Locals Only #towniesummer

Locals Only #towniesummer

May 22, 2024Seth Hendershot

A fun trend that happens in our occasionally sleepy college town, when the semester ends and students graduate or head to their summer internships, or race to the beach, or just drive home to get some home cooked meals and laundry done...This begins Townie Summer.

Certainly not unique to Athens GA, home of the Bulldawgs, but definitely unique to a college town every mid May. The residents of said town get to sort of take the town back and enjoy less traffic and bad driving, more parking spaces, shorter waits at restaurants, and open stools at their preferred watering hole. In Athens, GA, like many other college towns there are, in fact, year round residents that call this place home. They raise their kids in the local school system, open businesses that make the town special and fun, maybe work at the university, or in our towns case probably play in 3 or 4 bands and came here because the cost of living is (was) lower than the big city, and Athens GA has a vibrantly rich creative economy.

The University of Georgia does contribute to our local economy, when the students are here. Despite not paying property taxes, oof, there are 8 home college football games in the fall that fill the town with 40-50,000 more people that spend money sort of locally, even though they absolutely trash the town. There are frequent "Parents Weekend" events that certainly drive sales at local restaurants, even though some of those parents are possibly the most high maintenance customers we see all year. And then of course just the day to day business that the students bring is super helpful, even though they don't always have local in mind, unless you consider Starbucks, Chic-Fil-A, and Chipotle local because they rent or buy a local building. Nope.

I understand that I chose to live in a college town but that is not why I moved here. I never finished college and I certainly did not have the GPA to even consider attending UGA. To me the University of Georgia was second to the music and arts scene and I barely noticed it. I came here because of the music and art and stayed because of the people and general funky vibes this town had and in a lot of ways still does. Sure the skyline has changed, costs have gone up, and anyone who has lived here more than a decade loves to lament about how much cooler it was way back when. But this town has soul. It is a town made up of artists, thinkers, creatives, young, old, rich, poor, and middle class folks, liberals, conservatives, christians, muslims, buddhists, atheists, and even flat earthers. Hell I think this Georgia town may be one of the most if not the most racially diverse towns in the Southeast if not the US. And the best part is on any given day if you walk into Hendershot's on Prince Ave you may see two or more representatives from any of these "groups" having a conversation over coffee or a beer, or listening to an artist they all love, finding common ground, and just being together, talking, and listening.

I am certainly not intending to make this about what a drag it is during fall and spring semester, cause it's not...always. I am simply highlighting the fact that for a couple of months a year the town is all ours and we can take care of it and each other.

It's Townie Summer y'all, go shop at a local gift store or eat lunch at a local restaurant, or buy some coffee from a local roaster, or throw a block party with your neighbor, or just take some time to remember the magic that is our town.

I love it here and I love my community, and I love the GA Bulldawgs and all the students and faculty, or well most of them. However, in the words of Mikey Walsh from The Goonies, "Our parents, they want the bestest stuff for us. But right now they gotta do what's right for them, 'cause it's their time. Their time, up there. Down here it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up "Troy's bucket". 

Don't ride up "Troy's bucket" make this summer your time.

Your Townie Summer.


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