2008 Madison Chautauqua

Iowa couple earns
this year’s ‘Best of Show’

Crowds large, but sales
not as strong, vendors report

By Don Ward

(October 2008) – Tourists and residents alike flocked to the riverfront Sept. 27-28 to enjoy the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. But while they shopped and enjoyed food and free musical entertainment, the exhibitors were being judged by members of the festival committee.

2008 Madison Chautauqu Guide Cover

2008 Madison
Guide Cover

When the verdict was in, Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong joined Chautauqua coordinator Georgie Kelly and other committee members in presenting this year’s Best of Show Award to Liz and Rich Robertson of Asbury, Iowa. The couple makes pottery and their talents wowed the judges for the award, sponsored by Artful Living Co.
Kathleen Green, an oil painter from Groveport, Ohio, made her annual appearance among the nominees and this year collected First Place in Fine Art. She is a past two-time winner and has placed at least two other years in that category.
Second Place went to Jamie Rehfield of Richland, Mich. Joan Schulte, an artist from Louisville, Ky., took Third Place. This was her first time at the show, since she only began doing shows this year.
Jerry and Sandra Wallin of Wallin Forge in Vevay, Ind., earned First Place in the Crafts category. They are well known among locals for their forged iron work and historical tinsmithing. They operate at a studio in Vevay.
Second Place went to Amber Poole, a potter from Tecumseh, Okla. Her family has been in the show for the past 10 years. Her father, Don Poole, started the stoneware pottery business, and when he died three years ago, his daughter took it over. She has been nominated for the award in past years and Don has won it.
Third Place in Crafts went to Kenneth Schneider of Maineville, Ohio. He creates wooden toys.
The award for the Best Presentation went to Ward Siegler, a jewelry maker from Genoa City, Wisc.

2008 Chautauqua Winners

Photo by Don Ward

The winning exhibitors and festival officials at this year’s show are (front row from left) Merry Fourhman, committee; Joan Schulte, Third in Fine Art; Liz Robertson, Best of Show; Kathleen Green, First in Fine Art; Jame Rehfeld, Second in Fine Art; Julie Swartz, committee; (back row from left) Georgie Kelly, festival coordinator; Amber Poole, Second in Craft; Ward Siegler, Best Presentation; Kenneth Schneider, Third in Craft; Jerry Wallin, First in Craft; Mickey Swartz, committee; and Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong.

This year’s show had about 30 fewer exhibitors than usual, reported Kelly, with only 250, as opposed to the usual 280. But the weather cooperated to produce a large crowd both days. The Delta Queen steamboat pulled into town on Sunday with a TV news crew from ABC’s “Good Morning America” on board. The crew shot footage of the Madison Chautauqua as part of a story it is doing on the Delta Queen, which could be on its last season.
Despite the crowds, many vendors reported that their sales were slightly less than in recent years, perhaps due to the economy. But the streets and stores and restaurants on Main Street were booming.
Kelly reported to the Madison tourism board that $12,475 had been raised in sponsorships. She also reported a newly designed website at www.MadisonChautauqua.com. Kelly also told the board an economic impact study of the festival was being conducted this year by studying the difference in bank deposits by local businesses at River Valley Financial Bank.
“The last time we did this several years ago, we saw an increase of 63 percent in bank deposits between the weeks before and after the show,” Kelly said.
No official crowd estimate has been conducted but Kelly said her committee estimates attendance at around 70,000 over the two days. That estimate stems from a street count conducted back in 2002, she added.
The Chautauqua committee is planning on sponsoring a gift to the city for next year when Madison will be celebrating its Bicentennial. A wall mural is being planned, and Kelly said it may go up on the side of Rogers Corner restaurant on Main and West streets. The committee is searching for artists to take part in creating this unique design. The theme is the history of Madison from 1909-2009. Anyone interested should contact Bill Borden at (812) 866-5793.

• For more information, call (812) 265-2956 or visit: www.MadisonChautauqua.com.


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