When it comes to making connections, the employees at Walton Gas know a thing or two. After all, we connect hundreds of customers to dependable natural gas each month.

But we also understand the power of making connections within the communities we serve. It’s why you’ll see our name listed as a presenting sponsor of the AthFest Music and Arts Festival and the AthHalf Half Marathon & 5K that benefits music and arts education in Athens-Clarke County.

Walton Gas is a sponsor of the 2023 AthFest Music

and Arts Festival in Athens.

“Schools are struggling to find the funds for visual arts and music — programs that connect students with their creative side and hone skills in communication, fine motor skills and emotional intelligence,” said Sara Beddington, Walton Gas marketing specialist.

Picturing it

“Struggling” is a story Cammi Newby, a teacher at Clarke County High School, knows all too well. She teaches the school’s photography classes, a program in its second year.

The classes teach students the fundamentals of digital photography, a form of visual art. Newby has about 80 students enrolled in the program each semester.

“To learn photography you need to have access to a camera,” Newby said. That basic point was initially a problem for the fledgling program. There were few cameras to go around last year. Cameras had to be shared by three and four students per class, which made it difficult to complete study assignments during class periods, the teacher explained.

Following last fall’s AthHalf, an event that raises funds for AthFest Educates, Newby and her students learned they were receiving a $4,665 grant to purchase nine additional digital cameras and accessories for the class. The added equipment means more hands-on learning per student.

“Without the grant, we couldn’t make the program work.”

“Without the grant, we couldn‘t make the program work,” Newby said. “Now we can build on our program.”

The teacher plans to offer advanced classes in the next academic year to help students further their photography skills. “Photography could be another career path some students might pursue,” she said about the program’s potential influence on students.

Funding arts education

Visual art, like photography, is just one of the educational paths benefitting from AthFest Educates donations. Last year, grants totaling $46,899 were awarded to support music and arts education for K-12 students in Athens and Clarke County. Since its beginning, the nonprofit has given $578,000 in grants to support high-quality music and arts education.

Proceeds from two fundraisers, the AthFest Music & Arts Festival in June and the AthHalf Half Marathon & 5K in October, fund the organization’s annual grant-making efforts.

Walton Gas is a presenting sponsor of both events. Employees also participate in the October events as runners and volunteers.

“We love supporting both AthFest and the AthHalf because the proceeds connect more kids with the arts, and because it keeps Walton Gas connected to the communities we serve, live in and work in,” said Beddington.

Festival fun in June

The AthFest Music & Arts Festival, a free, three-day outdoor festival. It celebrates Athens’ vibrant creative culture, featuring local and regional musicians and visual artists. The 2023 edition of the event is set for June 23–25.

AthFest Music & Arts Festival is June 23–25

in downtown Athens.

You can join thousands of people who will flock to the streets of historic downtown Athens next month to experience live performances on three outdoor stages, an artist market, KidsFest, food and retail vendors and beer gardens. The action centers on Washington Street between Pulaski Street and College Avenue and on Hull Street between Washington Street and Hancock Avenue.

AthFest 2023 will showcase predominantly Athens-based or Athens-affiliated music acts, spotlighting the talent emerging from what is lauded as one of the best indie music scenes in the world. Head to athfest.com for a rundown of musicians scheduled to perform.

Register to run

The 14th annual AthHalf Half Marathon is set for Oct. 22. The course runs through downtown Athens and the University of Georgia. The day before, the 7th annual 5K takes place. Registration is now open at athhalf.com.