Madison Festivals Update

Knoble selected as the 2011
Madison Chautauqua poster artist

By Don Ward
Owner, Editor

(September 2011) – The Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has a new name: VisitMadison.
The city’s tourism board on Aug. 22 voted to adopt the name but retain its original legal name. It will begin “doing business as” VisitMadison right away, and it already uses the name for its website address: www.VisitMadison.org.
Meeting just two days after the largest ever crowd to attend its Madison Ribberfest, the board heard reports from its three major festivals: Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, Madison Ribberfest and Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art.
Madison Chautauqua coordinator Georgie Kelly reported that a maximum 250 booths will be rented for the upcoming festival. The 41st annual festival is scheduled for Sept. 24-25.
Madison artist Lou Knoble has been selected as this year’s poster artist. He has also created the T-shirt design.
A pre-Chautauqua poster signing event is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the West Street Art Center, 301 West St. Price of the posters is $45 each and there is a limited of only 200 posters printed.
Knoble was born in Buffalo, N.Y., where he attended high school and college. He lived across the street from the Museum of Science, where he attended classes after school from 8 to 18 years old. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War era. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the New York State University at Buffalo on the GI Bill. He taught at Starpoint Central in western New York for seven years before coming to Madison, where he retired after 30 years.
While art has been the main focal point of his career, Knoble coached track and cross country for more than 40 years. He worked part time at Hanover College as an assistant coach, a communications assistant and taught an occasional art class.
Knoble, along with Oscar B. Bear and Emmet Wood, downtown businessmen, and several art teachers, such as Hal Davis and Gary Chapman, were instrumental in organizing the art fair that became known as the Madison Chautauqua.
Kelly said plans are on schedule for this year’s show. But she said the festival committee is working to better enforce its “No Pets” policy at this year’s event. No pets are allowed into the show but many people bring them in anyway. It is difficult for the all-volunteer staff to enforce the rule, so the committee is considering hiring daytime security this year. "People seem to respect a person in uniform. It is expensive but that may be our only option,” she said.
Meantime, Ohio River Valley Folk Festival chairman Greg Ziesemer appeared before the tourism board with folk fest committee member Darrell Auxier to request a vote of approval on newly drafted by-laws and articles of incorporation to establish 501c-3 status for the Ohio River Valley Folk Society Inc. The Folk Festival committee wants the non-profit status so it can begin applying for grant money and seeking corporation donations to help fund the event. They want to reach out farther than Madison for corporate sponsorship because they say Madison area businesses are tapped out having already been asked to support the other two festivals.
“You can only go to the same well so many times,” Auxier said.
Ziesemer said the organization also wants the status because of the educational mission of the festival to promote river heritage and folk music. The board voted unanimously to approve the Folk Festival’s nonprofit application, which must still be approved by state and federal agencies.
Despite the designation and the creation of a board for the society, the Folk Festival will remain a CVB-owned event and the committee will still report to the tourism board its activities.
Ziesemer said the committee also is pondering a name change for the festival because too many people are not sure what folk music is. “We would like to find a name that is more succinct and better defines what we are all about,” he said.
“Some people are turned off by the term ‘folk festival’ because it is too vague.
The two also reported that the committee is working hard to contract the bands earlier for next year’s event since they can often get a lower price. Five of the eventual eight bands already have verbally committed for next year’s festival, scheduled for the third weekend of May 2012.
Finally, they reported that the “Halfway to Folk Festival” fundraising event is scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Livery Stable in Madison. It has been purposely scheduled on that date to commemorate festival founder John Walburn, who died on that date last year. Admission to the event has been increased from $5 to $10 this year. The committee is hoping to schedule two bands for the occasion: Mickey Clark and the Blue Norther band from Louisville, Ky., and the locally based Slick River Rockets. Clark’s band played at last May’s Folk Festival.
Madison Ribberfest coordinator Kathy Ayers reported the largest crowd ever for the 10th annual blues event, held Aug. 19-20. Saturday night’s crowd was the largest ever – the night Chicago legend Buddy Guy performed. She estimated the crowd between 12,000 and 14,000 – about 2,000 more than last year. She also reported that admission wristband and food sales were up about 30 percent over last year.
The sale of admission wristbands Friday night at the gate was down about 5,000, but she said advance wristband sales may have accounted for that because they were up over last year.
“Most of the local people buy their wristbands in advance so they can get the food coupons,” she said.
The crowd was so large that beer tents ran of cups but not beer. “We finally told people that if they wanted beer, they had to bring their own cups,” said Dave Carlow, who worked one of the tents.
The team known as Buttrub.com from Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., won the Kansas City Barbeque Society pro competition’s Grand Champion trophy and winner’s check for $2,500. The team is led by Byron Chism and beat out 59 other pro teams. The Grand Champion team earns a trip to the KCBS’ American Royal championship event, held in Kansas City. The team is also entered into a drawing of eight other Indiana KCBS competition winners to determine a berth in the Jack Daniels Barbeque Championship in Lynchburg, Tenn., to compete and the Indiana champion.
Reserve Grand Champion at Ribberfest went to Steve Creech’s ZZ-Que of Columbus, Ind. His second-place team collected $1,500. The top 10 teams in each cooking category also won cash prizes.
This year’s festival did not include hot air balloons for the first time but added boat excursion rides and a 5K walk and run on Saturday morning.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-5490 or email: info@RoundAbout.bz.


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