VALDOSTA – Residents of Valdosta awoke to the Seventh Annual Wake Up Fest last weekend.
The event, which started as little more than a group of friends celebrating a birthday with live music and wakeboarding, has grown to host more than 100 people, several art and food vendors, bands from around the country and extreme sports athletes.
Wake Up Fest is a not-for-profit family-run festival designed for people of all ages to come listen to music, play watersports and more.
Jimi S. Davies, founder and organizer of the festival, designed the Wake Up Fest to be family friendly.
Wake-Up Fest "is geared towards parents bringing their kids out here just like they would take them to the skating rink or just like they would take them to the mall,” Davies said. “Because we’re bringing music for everybody. If you’re 60 years old and you got your grandkids, you can bring them out here and both of you are going to have a good time.”
Davies is one of six siblings of various ages all of whom volunteer and participate in the festival each year.
“It makes sense to me, too, because (Davies') family is so big and everyone is such different ages that (he’s) already thinking in that perspective. It’s just built-in,” said Mia Wade, stagehand and sound engineer for the festival.
Youth participated in the skateboarding and wakeskating competitions as well as played in their own bands. Rainbow Sally and the Suicide Snails is entirely comprised of Davies’ younger brother and sisters. The bassist for another local band, Sonder, is Davies' younger sister as well.
There were two competitions during the festival, a wakeskating competition and a skateboarding competition.
The winner of the skateboarding contest was Shane Carter who has competed around the world. Local youth were among the world-renowned skaters.
“My favorite part of the fest this year was when a mom entered her son. He was actually a really good skater,” Davies said. “He had to be like 11 or so. He got knocked out in the first round but we gave him Grommet of the Year Award. That made his day, man. He was so happy. His mom was so happy. She hugged me and told me thank you so many times before they left and told me they can’t wait to come back next year.”
The first-place winner of the skating competition won a skateboard signed by Jamie Foy, $200 in Ambush Skateboarding gift cards and clothing from STZlife. All eight riders in the contest won a skateboard, grip tape and gift cards to Ambush Skateboarding.
The first-place winner of the wakeskate contest, Bammer Rehn, won a customized Wake-Up Fest wakeskate made by Grain Wakeskates, a $250 giftcard to BuyWake and STZlife swag-like cups, clothes and other merchandise.
Davies is making plans for the 2020 Wake Up Fest to be bigger and better by bringing in more vendors, stage gear and outdoor fans for audiences around the stage.