It was wonderful to see so many members and guests at our first meeting in the calendar year!  Marianne Ganem-Poppell and Katie Gingrich completed all Red Badge requirements and became Blue Badges at the meeting.  Judge Colbert spoke to the club about the Read United which is the event that will be replacing Rotary Read in.  More information about this will be forthcoming but it is scheduled for Friday, February 24th so please mark your calendars!  After all Rotary business was discussed, Katie Gingrich introduced our speaker for the day, Gene Dobbs Bradford, who is the Executive Director for Savannah Music Festival.  
Gene began his talk with a background on how he became the Executive Director of the Savannah Music Festival (SMF).  Then, he spoke about two programs that SMF does throughout the year for youth in the area: 1. Jazz Academy and 2. Musical Explorers.  After explaining the two programs, he began telling us all about the upcoming Savannah Music Festival which is scheduled for March 23 - April 8.  
The Savannah Music Festival is Georgia's largest musical arts event.  Since SMF is a nonprofit group, they have to raise $2.3 million in order to present the festival.  With that being said, $12 million is spent in Savannah over the 17 day event.  $9 million of the $12 million is from visitors and the city makes $1 million in tax revenue.  There will be 70 artists and 90 shows this year.  Gene wanted to talk to us about all the offerings but decided in the interest of time to highlight six exciting things about the festival this year: 1.  A four night, outdoor experience at Trustees Garden 2. Excellent Classical programming 3. Exciting co-bills 4. The strongest jazz programming ever  5. Exciting return of international artists, and 6. The Explorer Pass. The Explorer Pass allows students in the Chatham County Public School system along with one adult to attend a general admission show for free!  To learn more about the Savannah Music Festival, please visit