If the sight of Deborah Martin holding a long, blue, hand-painted instrument didn’t grab their attention, the sound of it sure did.
When she stopped playing her cactus didgeridoos long enough to answer a question about the instrument, a new passer-by asked to hear it.
Many people responded to the sound with expressions of bewilderment. A few tried playing it.
“Watch my lips,” Martin said to a man who had picked up a smaller, bamboo didgeridoo. She showed them a technique she called a “flutter,” which made her lips flap.
“Like a motorboat,” she instructed. The man tried it exactly like she told him and for a split second, he played like a pro.
A few people said they recognized the deep, throaty sound of the didgeridoo from the 2002 Olympics in Sydney. Martin said she and her husband, Preston Scott, noticed their sales picked up after those Games.
Martin said scientists discovered last year that playing the didgeridoo could treat sleep apnea, so there’s been a big resurgence in interest, she said.
The Carrollton, Ga., couple have set up at Arts in the Heart for four years and enjoy sharing their instruments and their music.
Several tents away, Hugh MacKellar and his wife, Mary, explained their handmade pewter brooches to curious customers.
Some are traditional pins and some are magnetic.
The designs, ranging from animals to professional tools, include a loop for hanging glasses or clipping ID badges.
“It’s an obscure jewelry piece you occasionally find in antique jewelry stores or out-of-the-way places,” said Hugh MacKellar, of Cape Coral, Fla. “They’ve been making brooches or things of that nature with a loop in it to hang glasses on for 100 years, probably.”
This is only their second year at Arts in the Heart, but they expect to be back.
“Augusta’s a very inviting little town,” Hugh MacKellar said. “We like it. It’s great.”
On the other side of Broad Street, the Garden City Chorus offered free lemonade to anyone who wanted to try singing with a barbershop quartet.
The group has been appearing at the arts festival for nearly 20 years as a way to recruit new members.
“We get people to sing one part of a quartet, singing the end of a song called the tag,” member Harry Kline said. “They sing that part, and we throw in the other three parts, and if they do a nice job on it, we give them free lemonade.”
They don’t get as many new members this way as they would like, Jim Fernstrom said, but they do get a few.
“They got me a couple of years ago,” John Hellman said.
Edmond Kida earned his free lemonade by singing “Close your eyes in sleep.”
“This was fun,” he said. “I’m a musician around town, so that’s why I said I love harmonies.”
He did not say whether he will consider joining Garden City Chorus.