August 9th, 2017 went down in Georgia College history with the formal gifting of Andalusia to the college from the foundation running the house. It makes this the fourth historic property listed in the National Register of Historic Places that the GCSU Foundation now owns. Others include The Old Governor’s Mansion and Atkinson Hall. The Milledgeville Historic district, which encompasses much of the college, received national register status in 1972. Since the gifting of the property, Andalusia has been closed for restoration. Matt Davis, the director of Historic Museums for Georgia College, and his staff have restored Andalusia to the mid-20th century style home in which Flannery O’Connor lived and wrote. They want visitors to not only get a better understanding of Flannery’s influences and farm life, but also feel like they are a part of that time period as well. The plans include much more than preserving and restoring the buildings. There is also discussion of additions, such as a visitor center and an education building close to the farm’s entrance.
From 3:00 to 8:00 pm on Saturday, the quiet pines, calm lake, and sereneness of Andalusia will be disrupted by some “good country music,” or should I say good bluegrass music. It’s that time of year again: The 12th Annual Bluegrass Festival at Andalusia will be held this Saturday, November 5! A Milledgeville tradition, the Bluegrass Festival will draw bluegrass aficionados, families, students, and everyone in between from Middle Georgia and the Southeast.
The festival has been held on the 500 acre grounds of Andalusia Farm, the home of Flannery O’Connor from 1951 to her death in 1964. Operated by the Andalusia Foundation, the farm has been restored and preserved and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. Take one step on the property, standing among the farm buildings and the line of pines, and you’ll vividly come to understand the backdrop of O’Connor’s short stories.
I got in touch with Craig Amason, the former Director of the Andalusia Foundation to gather a bit more history about the festival. The Bluegrass Festival started twelve years ago from an idea of a member of the Andalusia Foundation board, a local real estate broker named Lynda Banks as a way of increasing local interest in the activities and programs at Andalusia. Each year Mrs. Banks and board member Mary Anne Murray would co-sponser the event by paying for the band and coordinating volunteers who would help with organization, cooking and serving food, and other essential duties. Until 2014, the festival hosted a single band each year, typically a local band who was well known to the community. Two of the most common invitees were Heart Pine and Redline Express. Current Director Elizabeth Wylie expanded the festival in 2014 to include three bands, but still retain the community feel of the festival.
The Andalusia Foundation holds the Bluegrass Festival each year to serve as fundraiser to continue upkeep and restoration of the farm.
This year’s festival will feature the following:
- nature walks
- local music
- local food
- and three bands from across the state
The festival has remained an important part of Milledgeville music history and the local community, and it encourages students, residents, and even out-of-town folks to come for a visit. This year, Special Collections will be archiving the social media presence of the festival. We will be using TAGS to archive tweets from @AndalusiaFarm and tweets with #bluegrassfestival2016.
Amason, Craig. “RE: Andalusia Bluegrass Festival.” Received by Mikaela LaFave, 3 Nov. 2016