Originally created 04/18/99

Blythe holds family festival



It was her chance at local stardom and she took it.

Mirror, an Arabian mare, galloped down Blythe's Church Street with the gaze of dozens of parade-goers following her every stride.

One of 41 parade entrants in the Blythe Fever '99 Festival on Saturday, Mirror and her owner, Mac Covington, made it through her first year in the annual parade, with the horse suffering only minor stage fright.

"It's fun. And all the kids love horses," said Mr. Covington, who posed for pictures and swapped horse tales with a few of the estimated 2,000 people who attended the event.

The parade, which began at 11 a.m., was the event's kickoff in which festival-goers partook in food, enjoyed live music and arts and crafts of the 50 exhibits. For night owls, a street festival was scheduled for later Saturday.

"Blythe Fever brings the community together. We do it under a family atmosphere. No alcohol. We want everyone to feel comfortable," Blythe Mayor Tom Cobb said.

For the first time, the city chose two mascots, who appeared in the parade and were presented bags of candy and certificates -- fitting gifts for the two 3-year-old best friends, Lanie Newman and Racheal Dixon.

Both of the new mascots said they were artists in their spare time.

"I like to paint catfish," Lanie said, rushing off to a pony ride.

Larry C. Newman, 28, said he has been attending the festival since he was his daughter's age.

"My favorite part was the General Lee car that drove in the parade and dunking the clown. There hasn't been much change," he said.

New residents of Blythe said they liked the small town because people there work at getting to know each other.

"They want to see a closer community," said Phyllis Jackson, who's lived in the town since June and has attended several meetings and smaller functions held for neighborhood networking.

"I really like that because I have a 16-year-old daughter myself."

Augusta Mayor Bob Young, the parade's grand marshal, said the Blythe festival brought back memories of when he was a child.

"I love small towns, because I am from a small town," he said. "We never want to lose sight of the fact that Blythe is a part of Richmond County."

Clarissa J. Walker can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.