Bring the family and kids and don’t forget your dancing shoes. That’s the message organizers of the 2016 Prater Music Fest want to send local and regional visitors planning to attend Friday’s street party in downtown Ocilla.
“We want everyone to come out and have a wonderful time dancing and enjoying the live music,” Mayor Matt Seale said about the celebration honoring Ocilla native Dave Prater of the Grammy Award-winning 60s singing group Sam and Dave.
Prater, an Ocilla native, traveled the world entertaining and was killed in a car crash in Sycamore in 1988 while driving from Atlanta to visit his mother in Ocilla. Nearly 30 years after his death, fans still love the Sam and Dave music.
“Based on the publicity we’ve gotten from throughout the south and central Georgia region, we’re expecting a lot of out-of-town visitors to join the festivities – and that doesn’t include the many Prater family relatives expected to attend,” said Connie Prater, a member of the 2016 event planning committee.
This is the second year Ocilla is honoring Dave Prater and his family. Seale said he hopes to make it an annual event that features multiples over two or three days.
This year’s festival features three events: Thursday’s tribute dinner, Friday’s street party and Saturday’s worship service (see the At a glance box for details on each event).
Proceeds from the dinner will go toward a scholarship fund for Irwin County High School students interested in pursuing musical careers.
Seale thanked all of the planning committee and community members who volunteered to organize the event and the sponsors supporting the festival.
The 2016 sponsors are: Albert and Helen Deberry, Connie Prater, Dave Prater’s Children, Davis Tyson Funeral Home, Dill Farms, Forest River Inc., Horace and Kim Hudgins, McWhorter Driscoll, LLC, Operation Save Our Youth (OSOY)/Reginald Miller, Planters First Bank, South Central Primary Care, and United Home & Lawn Service/Reginald Miller. Additional sponsors include: Mr. and Mrs. Albert Williams, Fitzgerald Ford and Fitzgerald Chrysler.
For more information about the event, go to the official website at www.PraterMusicFest.com or call City Hall at 229-468-5141.
At a glance: Prater Music Fest events
Thursday: A Prater tribute dinner starts at 6 p.m. at the Community House, 711 S. Irwin Ave. Former Sam and Dave band trumpet player Newton Collier is the guest speaker. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Friday: A free block party with live music and fun from 6 to 9 p.m. on North Cherry Street in downtown Ocilla.
Saturday: A community worship service at 12 noon at Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church, 207 E. Seventh St.
If you go to the street party
Members of the Prater festival planning committee pass on the following tips for those planning to attend Friday’s street party on North Cherry Street.
Seating: Bring chairs. There will be limited seating on bleachers. An umbrella to block the sun may also come in handy.
Family fun: Bring the kids. A bounce house and costumed characters will be on hand for the little ones.
Food and drinks: The Irwin County High School band boosters will be selling food, snacks and soft drinks. In addition, area restaurants will be open for business and welcome your patronage.
Parking: Parking is available on surrounding streets and in the Ocilla Baptist Church parking lot on Cherry at 5th Street.
Assistance: Golf carts will be available to transport seniors or disabled visitors who want a lift to and from their vehicles. Anyone with golf carts who want to volunteer their services is asked to call City Hall to sign up. Please observe any no-parking zones and respect private property.
T-shirts: The 2016 Prater t-shirts will be available for $10 at the tribute dinner, street fest or Ocilla-Irwin Chamber of Commerce. Each year the festival will feature a different shirt, so start collecting them.
Fans: Did you get a commemorative fan last year? Just like the t-shirts, the fans will be different every year. The 2016 design focuses on Prater’s years growing up in Ocilla. Since the event was moved to May from February, those fans will definitely come in handy this year.
Hotel discounts: Out-of-town guests can get discounted rates at the following local hotels if they tell them they are booking for the Prater Music Fest: The Regents Inn (229-468-3350) in Ocilla and the Western Motel (229-424-9500) in Fitzgerald.
Honor "Soul Man" Dave Prater today with a Tweet or Facebook post
Today, May 9, 2016, would have been Dave Prater’s 79th birthday.
Those of you who loved the music he made with the Sam and Dave band please join us in honoring his memory.
Let’s send some social media love. Please post the following on Twitter or Facebook:
"Happy Birthday, #DavePrater from #Your City. http://bit.ly/1qNnJW9"
Put your home city in for “Your City” so that we know how far and wide the love for this man stretches. Be sure to put hashtag (#) DavePrater in your post.
We will randomly select a winner from the posts to receive a 2016 Prater Music Fest t-shirt. The winner will be contacted via his or her Facebook or Twitter account.
We want this to go viral, so please share it with your friends throughout social media.
This week Prater's hometown city of Ocilla, Ga., is honoring his memory with three days of events May 12-14, 2016. It's the second year of a celebration they hope to expand over the years into a regional music staple that draws thousands for dancing and music.
More About Dave:
Dave Prater was born May 9, 1937, in Ocilla, Ga., a rural south Central Georgia community located about three hours south of Atlanta.
He was the eighth of 11 children born to farmers Dave and Mary Prater. This week Ocilla residents and visitors will honor this local talent with a dinner, street festival and community worship service.
Prater and Sam Moore gained the most fame from their 1967 smash hit “Soul Man.” It earned them the Grammy Award for Best R&B Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental, in 1968. Nominated in the same category were Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell for “Aint No Mountain High Enough” and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles for “I Second that Emotion.”
Tragically, Dave Prater died not far from his boyhood home in April 1988 after the car he was driving veered off the road on a sharp curve and careened into a tree. He was on his way from Atlanta to visit his mother, Mary Prater, in Ocilla.
See his full bio here: Dave Prater, the man, the music.
For the 2016 Prater Fest events schedule, go to: Prater Music Festival Events.