Lynn Brinson has joined a prestigious group of persons who have served the Pine Tree Festival to an especially commendable degree. During the opening ceremony of the 75th Annual Pine Tree Festival in downtown Swainsboro this past Saturday, the wife and mother of two was taken completely by surprise as Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce CEO Ken Warnock introduced her as the newest recipient of the coveted Green Jacket.
Brinson, a native of Jenkins County, has a storied history, like the long line of Green Jacket recipients who came before her, of servitude as it relates to helping complete the logistics of the festival and, moreover, to the local community.
Her involvement in Swainsboro and its historic festival began back in 2010 when she was hired as the director of downtown development. However, her journey to that point predates that as she spent several years working in similar roles, which primed her for success when she arrived.
Brinson graduated from Jenkins County High School in 2002, then went on to graduate from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s in 2005. Just two years later, she completed her master’s degree from Georgia Southern and set out to work thereafter.
Today, more than half of Brinson’s career has been spent locally building and promoting the area. Her first gig of this kind saw her land a job as an intern in Vidalia. That internship turned into a permanent position with the Vidalia Onion Festival. From there, Brinson North Carolina area, specifically Lincolnton. While there, she coordinated a number of events and festivals, including the Hog Happenin’, a state championship KCBS-sanctioned barbecue cook-off and motorcycle rally, a Christmas parade, an art stroll, and other like events.
In 2010, she received word from family and friends back home that Swainsboro had a vacant position like her job at the time. She applied and was thrilled to be hired as it was up her alley and closer to home.
From that year onward, Brinson has been involved with the Pine Tree Festival.
“I remember arriving as Swainsboro’s DDA director the week before the festival. It was kind of like I was thrown into the fire, but in a good way,” Brinson recalled. “I’ve been a part of every festival since then, and I love it.”
When asked about her favorite Pine Tree Festival memory, Brinson cited her newest one.
“Getting to ride in the Cadillac with my husband, Daniel, and my two children, Nate and Kate... That was pretty special, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” she explained.
Of course, through the years, she has amassed a collection of memories that are special in their own way. Most notably, Brinson has enjoyed being able to get creative with entertainment ideas, and she takes special pride in the persons and groups who were able to make it to the festivities, much to festival-goers’ delight. Some of these, for example, were the airdogs, the BMX riders, and cast members from Swamp People.
Getting back to her Green Jacket bestowal, Brinson says she had no clue she would be this year’s recipient.
“I was honestly so surprised, and I think the fact that I was surprised that way is a testament to my family being able to keep a secret very well,” Brinson said with a laugh.
Looking back, however, she sees a few indicators.
“I was headed over to The Boneyard at about 9:58, and my husband had been instructed to keep me in the area of the stage at Main and Main. He came running up behind me in a full sprint to get me to come back,” Brinson continued, laughing. “It was a funny moment and I was puzzled, but I understand it now.”
The realization would not hit her until she, the grand marshal, rode in the parade for a while. When it sank in, she was humbled.
“Just to be in the group of recipients of the Green Jacket, having my picture taken with some of the former winners... It means everything to me. I love the festival because I think it speaks to the goodness of Emanuel County and the people who live here. That’s what makes the Pine Tree Festival special—it’s ours, and for one day, we all come together and have a great time, no matter what’s going on in life. I’m so appreciative to be given this honor, and I can’t wait to keep being a contributor to the festival in years to come.”