Denim and Diamonds concert

The Denim and Diamonds concert was held on June 16th at the Columbus Civic Center. The event featured Travis Tritt with special guests Charlie Daniels Band and Marshall Tucker Band. More than 27 years after Travis Tritt launched his music career, the Southern rock influenced artist continues to display strong fan support and stay true and relevant to country music fans across the globe. His 1990 debut Country Club and its succession of hits put him in the vanguard of the genre’s early ’90s boom, dubbing him as one of “The Class of ‘89,” which included country music superstars Garth Brooks, Clint Black and Alan Jackson; all whom dominated the charts in the early ‘90s.

All proceeds of the event will benefit Columbus Hospice and Columbus Hospice of Alabama. Since 1979, Columbus Hospice has provided care to patients whose life expectancy is limited and who can no longer benefit from curative treatment. Columbus Hospice currently services the following counties: Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Meriwether, Muscogee, Schley, Stewart, Talbot, Taylor, and Webster counties in Georgia, and Lee and Russell counties in Alabama.


A Midsummer’s Night Screen, hosted by Emilie Menser and Alia Azhar, was held on June 20th at Emilie’s home. Brian Rawlins, 2016 Best Overall winner of WDFF, and one of the 2017 WDFF Judges, has been visiting Columbus ever since his win at the film fest. He’s fallen in love with our town, and is in plans to have a feature film produced here. Brian and his producer, Nicole Layson, came into town to screen their new short film, Lily White, for Columbus friends and film community supporters at the intimate event.

2018 Boy Scouts Honor Phil Tomlinson for SVM

Retired TSYS Chairman and CEO Phil Tomlinson was honored on Tuesday, June 12, at the 38th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner. The event was held at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. The Distinguished Citizen Award, presented by the Chattahoochee Council, Boy Scouts of America, brings singular recognition to an individual who has rendered outstanding service to the community, state, or nation. Such service is not limited to, but might include, Scouting. By presenting the award, the Chattahoochee Council hopes to call attention to the contributions and good works of such individual. Congratulations to Phil Tomlinson on such an outstanding honor!

Photos by Margie Richardson

Cotillion Ball 2017


THE EVENT: The 2017 Cotillion Club of Columbus Christmas Ball was held on Wednesday, December 27 at the Country Club of Columbus. Festivities began at 8:00 PM with the gathering of family and friends for the 8:30 PM presentation of this year's seventeen Debutantes. John Scarborough Holt served as Master of Ceremonies.
THE OFFICERS: Margaret Couldwell Holt, president; Alexandra Darsey McCluskey and Sara Emily Patton, vice presidents; Katherine Claire Graham, corresponding secretary; Mary Ashby Ward, social secretary; and Mary Ellen Blackmar, treasurer.

Museum Master Gala


THE EVENT: The 28th annual Master Circle Dinner was served at the Columbus Museum on December 4, 2017. Each year, the Master Circle Dinner is held to honor the highest patrons of the Museum.
THE HIGHLIGHTS: This year’s theme was Textiles, and the dinner featured tablescapes from some of Columbus’ most innovative designers. After a welcome and invocation were given by museum director Marianne Richter, guests were entertained with musical selections by the Greater Beallwood Baptist Church Choir. Dinner was served by Jamie Keating Culinary, and the night ended with closing remarks by Marleen de Bode Olivié, President of the Board of Trustees.

Holiday Art Show

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Photos by S. Saxon

THE EVENT: The third annual Holiday Art Show was held on November 30th by Katie Jacobson.

PURPOSE: This event is held every year to bring together local artists from across various disciplines to showcase their artwork.

ARTISTS: The artists showcased at this year’s event were Katie Jacobson, Courtney Johnson of Bent by Courtney, and Lindley Gaston of Browns and Hounds Flower Farm.

2017 Pastoral Institute Turner Gala

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Photos by Margie Richardson

THE EVENT: The 2017 Pastoral Institute’s Sue Marie and Bill Turner Servant Leadership Gala was held on Thursday, October 19 at the Columbus Ironworks and Trade Center. This annual black-tie event serves to recognize a Columbus couple who are dedicated to bettering the community for everyone in a unique way.

THE HONOREES: This year’s honorees were Bettye and Cecil Cheves. The Cheves are a truly outstanding couple who have made innumerous contributions to the community simply because that is what they love to do.

FEATURED ARTIST: The featured entertainment was singer and guitarist Coffey Anderson.

The Tom Black Compassionate Service Award Dinner

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Photos by Lucas Ely

THE EVENT: The Tom Black Compassionate Service Award Dinner was held on October 2nd at the St. Luke Ministry Center.

THE PURPOSE: Valley Interfaith Promise (VIP) is an organization of churches in the Columbus area that have come together to help local homeless families in finding jobs, shelter, and an overall sense of wellbeing. VIP is unique in their mission to keep homeless family units together.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: Following a silent auction was a three-course dinner while a variety of people delivered short speeches. Among the speakers were a VIP alumna, Towanna Duncan; the chairman of VIP, Chris Scoggins; and the recipient of the night’s big award: the Tom Black award was given to Reverend Neil Richardson for his outstanding work in making our city a better place.

Bo Bartlett Center White Walls Gala

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Photos by S. Saxon

THE EVENT: The gala was held Thursday, November 16 at CSU’s Corn Center for the Visual Arts to commemorate the new Bo Bartlett Center, which will open in January 2018.

THE BARTLETT CENTER: Located on the top level of the Corn Center, the Bo Bartlett Center was designed by the celebrated Seattle-based architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. The new riverside porch that serves both the Bartlett Center and the Corn Center was designed by Dan Shipley Architects and Studio Outside, both of Dallas, Texas.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: After welcoming remarks delivered by Shannon Ilges Candler, the executive director of the Bartlett Center David Houston delivered the introduction and comments on the center. Further remarks were made by Philip W. Tomlinson and Bo Bartlett. David Houston was specially recognized before Helen Jordan Hobbs ended the evening with closing remarks.

Way Down Film Festival

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Photos by S. Saxon and Lucas Ely

THE EVENT: The second annual Way Down Film Festival, presented by Synovus, kicked off on Friday, October 13th at the beautiful historic Springer Opera House. The Way Down Film Festival celebrates the most innovative film makers in narrative, animation, documentary, and experimental categories.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: The festival began with a Veranda VIP Party. Over the course of the weekend, six 80-minute curated themed blocks were shown on the Springer’s main stage. An engaging, moderated Q&A followed each screening with distinguished filmmakers from all over the world. Between each screening, communion thrived in the saloon and lobby, where film enthusiasts, vendors, and visiting filmmakers talked shop, shared stories, and connected. The festival’s curtain closed with the Awards Gala Ceremony, with food, drinks, live music, and a DJ at The Loft. Seven talented winners took home a total of nearly $5,000 in cash.

THE PURPOSE: The Festival offers attendees an opportunity to experience stories that otherwise would not be accessible, as well as provides talented filmmakers with a platform to show their creative efforts and delivers networking opportunities to launch projects and obtain jobs. WDFF has already recruited three movies to be filmed here, motivated countless short films to be made locally, and founded a film society that meets every month.

SPECIAL THANKS: Co-founders Stacy Cunningham, Jacy Jenkins, and Cora King send a huge thanks to all sponsors, grantors, partners, and volunteers for their hard work and support. The team effort plans to grow here in Columbus, GA annually. To stay connected, download the free Way Down Film Festival app.

Steeplechase Past Race Directors Luncheon

THE EVENT: The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens Past Race Directors gathered together for their annual luncheon, hosted by Mason Hardaway Lampton. Mason Lampton, Race Chairman, welcomed the current and former directors and took the time to thank each of them, the staff, and volunteers for helping make the past 33 years of Steeplechase one of the most successful fundraising events in the region.

THE RACE: The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, known as the “event of the season” and always falling on the first Saturday in November, brings family and friends together to watch thoroughbred horses race over timber and brush hurdles.

Columbus Botanical Garden Gala

THE EVENT: The 2017 Garden Gala was held on October 3rd at Green Island Country Club. THE

FEATURED SPEAKER: Preston Bailey was the featured speaker. Recently named one of the best wedding designers in the world by Vogue Magazine, Preston Bailey has been globally celebrated for his unique ability to transform ordinary spaces into lush, theatrical environments. This has helped to establish him as the premier event designer for a client roster that includes celebrities, royal families, CEOs, and athletes.

THE GARDEN: From its founding in 1999, the Columbus Botanical Garden has been a steward of a 20-acre rolling property located about 6 miles northeast of downtown Columbus (the property has now grown to 23 acres).

Bruce McPherson Campaign Announcement

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THE EVENT: Bruce McPherson, a former Green Beret and Georgia native, announced on September 6th he was running for United States Congressional District 2 seat in Georgia.

BACKGROUND: While attending the University of Georgia, McPherson joined the school’s ROTC program and upon graduation enlisted as a Second Lieutenant and a Platoon Leader in the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

PLATFORM/HIGHLIGHTS: Some of the platforms that McPherson is running on are national security, economic revitalization, education and protecting farmers and small business. In Southwest Georgia, also known as Congressional District 2, 30 percent of people live below the poverty line, something McPherson plans on changing.

Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum

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THE EVENT: The 2017 Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum was held on August 28-29 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. The theme of the 2017 Forum was “Inspired Leadership”. 

THE SPEAKERS: Columbus State University president Chris Markwood; Georgia U.S. Senator David Perdue; General Eric J. Wesley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning; Dan Rose, Facebook Vice President of Partnerships; Amy Cuddy, a New York Times best-selling author; Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer; Leadership Institute Director Shana Young and CSU Women’s Head Basketball Coach Anita Howard; Chris Conlee, author and Lead Pastor at Highpoint Church; Jim Blanchard, who had a Q&A session with Ed Helton of the CSU Leadership Institute; John O’Leary, inspirational speaker and best-selling author; Ron Clark, America’s Educator; and Bruce Pfau, partner at KPMG LLP.

The 2017 Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum was held on August 28-29 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. The theme of the 2016 Forum was “Inspired Leadership”. The Forum is sponsored by Mr. Blanchard and The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University along with Platinum Sponsors Synovus, TSYS, and AT&T; Gold Sponsors W. C. Bradley Company, Aflac, Georgia CEO, Ledger-Enquirer, and Motion House Media.; Silver Sponsors Georgia Trend and the Georgia Chamber; and Bronze Sponsors 2WR Partners, Columbus State University Bookstore, and Liberty Utilities; and Supporter Kodak.  Over 1,000 attendees joined together on Monday evening and Tuesday to hear the “best and brightest minds in the world.”

This year the speakers all have Inspired, which means literally to “breathe into.” They have inspired – breathed life and passion into – education, politics, military, technology, business, religion, and personal achievement. This year’s theme, “Inspired Leadership,” is exemplified in this group of speakers. Opening the program on Monday afternoon was Dr. Chris Markwood, president of Columbus State University, who welcomed the attendees to the event.  Speakers for Monday afternoon were Georgia U.S. Senator David Perdue and former Fortune 500 CEO; General Eric J. Wesley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning; Dan Rose, Facebook vice president of partnerships; and Amy Cuddy, a New York Times best-selling author.

Octavia Spencer, an Academy Award-winning actress, headlined the 12th annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum at the dinner on Monday evening.  The Blanchard Award for Outstanding Stewardship and Ethics in Business was also presented to Chick-fil-A Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Cathy during the evening.

On Tuesday, several additional big thinkers shared their leadership strategies, successes, and failures, and the take-away lessons they’ve learned: Leadership Institute Director Shana Young and CSU Women’s Head Basketball Coach Anita Howard; Chris Conlee, author and Lead Pastor at Highpoint Church; Jim Blanchard, who had a Q&A session with Ed Helton of the CSU Leadership Institute; John O’Leary, inspirational speaker and best-selling author; Ron Clark, America’s Educator; and Bruce Pfau, partner at KPMG LLP.

River Raffle 2017

THE EVENT: The Ninth Annual Historic Columbus River Raffle was held Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the new Mott House Terrace at TSYS.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: Prior to the Terrace activities, a Patrons Reception was held in the TSYS Lobby, which is adjacent to the site of the River Raffle. Food at the River Raffle was provided by local restaurants including Country’s Barbecue, Ezell’s Catfish Cabin, River and Rail, and Kilwins, among others.

THE PURPOSE: The event is a fundraiser for Historic Columbus, and helps the HC continue to fund various projects throughout the community and promote economic development through historic preservation.

Upatoi Polo Cup

THE EVENT: The 38th Annual Upatoi Polo Cup took place at Flournoy Farm on Sunday, September 17 in Upatoi, Georgia.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: Attendees enjoyed the finals of the Upatoi Polo Cup, as well as a family fun picnic. This year’s winner was team Upatoi Blue over Makarrow Farms from Dallas, Texas. The winning team members are: Denis Santana, Pelon Escapite, Polo Baez, and Mason Lampton.

THE PURPOSE: The Upatoi Polo Cup is an annual polo tournament whose consolation and championship matches are played for the benefit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley.

Columbus Botanical Garden Patron's Party

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THE EVENT: The Columbus Botanical Garden Patron’s Party took place on October 2, at the Botanical Garden on Weems Road.

SPECIAL GUEST: Preston Bailey is a designer with a passion for creating designs to be enjoyed by the public as well as his clients. He has created a number of art installations which feature across the world with showcases in New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taiwan, and London.

THE PURPOSE: Initially created through a donation of land and structures from the Adams family, the Garden is anchored by a large historic farmhouse. Already a sought after destination for weddings and casual strolls through the Garden and native forest, CBG aspires to significantly expand its ‘garden’ offerings to provide an immersive year-round experience for a wider array of visitors.

CSU's 2017 Spring Swing

THE EVENT: On Saturday April 29th, Columbus State University presented the second annual Spring Swing held in downtown Columbus at Woodruff Park.

THE PURPOSE: The Spring Swing is held annually with proceeds to benefit Columbus State University’s new Minor in Dance program. This program is offered under the CSU Department of Theatre and will enable students in our region to fulfill their hopes and dreams of entering the dance world as performers, choreographers, teachers or arts managers.

THE HIGHLIGHT: Dance lovers from all over the region danced the night away under the stars to the rhythm of The Shimmer Band - a powerhouse show band from Atlanta.  Guests enjoyed the diversity of music that they played from Big Band to Rock & Roll to current Billboard hits.

Groundbreaking of the Rapids at Riverfront Place

THE EVENT: Mat Swift, President and COO, W.C Bradley Co. real Estate, and Marc Olivié, President and CEO, of the W.C Bradley Co. welcome the media, family and friends to the groundbreaking ceremony of The Rapids at Riverfront Place.

THE PROJECT:  The Rapids is a 5-story mixed-use building, which includes 226 luxury apartments and more than 15,000 square feet of retail, shops, and restaurant space. The Rapids will be the first of four planned projects within the masterplanned development by W.C. Bradley Co. named Riverfront Place. Located between 13th and 14th Streets, and constructed on top of a two-story parking podium, The Rapids has been uniquely designed to overlook the Chattahoochee River, the Riverwalk, and Legacy Park.

THE RAPIDS AT A GLANCE:  226 studio, one, and two bedroom homes. 15,000 sq. feet of shops and restaurants. On-site management. Controlled access, covered parking. One-ofa-kind amenities. 24 hour fitness center.

2017 Let There Be Art!

The Columbus Museum kicked off its 2017 annual sale and celebration of art – Let There Be Art! -- with a Premier Party on Thursday, April 6. From April 6-13, the Museum presented the fine art show. The show provided works of art from various artists and featured galleries. It was a wonderful evening of fine art and food in a festive setting.

Serving on the 2017 Let There Be Art! Committee were: Artist Selection - Marleen Olivie and Garry Pound, Sponsorships – Chris Henson and Sallie Martin, Gala Design – Bob Vardaman, and Luncheon Design – Vandy Middleton and Mary Lou Doughton. In addition to the Gala Premier Party, the weekend featured a Free Family Event Second Saturday on April 8, and a Luncheon with Keynote Speaker Rebecca Wood of R. Wood Studios on Thursday, April 13.

Major sponsors of the event were: Diamond Sponsors Aflac; Platinum Sponsors Bob Vardaman Events Management, Friend of the Museum, TSYS, and W.C. Bradley Co.; and Gold Sponsors Georgia Crown Distributing Company.