Festivals, Intercultural Society and Monticello Deer Experience

The city’s charm, my love of venison and the persuasion of a friend inspired me to attend the 43rd Annual Monticello Deer Festival. If you are not familiar with Monticello, Georgia, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The city’s architectural styles include Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Second Empire, Colonial, Neoclassical, English Tudor and Craftsman. As a result, Monticello boasts several film credits, including My Cousin Vinny, which was filmed at the Jasper County Courthouse, Dave's BBQ on Frobel Street and the Sac-O-Suds, located at Jackson Lake Road and Highway 16. In addition, Monticello is the deer capital of Georgia, thus the annual deer festival.

While assisting Nancy Arnold Wood, president and executive director of the Jasper-Monticello Chamber of Commerce, with a myriad of pre-festival tasks, I thought about the numerous festivals I’ve attended over the years and the joy in which I experienced by watching the attendees, entertainers and vendors. As I reflected, it occurred to me that festivals play a powerful role in turning a multicultural society into an intercultural society.

First of all, festivals reach broad audiences. The number of people attending festivals annually is on the rise, which demonstrates growing interest in the events organized within the frameworks of festivals. For instance, the Monticello Deer Festival hosts a one-mile fun run, a 5k run/walk and a parade.

Festivals give artists the opportunity to combine their own experience with the local one, creating a positive and illuminating example of integration.

The audiences attending festival events are encouraged to actively participate in them, thus promoting a sense of belonging and community.

Festivals boost cultural tourism. As visitors attend festivals in different regions, they come into contact with new and different cultures and learn about traditions and history.

Festivals play a unique role in the context of education by promoting a culture of peace and shaping understanding and respect amongst groups of people.

Outreach and fringe activities provide easy and open access to the cultural activities of festivals for all kind of audiences, attracting all kinds of people, thus enhancing the process of social inclusion.

Festival events take place in convivial atmospheres and in open venues, which can be accessed by all, including disadvantaged people and ethnic or cultural minorities.

My love of people, places, food, art and culture began at a very early age. My guess is that festivals played an integral part in my development.

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.