As Georgefest moves toward its second anniversary of operation, the monthly community nightlife celebration has officially transitioned to being a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, it was announced recently by Georgefest founder and board chair Melynda Thorpe. Formerly managed by Emceesquare Media, Georgefest is now administered by A.R.T.S., Inc. and governed by a board of directors that also includes George Scott, vice president; Marianne Hamilton, secretary; Stephen Lambert, treasurer; and John Kessler, member-at-large.
“Achieving non-profit status is a significant milestone that sets the stage for George to become a permanent resident event in our community,” said Thorpe. She added that Georgefest’s financial operations will enjoy complete transparency as the organization is now formalized as a nonprofit entity.
“I am very pleased to announce a board of directors that is comprised of recognized community leaders and volunteers,” said Thorpe. “Each has made significant contributions to the event since its inception in June 2015, and with their vision and guidance, it is my hope that this beloved monthly event will remain a permanent part of the southern Utah entertainment landscape for many years to come.”
Thorpe becomes board chair after successfully launching Georgefest (formerly George Streetfest) and guiding it to prominence in St. George. She brings an eclectic set of skills to the task, with expertise in public relations and strategic communications, documentary and corporate film production, event design, brand management, and more. Recently appointed as content curator and brand strategist at the Southern Utah University Marketing Communications Office, Thorpe is also a member of the board of directors of Arts to Zion, president of Emceesquare Media Inc. (a public relations and media production company), and an active member of the Public Relations Society of America. Before launching Emceesquare Media Inc., Thorpe’s resume included stints as associate features editor and contributor at Etched Magazine, media operations and publicity manager at DOCUTAH International Film Festival, and Utah Valley University’s director of publications and creative services.
Georgefest board vice president George Scott is the founder of The Desert Pulse. A Washington County native, music fanatic, people watcher, experience creator, and former contributor to The Independent, Scott has been chronicling food, live entertainment, and the arts since launching the Desert Pulse in November of 2015. Previously, Scott served as special events manager and sponsor relations coordinator for the City of Washington. He brings to his board position connections with the greater St. George community that have enabled him to create a consistent sponsor base for Georgefest. He is also charged with identifying and booking bands and other performers for The Desert Pulse Jazz Garden.
Marianne Hamilton assumes the role of Georgefest board secretary after a year as the event’s media and public relations manager. A career journalist and marketing writer, Hamilton is a regular contributor to St. George Health & Wellness magazine and a number of other publications. Additionally, she is a member of the St. George Arts Commission and the Art Around the Corner board of directors and co-administrator of the St. George Wine Club. An active “senior athlete,” Hamilton is also a fitness instructor at Sand Hollow Aquatic Center and a race director for the Huntsman World Senior Games.
In his new post as board treasurer, Stephen Lambert will manage all Georgefest finances. Currently the director of human resources at Red Mountain Spa where he oversees an employee base of 250, Lambert is a seasoned motivational speaker and trainer. He is also the founder and CEO of 5STARconcepts, which provides customized training and coaching services to the hospitality industry. To pursue his passion in assisting others with their personal and professional growth, Lambert also founded the dare2BECOME series of webinars, retreats, and coaching programs. Since Georgefest was first introduced, Lambert has been a familiar presence on Main Street, managing all vendor relations and operations.
New board member-at-large John Kessler is an active advocate for historic downtown St. George. A member of the management team at Best Western Coral Hills, Kessler serves as chair of the St. George Arts Commission and as president of the St. George Lodging and Tourism Association. Kessler is also a member of the St. George Chamber of Commerce “Sunshiners” booster club and of the Downtown Merchant Group’s advisory board and has been director of the Olde World Historical Society, which presents the St. George Dickens Festival, for the past 14 years. A longtime stage actor, director, and teacher, Kessler can often be seen in roles at Brigham’s Playhouse and other venues.
With its new nonprofit status, a new board in place, and a new venue for The Desert Pulse Jazz Garden at Green Gate Village, Thorpe and her team are excited about the future of Georgefest.
“Just as the event has changed and grown since we launched two years ago, so has the group working behind the scenes,” Thorpe noted. “We are grateful that the community continues to embrace and support Georgefest in such a positive way, and we look forward to continuing to present world-class entertainment that everyone can get excited about.”
Georgefest, a nightlife event intended to celebrate the best of southern Utah, is held on the first Friday of every month from 6 to 10 p.m. with the Desert Pulse Jazz Garden at Green Gate Village open until midnight April–October. The event is sponsored by the City of St. George, St. George Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Canyon Media, St. George News, Etched Magazine, The Independent, The Desert Pulse, Iron Gate Winery, and Wasatch Brewery.
More information on Georgefest or becoming a vendor is available at georgestreetfest.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Georgefest organizers are now accepting applications for street market vendors, buskers, and food vendors.