia while declaring the future will be different — starting now.

Surrounding the nucleus of this record are songs that are complementary spokes and reflectors that craft a solid record — songs like “Game Day,” an autumn anthem of life’s withering leaves and the newness of optimism just around the corner. Or “Transient Whales,” a dreamy yet deeply personal retrospective. “The Best of Me,” which has a Black Crows “She Talks to Angels” vibe but with Michael McDonald singing backup, is a refreshing wildcard.

As the days get shorter and the sleeves get longer, there is no finer record to envelope the season and embrace every moment — starting now.

– Chris Rucker

Living Right


Outdoor recreation, job growth, affordable housing and quality of life — according to Money magazine, Martinez means all of these things. The magazine has ranked Martinez as one of its 50 Best Places to Live in 2021-22.

Ranked 21st on the list, Martinez is in the top five for economic growth opportunity among the 1,200-plus places the magazine considered for its list this year.

Of the 50 places that made the cut, it’s number six for job growth over the last five years. Martinez also tied for the third-lowest unemployment rate of any city on the list at just 3% in June, far below the 5.9% the country saw as a whole.

In addition, the magazine recognized the community’s abundance of outdoor amenities such as Savannah Rapids Park, hiking and biking trails and Reed Creek Nature Park & Interpretive Center.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Literary Loop

The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow returns with a propulsive novel set in 1950s America. In June 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter.

His mother long gone, his father recently deceased and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his 8-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew.

But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. They had hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction — to New York City.

“Wit, humor, intrigue, sophisticated storytelling, flawless style, compelling characters, splendid atmosphere, exquisite insight into human behavior — it’s all here,” says Goodreads. “Imagine if Oh Brother Where Art Thou had been directed by Martin Scorsese.”

“Towles’ novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling and the unrelenting pull of history — an exhilarating ride through Americana,” says Kirkus.

Setting the Stage


Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Broadway musicals, concerts and Christmas shows are coming to the Columbia County Performing Arts Center.

It’s almost time to raise the curtain on the Columbia County Performing Arts Center’s inaugural season, and the lineup deserves a standing ovation. The Broadway Series alone should captivate new and avid theater-goers with a quartet of critically acclaimed musicals.

“I think the season is a really exciting start for us. The shows are classic. People know these shows. They can relate to them,” says Matt Jameson, the PAC general manager. “It’s a great way to kick off and introduce Broadway in Columbia County.”

To start the season, Anastasia, from the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, begins at 8 p.m. Friday, October 15. Transporting the audience from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, the musical tells the story of a young woman who sets out to discover the mystery of her past.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The Tony-nominated, newly staged revival of Fiddler on the Roof is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. The original production won 10 Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. Audience members will recognize the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life.”

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent will come to the PAC on Monday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m. This cultural touchstone follows a year in the lives of a diverse group of artists and friends struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. In its “Farewell Season of Love,” this is the final chance for first-timers or faithful fans to experience this beloved touring production.

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Featuring “Memory,” one of the most recognized songs in musical theater, Cats will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13. The record-breaking musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber has captivated audiences in more than 30 countries and 15 languages. Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Cats tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of felines gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which one will be reborn.

Season subscriptions, which range from $220 – $335, for the Broadway series went on sale in August, and dates for individual and group tickets will be announced later. Individual tickets range from $50 – $85, and a 10% discount will be applied on a single ticket price for groups of 10 or more.

Other upcoming events at the PAC include Thuderstruck: America’s AC/DC tribute band at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 2; Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at 8 p.m. Friday, November 5 and Disney Princess: The Concert at 7 p.m. Monday, November 15.

Photo credit: Amy Boyle

In addition, Columbia County Ballet will perform The Nutcracker at the facility at 7 p.m. Friday, December 10. Other Christmas shows are in the works as well.

“I hope people will stay tuned and continue to enjoy watching us announce shows,” says Jameson. “We like to keep up the suspense.”

Currently, he says, there are no plans to put restrictions in place because of covid. However, he adds, “Health and safety are at the forefront of our minds. We will continue to monitor the situation. We’ll do what makes the most sense. Right now, it’s all systems go.”

For more information, visit thecenterofcc.com.

Talk to Me by T.C. Boyle

Literary Loop

From bestselling and award-winning author T.C. Boyle comes a lively novel that asks us what it would be like if we really could talk to the animals.

When animal behaviorist Guy Schermerhorn demonstrates on a TV game show that he has taught Sam, his juvenile chimp, to speak in sign language, an undergraduate at Guy’s university is so taken with the performance that she applies to become his assistant.

An intellectual attachment soon morphs into an interspecies love triangle that pushes at the boundaries of consciousness and the question of what we know and how we know it.

What if it were possible to speak to the members of another species — to converse with them, not just give commands or coach them, but to really have an exchange of ideas and a meeting of minds? Did apes have God? Pray? Know about economy, rockets, space? Dream? Make wishes or have hopes for the future? Did they miss the jungle? Did they even know what the jungle was?

These are just some of the questions Boyle asks in his hilarious new novel that often stars the chimp’ s point of view.

Let Freedom Ring


Columbia County and Columbia County Ballet join together for the 9/11 Day of Remembrance.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and while Columbia County once again will hold its 9/11 Day of Remembrance, changes have been made to this year’s ceremony.

The occasion will feature a special performance by the Columbia County Ballet called “Freedom,” which was choreographed by former Columbia County Ballet student Michael Viator. The performance will feature the 45 dancers of the ballet company.

“The take away from this ballet is that we would all remember our nation’s history and the principles America was founded upon. We must never forget or take for granted that freedom is never free,” Viator says.

“In this day and age, it seems so affirming to remember who we are and to remember that we are a free people. One nation, under God, indivisible. That’s who we are,” adds Ron Jones, Columbia County Ballet artistic director.

The event begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Memorial Gardens Amphitheater behind the Evans library and will include presentation of the colors by the Columbia County Fire Rescue Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.

Ballet Merger
The long-standing relationship between Columbia County Ballet and Augusta Ballet just got closer. The organizations announced recently that they have merged.

With the merger, the official school for the performing company will remain Columbia County Ballet. The performing company, which is a non-profit corporation, will be presented under the name Augusta Ballet.

Electro Melodier — Son Volt

Listen To This

Thirty years after the pioneer release of the genre-forming album Trace, Son Volt is back with its 10th studio masterpiece, Electro Melodier. Named for two vintage guitar amplifiers, this album is a meat-and-three buffet of Americana with a side of blues and funk groove and a heap of folk salad.

Frontman Jay Farrar has a unique way of filtering life through the cheesecloth of fiction to provide a fragrant first-person perspective on life, love and the roadmap of human connection. He spares no byway with songs like the ramble-thumping “Reverie” and the lazy waltz of “Levee On Down”.

With simple melodic strums, there’s heart cord to be struck with the autobiographical love story of his 25-year marriage in “Lucky Ones” and the tremolo buzzing ballad “Diamonds and Cigarettes,” which features the haunting and angelic backing vocals of Nashville’s own Laura Cantrell.

As festival season is blooming and live music is in revival, make a point to catch Son Volt as they roll into Thomson on September 25 for the 27th Annual Blind WIllie McTell Music Festival. You will not be disappointed.

– Chris Rucker

House Calls… Online


Telemedicine consultations might be here to stay.

With patients still concerned about visiting a doctor’s office during the pandemic, many physicians are continuing to offer telemedicine services.

Telemedicine is a general term that covers all of the ways you and your doctor can use technology to communicate without being in the same room — phone calls, video chats, emails and text messages.

Tips for Telemedicine

Check insurance plans to find out what’s covered under telemedicine. Patients should find out if their medical insurance covers telemedicine doctor and urgent care visits, plus copays and other fees. Those who do not have insurance or coverage that includes telemedicine might be able to pay a fixed fee to use it.

Try out the technology ahead of time. Because telemedicine comes in many forms, patients should go through a trial run to make sure they understand the system and work out any kinks before hopping on a virtual appointment with their doctor.

Be prepared. Whether patients have a call or a video appointment, they should write down their symptoms, medicines they’ve taken and any questions they have so they don’t forget anything when speaking to the doctor.

Beef up bandwidth. Are there certain places in the house where a Wi-Fi signal is stronger than others? Technical problems, such as frozen screens and a slow connection speed, can make an easy appointment difficult. Patients should make sure they’re in the spot with the strongest signal before connecting with their physician. A phone call can be a good backup plan.

Prepare to punt. Someone who has a telemedicine appointment still could end up in the doctor’s office. While that may be frustrating, it can help patients get quicker results and feel better faster.

Fall Festival Fever


A longtime favorite fine arts event has been revamped, but it will still feel familiar to faithful patrons

The traditional Arts in the Heart Festival is back this year with a new look and a new name. The scaled-back ArtsCity Festival still has its usual place on the calendar during the third weekend of September, however.

More than 100 juried fine artists booths will be spread out on the Augusta Common and the 700, 800 and 900 blocks of Broad Street. Booths will be spaced for social distancing.

Two stages of non-stop entertainment will include the Global Stage on the Augusta Common, featuring cultural music and dance along with popular music into the evening, and a Jazz Stage for jazz, blues and roots performances.

Other entertainment will include a Westobou-sponsored ferris wheel on Broad Street and Artzilla artists live painting in front of the Book Tavern.

A Southern beer garden as well as international food booths featuring cuisine from countries such as Ireland, Greece, Italy, India, China, Laos, Philippines, Jamaica and Latin America will line the Common. Outdoor tables will encourage safe dining, and take-out from downtown restaurants also will be available.

If You Go:
What: ArtsCity Festival

When: September 17 – 19

Where: Downtown Augusta

How Much: $10

More Info: artsintheheartofaugusta.com