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He took to the potter’s wheel while recuperating from a kidney transplant

Check out scenes from the Georgia Jug Festival and Old Knoxville Days

The Georgia Jug Festival and Old Knoxville Days honor the heritage of Crawford County, which was a major pottery center in the 1800s and into the 1930s.
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The Georgia Jug Festival and Old Knoxville Days honor the heritage of Crawford County, which was a major pottery center in the 1800s and into the 1930s.

Kristen Malachowski and her family have been coming to the annual Georgia Jug Festival and Old Knoxville Days for the past four years.

“This man!” Malachowski exclaimed Saturday as she pointed to Bo Thompson as to why she keeps coming back. “We buy a pig from him every year.”

The clay pig and other wares are fashioned on a potter’s wheel, molded and painted by hand by Thompson and his wife, Angela Hodges, on their beef cattle farm in Social Circle near Madison.

“They are so different — different than anybody else has,” said Malachowski, who lives in Warner Robins. “They are definitely folk art.”

Thompson and Hodges, a dentist, started taking pottery classes in 2011 from Julie Keepers, a teacher at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody, at her home.

A month later, Thompson, who had been on the waiting list for a kidney, had a transplant. He learned his craft while recuperating.

“It was a blessing to have that to do while recuperating,” Thompson said. “As for the art, I don’t know where that came from. It just spewed forth.”

Julie Holseth, of Byron, brought along her friend, Diane Greene, to the festival this year.

“I think it’s cool,” Greene said. “I’m looking to buy a vase — and some flowers. I’m a flower nut.”

Holseth was showing Greene around and explaining about the pottery she was seeing. Holseth’s ancestry includes the Long family, who were well known for their jug making when Crawford County was a major pottery center in the 1800s and into the 1930s.

The annual festival celebrates that heritage.

Holseth, who doesn’t craft pottery herself, also came to festival to see the work of her friend, Derek Belflower, of Cochran.

“I’ve always had an artistic knack,” said Belflower, who majored in art marketing at Georgia College.

His career took him in a different direction. But he later returned to the classroom to learn pottery and now crafts his creations in a barn behind his home.

He still works full-time and sells his wares as a side business.

Other wares from wooden bowls to furniture to wreaths to candles and fresh honey also are available for sale. The festival also includes food, live entertainment, a car show, a lawn mower race and activities for children such as face painting.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

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