ATLANTA — Four decades ago, the movie “Deliverance” introduced the lush north Georgia mountains to the world.
Though many in the region still bristle at the movie's portrayal of locals as uneducated hillbillies, the film helped create the $20 million rafting and outdoor sports industry along the Chattooga River, which splits Georgia and South Carolina.
This weekend, communities along the Chattooga are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the movie's release with the first-ever Chattooga River Festival, even though some locals are unhappy with the idea of reminding the world of the area's connection to the movie.
“It's one of those cases where some good comes out of most everything,” said Stan Darnell, chairman of the Rabun County, Ga., board of commissioners. “Certainly a lot of good came out of that, as far as opening up film industry, the kayaking, the camping.”
Festival organizers say they hope the event can be an annual draw that raises money to preserve the Chattooga River and promotes environmental stewardship. The first year's theme of “Deliverance” simply celebrates the movie that created the adventure sports industry there, said Pete Cleaveland, executive director of the Rabun County, Ga., Convention and Visitors Bureau and vice chairman of the festival committee.
Events include a concert by Ronny Cox, one of the four lead actors in the movie and who played on “Dueling Banjos” in the movie. The iconic tune features the “Yankee Doodle” riff and features prominently in the movie. The schedule also includes a screening of “Deliverance” at the civic center in tiny Clayton, Ga., and a music festival in nearby Long Creek, S.C. at Chattooga Belle Farm.