As the sun reached its peak in the sky, the atmosphere at the 2024 AthFest Arts and Music Festival was full of excitement. Vendors, artists, musicians, and volunteers were all busy getting ready for the first day of the festival on Friday, June 21.

After last year’s festival was cut short due to a storm, this year’s AthFest was eagerly anticipated. The event featured talented musicians performing on three different stages across downtown Athens.

By 4:30 p.m., more than 220 volunteers and staff from AthFest Educates had been working hard to set up the stages and markets for the festival. Vendor tents offering a variety of items such as clothes, jewelry, art, and decor lined Washington Street between Lumpkin Street and Hull Street.

Despite the intense heat, attendees gathered around the outdoor stages, eagerly awaiting the start of the performances. The first show kicked off at 5 p.m. on the Wicked Weed Stage with the psychedelic space band Organically Programmed.

Jackson Mclendon, a senior horticulture student at the University of Georgia, expressed his support for the band and the overall atmosphere of AthFest. He mentioned that the festival brings artists and the community together in a unique and immersive experience.

After Organically Programmed’s set, Mary Joyce, the executive director of AthFest Educates, thanked attendees and encouraged them to support the fundraiser by purchasing merchandise. She then introduced the post-punk band Neat Freak, who delivered a high-energy performance on the Hull Street Stage.

Throughout the evening, bands like Cardynal + the Flock and Goodhost performed on the various stages, entertaining the growing crowds. The KidsFest stage also featured performances from kid-friendly musicians, providing entertainment for families attending the festival.

As the sun began to set, the atmosphere at AthFest reached its peak around 7:30 p.m. The Asymptomatics took the stage on the Wicked Weed Stage, dressed in retro and unique styles to match their music. The band delivered an electrifying performance, with backup vocals provided by Neat Freak.

As the first day of AthFest came to a close, Triplicate closed out the live performances on the Hull Street stage, while popular Athens band Heffner ended the night on the Wicked Weed Stage. Attendees enjoyed the music as the sun set on the city.

After Heffner’s set, many festival-goers headed to the after-hours shows for the AthFest Club Crawl at various venues around the city. David Hunt, a longtime attendee of AthFest, praised the festival for its diverse lineup of bands and fun atmosphere.

The AthFest Music and Arts Festival would continue on Saturday with a full day of performances starting at noon, promising more music, art, and community spirit for attendees to enjoy.