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Madison stage

Madison mayor weighs options
on buying a riverfront stage

He says portable stage
has merits over a permanent one

By Don Ward
Editor

(April 2006) – A new stage for the riverfront is being sought for the future Madison Centennial Park, to be built in time for the city’s bicentennial in 2008.

Century Industries Built Stage

Photo provided

The Century Industries-built stage
can be rolled up hydraulically and
transported via a truck trailer.

Tourism director Linda Lytle has been meeting with Madison Mayor Al Huntington and city special projects administrator Betsey Vonderheide on options for either a permanent shell stage or a mobile stage that could be transported to various locations on demand.
Lytle said the three have sought input from others in town who lead special events.
In a recent interview, Huntington said he had not yet decided on which way to go, but in late March Vonderheide said “he is leaning toward the mobile stage because of the versatility it offers us.”
Ratio Architects Inc., which produced the initial design for the park, had planned for a permanent stage to be erected on a hard pad made of aggregate and located in the southeast corner of the site, situated between Central and Poplar streets along Vaughn Drive. But Lytle said that location would have performers facing into the afternoon sun, and that the Madison Ribberfest prefers placing its stage in the southwest corner to avoid the problem.
Huntington also worries about flooding in the area should a permanent shell-covered stage be built there.
“I don’t want to build a pad and then buy a stage and find out later that it doesn’t fit,” Huntington said. “We want to do the right thing because this is an important project.”
Huntington believes the mobile stage would be useful for riverfront events as well as events held elsewhere in town, such as the summer concert event at John Paul Park.
“Renting a stage costs so much that we believe it would be better for us in the long run to buy a stage,” Vonderheide said. “We may even be able to rent it out to other groups in the county for special events.”
Huntington is close to deciding on purchasing a 36-foot mobile stage manufactured by Century Industries in Sellersburg. The stage sells for just over $100,000. It folds up into a large truck and can be easily set up by one person via hydraulics, said company salesperson Michelle McRae. She has met with Madison city officials to explain the benefits of the product, which the 25-year-old company has sold worldwide.
“We have sold stages to schools, military bases and many cities and towns,” McRae said. “They are quite popular, very versatile and easy to use.”
The stage can be expanded in size with the addition of portable risers.
A new stage is not expected to be in place in time for the new Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in May, but one should be available in time for the Madison Ribberfest in August, Vonder-heide said.
The Ribberfest Committee recently donated $10,000 toward the stage from its profits.
The city must rent a stage for the Folk Festival at a cost of nearly $3,000, Lytle said. The Ribberfest has paid as much as $3,500 to rent a stage in previous years.
Lytle said she favors the mobile stage and expects a final decision to be made soon.

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