Those of us that have been around Decatur for a while tend to have a lot of thoughts on why our little patch of land became the hot commodity that it is today. Often underappreciated in these discussions is the role of Decatur’s fantastic festival scene. These events draw thousands of people into the community throughout the year, and many of them are homegrown, world-class events. So without further ado:
Oakhurst Porchfest – In only its second year, this event has grown into one of the largest porchfests in the country. This year, on October 8, attendees can expect over 170 free performances on the porches around Oakhurst. Outside, getting to know your neighbors, maybe having a few too many beers…perfect.
Decatur Craft Beer Festival – Unlike the Porchfest, this one is a veteran – and for good reason. Taking place the Saturday following Porchfest, it brings over brings over 80 of the top breweries in the country to Decatur Square for an afternoon of beer, music, and food. The sampling glass will seem small when they hand it to you, but it always seems more than sufficient.
AJC Decatur Book Festival – Moving radically in the opposite direction, we have the pride of Decatur’s festival scene. Held every Labor Day weekend, the Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country, bringing approximately 75 thousand visitors to the city over the course of the weekend.
Decatur Arts Festival – Generally held at the end of May, the Decatur Arts Festival has been a mainstay of the #Decatur festival scene for years. Sponsored by the Decatur Arts Alliance, it is highly community-driven, with numerous events that integrate children and expand on the traditional concept of an arts festival.
Decatur BBQ, Blues, and Bluegrass Festival – Another grassroots festival, the BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival began on Howard Street near the Kimball House (back when it was just an old train depot). It’s been going on 16 years now and currently happens each August after the kiddies get back to school. Perfect way to beat the Atlanta August heat.
Amplify Decatur – Decatur Square is a frequent location for concerts, generally free shows in the evenings or at lunch in the gazebo behind the courthouse. Amplify was the first true music festival on the square, opening in 2016 with a unique free/ticketed format. Early afternoon shows were free to the public, then later shows (headlined by the Milk Carton Kids) required a ticket.
Decatur Tiny House Festival – I think this one took a lot of people by surprise, including the organizers. Held on an open field behind the Dekalb County Courthouse, lines to see inside the limited number of actual tiny houses kept guests queued all weekend. Clearly, more people want to know about these housing oddities that reporters love but no one seems to actually own (at least around here).
Decatur Beach Party – This is a midsummer event sponsored by the Decatur Business Association. More than any other, this one is designed to get families downtown, with sand spread across the closed streets of downtown.
Decatur Wine Festival – For whatever reason, this event seems to end up high on the ladies’ list of places to be. All I can say is that this justifies the lack of credit men seem to be given…on several levels.
Oakhurst Arts and Music Festival – Bookending this list with Oakhurst events, this festival is another great day in the neighborhood held each fall.