After three years of battling
budget shortfalls and other startup obstacles, the Ohio River Valley Folk
Festival is finally getting its footing and seems destined for a great
year in 2009 when the event returns to the Madison, Ind., riverfront on
Festival Chairman John Walburn has recruited new blood into his 16-member
committee, and the enthusiasm is strong for taking the festival to the
next level, he says. What may seem ironic is that in this time of economic
uncertainty, Walburns committee has obtained more sponsorship commitments
from area companies than ever before. Whats more, all but one Saturday
afternoon musical act has been booked, including the headliners for Friday
and Saturday nights.
With a sponsorship goal of $28,000, already $17,500 has been committed
by local businesses. And more could be on the way, including one potential
large sponsorship yet to be secured. Last year at this time, the committee
had garnered only $16,000 in sponsorships, Walburn said. Those companies
who have stepped up so far to become a sponsor in 2009 include Gaylor
Inc., Historic Broadway Hotel & Tavern, Riverboat Inn, Madison Precision
Products Inc., Rivertown Chiropractic, Auxier Gas, and Jenner, Auxier
& Pattison law firm.
The following festivals operate
under the umbrella of the
Madison Area Convention
and Visitors Bureau.
River Valley Folk Festival (May)
$1,723 net profit
Budget for 2009 = $81,000
$18,655 net profit
Budget for 2009 = $335,045
$1,571 net profit
Budget for 2009 = TBD
Before Christmas Tour of Homes (Nov.-Dec.)
$14,720 net profit
Before Christmas Nights & Nibbles Trolley Tour
$673 net profit for CVB
chair reports to the Madison CVB Board
We think this will be our breakout year.
We have never been this far ahead in sponsorship money or band bookings
in the history of the festival, Walburn reported to the Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at its Dec. 15 monthly meeting.
Walburn is joined by several new people on the committee who have helped
save the event from possible extinction by its parent organization, the
Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Fred Shimfessel, Dave Auxier
and Molly Dodge are among the group that strongly believes in the potential
of this event to grow in the same fashion as the wildly popular Madison
Ribberfest. Both events were conceived by the late Jeff Garrett, who died
in October 2005 before seeing this latest festival come to fruition.
The Folk Festival operates on a $81,000 budget, compared to the 7-year-old
Ribberfest, whose budget tops $335,000.
The first year, with Jeffs death, we got a late start and
lost about $5,000, Walburn recalled. The second year, we broke
even. And the third year, we made a little money, so we are getting there.
Shimfessel has devised a new festival membership program that he hopes
will generate about $5,000 in banner sales for the festival. Banner sales
in the past have only provided about $2,200, Walburn said. Each club member
will be entered in a drawing to win a custom-made acoustic guitar by Madisons
The festival is set up similar to Ribberfest, using the citys mobile
stage as the centerpiece. There are beer and wine tents, a food court
and various vendor displays for the sale and demonstration of folk art
products. There is also the Storytelling stage and childrens programs.
Sam Bush, considered the Jimmy Hendrix of the mandolin, has
been booked as this years Saturday night headliner; The Kennedys
will take the stage Friday evening.
Madison CVB Board members expressed concerns about
the viability of the event last summer and set down goals for the Folk
Festival committee to meet by November 2008 or they threatened to cancel
it. Those goals included signing sponsors and bands early, and filling
the various chairs of the festival committee. Walburn assured the board
he had more than met those goals.
More information and the complete musical lineup can be found at www.OhioRiverValleyFolkFestival.com.
Taste of Madison to be revived
A Taste of Madison is scheduled to
return in mid-March when the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Center
revives the one-day event. The tentative date is Sunday, March 15. The
Madison CVB board in November voted to revive the event after hearing
a pitch from tourism director Linda Lytle as a way of generating additional
A Taste of Madison had several years run before with
limited success but was not an official CVB event then. As in the past,
tickets will be sold giving participants a certain number of taste tickets
to sample the fare of various restaurants and wineries. Tickets will likely
cost $40 with additional single taste tickets available for sale, Lytle
Lytle said she will probably schedule the event at Clifty Falls State
Park lodge, but had not yet made the arrangements. More details will follow
in the coming months.
Southern Indiana Arts Trail earns grant
A seven-county southern Indiana Arts Trail project that includes Jefferson
County has received a $10,000 grant from the states Artisan Trail
Development Grant program, Lytle reported to her board in December. This
trail is being developed by a segment of the Ohio River Scenic Byway membership
to create an arts trail that will run through Jefferson, Ripley, Franklin,
Jennings, Dearborn, Jackson and Decatur counties.
Representatives from the seven counties collaborating on the new project
must now come up with a match of $15,000 for the grant. In addition to
the trail, the money will be used to create a 140-page, four-color paperback
book. The book will provide information on each artisan, maps to their
locations and will also include information about area candy stores, wineries
and other unique culinary products. There is an 18-month window to complete
The statewide Artisan Project was created last year by the Indiana Department
of Tourism to support and promote Hoosier artisans and handmade products.
The project is a joint venture between the Indiana Office of Community
and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, the Indiana
State Department of Agriculture and the Indiana Arts Commission. IADP
recently unveiled its new logo and is working to sign up artisans throughout
the state to participate in its juried arts program. Lytle said there
are 85 artists already juried into the state program, but the list includes
only five from Jefferson County: the Thomas Family Winery, Darlene Yarnetsky
of Mudcat Pottery, photographer Matt Hicks, artist Larry Rudolech and
custom acoustic guitar maker Clint Bear.
We have 15 to 20 artisans who should be on that list, and if we
are going to claim to be an artist community, we need to get more people
on the list, Lytle said.
She added that the CVB will be working with local artists to complete
the lengthy application in early 2009 for the two rounds of jurying to
take place next year. The process will require actual samples of artwork
to be submitted next year, as opposed to just photos of the work as in
Lytle was scheduled to appear before the Jefferson
County Board of Tourism on Dec. 22 to request an increase in innkeepers
tax revenue to help fund the CVB boards 2009 operating budget, totaling
The CVB last year received $235,000 from the JCBT as part of its $330,000
budget. The 2008 JCBT contribution represented an increase of $20,000
from 2007. The CVB board also took $2,200 from the Ribberfest account
in 2008 to pay for its operating expenses.
This years proposed CVB budget has been increased another $2,300
from festival income, plus an increase of $250 in the countys contribution
to the budget. The city of Madison, however, decreased its contribution
by $1,000 to $9,000 for 2009. Miscellaneous income from such things as
gift shop sales declined by $2,169.
Projected personnel expenses for salaries and insurance, meanwhile, rose
by more than $5,000. The salary for the executive director was increased
to $41,417. Other staff employees include the fulltime bookkeeper and
group tour coordinator, and the part-time marketing director. All received
cost of living increases. Also included in the personnel budget are weekend
desk staff and the cleaning person.
The Madison Chautauqua coordinator remained at $24,500, while the salary
of $14,000 for the Madison Ribberfest coordinator was increased by $2,000
to $16,000. The festival chairperson salaries are paid from each festivals
The JCBT increased the tourism marketing budget by $10,000 to $105,000
for 2008, but it remains the same for 2009.
The CVB Board in December voted to approve the
addition of Historic Madison Inc. Executive Director John Staicer to replace
outgoing Joe Carr, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical
Society. Also, the Madison Area Chamber of Commerces appointee,
Brenda Eversole, is leaving the board. She is being replaced by the chamber
with its past board president Kevin Watkins. As an appointee, Watkins
addition did not require a vote of approval by the CVB board.
Staicer and Watkins will join the other CVB board members, which includes
Lucy Dattilo (at large-retail), president; Renie Stephens (JCBT appointee),
vice president; Andy Lytle (City of Madison appointee); Jim Crone (County
Council appointee); Corey Murphy (Economic Development Partners Inc. appointee);
A.J. Mistry (JCBT appointee); and Bob Schoenstein (City Council appointee).
These two new board members will take over in 2009, when the board meets
for its annual January Retreat, set for Jan. 19. The winter meeting allows
time for board members to review its strategies, mission and goals for
the coming year.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.