The McDuffie Mirror

Top Stories
Subscribe Today!
Quick Hits
    · Home
· Subscribe
· Contact Us
· Archive
· Subscribe
    · News
· Business
· Opinion
· Schools
    · Sports
    · Community
· Obituaries
· Weddings
· Engagements
· Births
· Anniversaries
· Submit Event

· Search Legal Ads

E-mail this story Printer-friendly version

Emu-Fest lives on, even though Elvis and his companion don 't
Or So It Seems

It seemed like a fair enough question.

A fellow showed me photos from Emu-Fest at The Old Frontier. The kids in the photos seemed to be having fun. The ranch and campground looked like an inviting place for a festival.

But there were no giant birds to be seen in the photos.

So I asked, "Why is it called 'Emu-Fest' if there are no emus?"

The puzzled fellow scratched his head, as did I.

But eventually I picked up the phone and just asked.

Oh, I could have looked on the Web, but what fun is that?

Chris Smith took my call from his Old Milledgeville Road enterprise. Smith was between camps. Last week, his enterprise was host to 22 young people from M-Pact. Throughout the summer, the ranch will be host to more groups.

"There will be more youth groups coming in from out of town, essentially the same thing," Smith said. "They'll have their own chaperones and all we have to do is run the event."

He makes it sound so simple, but it involves fishing, riding, sunshine and taking time to reflect on faith and history.

And toward the end of the busy summer, there will be Emu-Fest.

No, there are no longer any 5-foot birds pecking the sand south of Thomson. But there were two for a while.

"The first one we got was running loose in the city of Thomson and we chased it for four or five weeks. It'd always dodge and evade us and we finally got it hemmed up there in the fence at Georgia Power," Smith said.

"We named him Elvis."

Why, I asked. No particular reason.

How did Elvis come to reside in Thomson? Smith says that's still a mystery.

Now a ranch can be a pleasant place for a camp or a rodeo, but it's a darned lonely place if you're the only emu in your time zone.

"We ended up getting one more, a female, and she stayed there for two years," Smith said. That second emu did not wander into Thomson or Warrenton. "Actually some folks up in north Georgia donated her," Smith said.

The youth summer camp took root. One young camper, Brent Widner, finally put a name on the one-day festival.

Widner urged Smith to adopt the name Emu-Fest.

"He said it'll sound different and it'll draw people's attention," Smith recalled.

And it did.

The free event is still available to middle school and high school students.

This year's session will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. It will feature music and speakers focusing on positive themes. Teens need not register in advance.

"It's not religion- or church-oriented," Smith said. "But it's all about Christianity, about showing the love that Jesus showed."

"It has become a good community effort to reach these teenagers," Smith said.

By the way, August will be even busier at The Old Frontier this year because of the rodeo, which usually is held in June. Smith said the early summer was just too busy, with folks so busy with graduation, Relay for Life and other events.

This year, the rodeo will be Aug. 26 and 27. It is sanctioned by the International Pro Rodeo Association, and will be presented by Cross Creek Rodeo Co.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $14 at the gate. Kids 10 and under will be admitted free. More ticket information will be available soon.

It's a full rodeo with clowns and eight events, everything from roping to bull riding.

It is a fundraiser for the services that Smith and The Old Frontier offer year-round.

That includes cowboy church, at 11 a.m. each Sunday. "It's open to everybody, come as you are," Smith said. "I normally preach with my cowboy hat and bluejeans."

But Emu-Fest itself will be without its signature birds.

Smith said Elvis died, and then the female died. "I think she just grieved herself over him," Smith said.

"We never did come up with a name for her."

So no Elvis, no unnamed companion, and no replacement birds.

"We've been there, done that," Smith said. "We have the T-shirt with the face on it, so we're good to go."

I told you it was a fair question, and now you have the story. Most of you have the story for the second or third time, but I think you'll agree it's worth repeating.

For those who have other questions, the organizer of Emu-Fest and the rodeo and cowboy church is available at (706) 533-2544.

Web posted on Thursday, June 30, 2011

© 2011 The McDuffie Mirror. Contact the .
View our .