On Saturday, for the first time, J&J Flea Market will hold a music festival on its outdoor stage. The free daytime event will feature Athens’ Universal Sigh and Daniel Hardin, Atlanta’s Sound Medicine and Foster, rock and soul group FredX and Nashville’s Magnolia Wind.
Known as Georgia’s largest outdoor flea market, J&J is open every Saturday and Sunday at 11661 Commerce Road. It’s been around for more than 30 years, and began as the J&J Center, a concert venue specializing in country music, according to General Manager Lee Largin. “Music was there first,” he says. Now, Largin wants to bring the music back in hopes it will attract new customers to J&J.
“Flea markets have been around a long time, and we want to make sure that all generations are introduced to it and know what they are, how they operate and everything they have to offer,” Largin says.
In planning the first J&J Music Festival, Largin received assistance from the market’s parent company, United Flea Markets. Largin had the stage and the idea, and United’s marketing arm helped with planning and promotion. “It’s great to have that support within your organization that sees your vision,” he says.
Largin says putting together the festival was a lengthy but rewarding process. “It’s tedious but fun,” he says, adding that the bands and everyone involved have been helpful and professional. This is Largin’s first time planning a music fest, and he says he’s learned a lot that will help him down the line. “We want to continue to have more live music, and that’s why we want this to be a success.”
Organizers chose performers based on who they thought would bring in the widest possible audience and provide a diverse style of music to attendees. “The goal was to have a little bit of everything, but more so [it was] looking at Athens and who they like, and listening to people who want to play and practice their craft and do a good job,” says Largin.
The family-friendly event will host about 10 vendors near the stage, including artists and craftspeople, Italian ice and food trucks. The market’s regular events will be going on as normal, so patrons can check out both the market and the festival.
“There’s something for everybody, whether it be arts, crafts or some little treasure somebody’s had in the attic that you can’t live without,” Largin says.
Keeping community and music at the forefront, the event will be free and open to everyone, the same as the flea market. Largin hopes a successful first festival will lead to more regular live music at the market, as well as making the festival an annual event. In fact, he says he plans for it to continue to grow each year.
“Athens is a very music-driven community, and this helps us become part of that community as a company and as a flea market,” Largin says. “We want to be rooted in the community, and it’s something we enjoy.”
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.