Letter from the editor: Bragg Jam a symbol of changing times


Kopecky Family Band performs at Bragg Jam Arts and Music Festival, an annual concert crawl that brings many people–Maconites and Mercerians–downtown for a night of music and fun. EMILY FARLOW/CLUSTER STAFF

Bluegrass band Seven Handle Circus plays at The Library Ballroom in Macon as part of the Bragg Jam Arts and Music Festival. EMILY FARLOW/CLUSTER STAFF
Bluegrass band Seven Handle Circus plays at The Library Ballroom in Macon as part of the Bragg Jam Arts and Music Festival. EMILY FARLOW/CLUSTER STAFF

When I tell people that I love Macon, I often get strange looks.

“Well, you’re the only one,” many people say.

Thankfully, that attitude is changing, and people who don’t love Macon or who insist there’s nothing to do there are quickly running out of evidence to back up their claims.

Naysayers would have been hard-pressed to call Macon “boring” last weekend during the Bragg Jam Arts and Music Festival, an annual, all-day event that features activities for children and families during the day, and a concert crawl at night.

This was my second year attending Bragg Jam, and each time I was encouraged by the number of people–and the diversity of those people–coming together to support downtown Macon.

I was also impressed with the band line up. Bragg Jam doesn’t bring Podunk, no-name bands to Macon. This year it brought groups like The Blind Boys of Alabama, a five-time Grammy award-winning gospel group. The Whigs were also part of the line up, as well as rising country star Sam Hunt. Indie favorites like Kopecky Family Band and The Apache Relay all came to Macon.

My personal favorite was the bluegrass group Seven Handle Circus. Bragg Jam was their second show in Macon, the first being Second Sunday earlier this year.

What impressed me the most was seeing Mercer University students at Bragg Jam.

Whether they made the decision to stay in Macon for the entire summer, or if they made the special trip to attend Bragg Jam, it’s heartening to see Mercer students support Macon even in the summer, when they don’t have to.

I hope this signifies changing attitudes among Mercer students. When I was a freshman three years ago, few people I knew went downtown even to eat, much less attend city-wide events. In those three years, my own attitudes about the city have changed, and so have the attitudes of many other Mercerians.

Of course, Bragg Jam is not new to Macon–the festival celebrated its 15th year last weekend. What is new is the atmosphere of the city: I’m no longer the only one who loves Macon. Other Mercerians love Macon; Maconites love Macon; The bands who performed here last weekend loved Macon.

Look at downtown. Every year new businesses and improvements come to the city (this year, Second Street is getting an exciting makeover), and more people go downtown in support of the revitalization.

In a few weeks, Mercerians who aren’t already in Macon will be back for the school year, and a few new Mercerians will join us. If you don’t already love Macon, I encourage you to leave the Mercer bubble and discover the many reasons to love this town.

Instead of telling new students horror stories and warning them not to go downtown (don’t roll your eyes–I heard the stories my freshman year), tell them instead what a great, vibrant city Macon is.

And next summer, when Bragg Jam and the Macon Film Festival partner up for ten days of film and music festivities, visit Macon and discover what all the hoopla is about.