Ramblin' Rhodes: Bluegrass, gospel fans should head to Lewis Family's Home Place

Sheri and Jeff Easter will again put on their Homecoming Mother's Day Weekend Festival. It begins at 7 p.m. May 5-6 and at 6 p.m. May 7 at the Lewis Family Home Place northwest of Lincolnton, Ga.

Lovers of great bluegrass and Southern gospel music will want to be at the eighth annual Jeff & Sheri Easter Homecoming Mother’s Day Weekend Festival.


It begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, and also Friday, May 6, and at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at The Lewis Family Home Place, 1935 Lewis Family Road/Washington Road northwest of Lincolnton, Ga.

Tickets are $20 per day with ages 12 and younger admitted free.

An additional offering will be taken for restoration of The Lewis Family’s historic wooden home built in the early 1900s by family patriarch Roy “Pop” Lewis.

Festival hosts Jeff & Sheri Easter, known to millions of viewers of the Gaither Homecoming syndicated TV shows, will perform all three days with their own family band which includes their son, Madison, and daughters, Morgan and Maura.

Other performers will be: May 5, Brian Free & Assurance and The Little Roy & Lizzy Show; May 6, Gold City and The Lewis Tradition; and May 7, The Nelons and The Primitive Quartet.

Jeff’s father, James Easter of The Easter Brothers, will perform for a Sunday service at 11 a.m. May 8. He wrote such classic songs as The Cathedral Quartet’s Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me and The Lewis Family’s They’re Holding Up The Ladder.

For other details visit jeffandsherieaster.com.


FIRST ELEPHANT IN AMERICA: The recent news that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired its elephants to land in Florida brought to mind that the very first elephant ever seen in America came to Augusta during this month in the late 1700s.

The front page of The Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State on May 11, 1799, featured a drawing of an elephant and a story headlined “The Elephant.”

It noted, “This stupendous animal, the only one in America, is now to be seen at the home of Mr. Walter Leigh, near the ferry, and will remain there till the 12th …

“She was purchased for 10,000 dollars three years ago in New York and has increased in bulk from that time from about 1,500 lbs., and, altho not half grown, measures 17 feet long, 7 ditto high, 13 ditto round
the body, 8 ditto round the head,
36 inches round the feet and weighs about 3,500 lbs.

“In traveling, she will either lead, drive or follow at the rate of 3, 4 (or) 5 miles an hour, frequently remaining 20 paces behind her keepers and is so docile … that she appeared on the stage in Philadelphia … and was exhibited at large in the Circus of Charleston before crowded and admiring houses. …

“The Elephant, having destroyed papers of value, gentlemen are cautioned against going too near her with such.”

The book Circus! From Rome To Ringling by Marian Murray also notes, “The very first elephant to reach these shores, so far as has yet been discovered, was an anonymous female who landed in New York on April 13, 1796. She was brought in by Capt. John Crowenshield and exhibited at various places for 121/2 cents a look.

Still another book, The American Circus: An Illustrated History by John Culhane, similarly backs up the documentation that the elephant that came to Augusta in 1799 was indeed the first elephant on the North American continent.


10th annual Aiken Bluegrass Festival: May 13-14, Aiken County Fairgrounds, 1566 Columbia Highway North, Aiken; with a Friday lineup including Larry Keel Experience, Mountain Express Band, Dough & The Henrys and Blackwater Deep; $20 advance, $25 at the gate, gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday, gates open at 11 a.m. with music from Keller and the Keels, Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass, Vince Herman and more. Saturday admission is $30 advance or $35 at the gate. Weekend admission is $50 advance or $60 at the gate. Visit aikenbluegrassfestival.org.

11th annual Boss Hog State Championship Cook-Off: Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, 5 to 11 p.m. May 13, and 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. May 14, at Boss Hog Cook Off Grounds, Schwank Way off Georgia Highway 56 in Waynesboro, Ga. Admission Friday is $11.43 with the Walker McGuire Band performing at 7 and 9 p.m., a Queen of the Wing Reverse Beauty Pageant and fireworks; Saturday, get in for $6.43 and hear guitar pulls featuring Trey Cowart and Phil Wilson from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with Jason White from noon to 1:30 p.m., and with Todd Cowart of the Hushpuppies Band from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Visit bosshogcookoff.com.

Third annual Augusta Music Fest: 3:30 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, May 28, at Augusta Common, 800 block of Broad Street; family fun free event includes a Kids’ Zone; VIP tickets $50; AugustaMusicFest.com.

Seventh annual Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival: May 27-28, Memorial Day weekend, at Evans (Ga.) Towne Center Park. Friday: gates open 4 p.m. with music until 11 p.m., $35 or $250 VIP pass; Saturday: gates open 10:30 a.m. with music until 11 p.m. Two-day tickets are $60 or $325 VIP. Visit banjobque.com.