Thursday, September 1, 2011




 By Doc Lawrence

DECATUR, GA-There’s always music, food, beverages and the usual festival fare, but this magnificent city offers much more. Pedestrian friendly sidewalks with street lamps, courthouse lawns perfect for sitting, park benches, an increasing number and variety of truly wonderful restaurants and one of Georgia’s top wine shops, Doug Bryant’s Sherlock’s.

 Decatur is a city within a city, surrounded by Atlanta's suburbs and adjacent to Emory University. The hometown of New York Times' best-selling author Roy Blount, Jr. and The Indigo Girls, this is a town where reading, the arts and the higher life is promoted and celebrated. The perfect spot for this edition of the Decatur Book Festival, the annual Labor Day holiday event that is cranking up this Friday.

This year at the festival, Theatrical Outfit — Atlanta’s third oldest professional theater company — will present two separate stage offerings: a full-cast performance of selected scenes from Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s world premiere drama The Green Book and a first-ever workshop of Tom Key’s stage adaptation of Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter, with original music composed and performed by musicians/vocalists Kate Campbell and Caroline Herring.

The Green Book was a manual informing African American tourists of safe places to dine and lodge during the tumultuous Jim Crow era—an important book in more ways than one. As part of a special presentation at the Festival, Theatrical Outfit and the Center for Puppetry Arts will share and discuss their two new productions “The Green Book,” and “Ruth and the Green Book,” both written by Calvin Ramsey, who will also be joining in the discussion.

The Atlanta Opera has commissioned a one-hour children’s opera around the famed tales of Brer Rabbit — popularized by Joel Chandler Harris — for its 2011-2012 season, and the Festival will have a special presentation about its development and creation as well as a sneak peek of some of the songs.

Take time to visit the Dekalb History Museum in the Old Courthouse, and walk the paths of the Old Decatur Cemetery. Agnes Scott College is peaceful and will remind you of places of higher learning in Europe. Decatur High School, one of Georgia’s oldest institutions, has a proud history that increases each year.

Decatur is a progressive city that spends energy and resources towards making living better. It has few counterparts in the South and you can ride the MARTA rail smack-dab in the middle of everything.

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