SOUTH WALTON — If you‘re looking for an intimate setting with some of the country's best songwriters and performers than look no further than the 30A Songwriter‘s Festival.
The festival, which expects to bring in 3,000 to 3,500 people, has grown since its inception four years ago and its organizers say that with the growth the festival is also getting better each year.
"It started out because there wasn‘t a place here where we could have a large-scale show," said Jennifer Steele, festival producer and executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. "We thought it was going to be a small, fun event.
"We had no idea what a huge success it would be."
The three-day event takes place this weekend in venues ranging from intimate listening rooms to spacious outdoor amphitheaters amid a backdrop of brilliant white sand beaches and turquoise waters along South Walton's Scenic Highway 30A in Northwest Florida.
“It’s a fairly young event, it’s just in its fourth year, but we’ve got some really great performers,” said Jon Ervin with Visit South Walton. “Everybody’s there for the music and its different than most festivals.”
The festival will feature more than 130 acts at 21 venues and 23 stages and will include high profile performances from Lucinda Williams, Shawn Mullins and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
"Music is a universal language," Steele said. "It‘s easy to get behind something like this because music has emotion behind it. There‘s something for everyone."
Russell Carter, 30A Songwriters Festival chair and producer and owner of Russell Carter Artist Management, said the typical day for a festival attendee will likely start with a haze from the night before followed by brunch with live background music or eating a muffin while attending a songwriter session.
Then the attendees will grab their phone and check the 30A Songwriter‘s Festival app to see what shows are playing before hopping on one of five shuttle buses offered for the first time this year.
Around 5 p.m. the attendee will be leaving GulfPlace after one of the larger events and then will make it sit down at any number of dinner locations that have set up stages just for the event.
"Part of the charm and what distinguishes this festival from all the other music festivals is the high quality of acts and the intimacy you get," Carter said. "You can go to a workshop and hear the story behind the song or walk into a 200-seat venue where you can sit in front of any artist playing the acoustic guitar. For that, this is the place to be.
"There‘s nothing else offered like this."