River Valley Folk Festival
newest festival to celebrate
area's river history, folk traditions
event was conceived by the late Garrett
(May 2006) Jeff Garrett, the man behind the
Madison Ribberfest and other local events, conceived the idea of creating
a new festival to be held sometime in early spring that would celebrate
the areas unique river heritage. He envisioned an event that would
celebrate folk life and introduce folk music to the areas residents.
But when Garrett died on Oct. 30, 2005, the mission fell to others to
carry out the project.
Steve Thomas of Thomas Family Winery and John Walburn, a Hanover, Ind.,
resident, accepted the task of co-chairing the event. The two men, along
with Linda Lytle, executive director of Madisons Convention and
Visitors Bureau, have worked feverishly over the past few months to
finish what Garrett had started.
Thanks to all the hard work and devotion of those involved, plus the
financial backing from several key sponsors, the City of Madison will
present the inaugural Ohio River Valley Folk Festival on May 19-20 along
the riverfront between West and Poplar Streets. The festival celebrates
the beauty of Americana, combining traditional folk music, folk art
and storytelling for fun and education, organizers say.
Marc Gray's Cruisin Auto, based in Madison, is the title
sponsor. Other sponsors include Demaree Automotive Group, Quarry Bluff,
Super 8 Motel, Rivertown Chiropractic and Rivers Institute at Hanover
The festival's music stage will be located at Central Street and Vaughn
Drive, and the "Tall Tales Storytelling Stage" will be located
in the gazebo at Lamplighter Park. Vendors will be located along Vaughn
Drive between West and Poplar. Folk artists will be in the parking lot
between Poplar and Central.
Ohio River Valley Folk Festival Presented by Cruisin' Auto
May 19-20 on the Madison, Ind., rivefront
Featuring: Traditional folk music, storytelling, folk art village,
"Lil' Fols Area," traditional foods, regional breweries
Admission wristbands: $10 through May 10 (includes $5 in food and
beverage coupons). After May 10 and at the gate tickets $10 (no
Tickets available at the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau,
601 W. First St., Madison. (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956.
The River Newts
Walburn said festival organizers choose this particular
time of the year to hold the event because they thought it would balance
out the festival season. Thomas agreed, adding there was a hole to fill
at this particular time, and city officials were supportive of the addition
of another major festival in Madison.
Lytle said her office became the umbrella organization for the festival
because of the positive impact such a project would have on the tourism
industry and the economy of the area. She said that any time people
are drawn to Madison, they come back.
Walburn said festival planners hope the new folk festival will become
self-sustaining, like the highly successful Ribberfest. He said officials
plan to continue to provide top quality acts for a high-quality festival
in order to help tourism and promote our culture and economy. Thomas
said much of the infrastructure and experience with Ribberfest was used
in the development of the Ohio Valley Folk Festival.
Festival organizers said Garrett decided that a festival which celebrated
heritage would only compliment the areas other attractions. Thomas
said Garret thought a folk festival would help update the river heritage
and be a unique way to reflect the areas culture. The highlight
of the festival is an impressive list of some of the best folk musicians
in the nation.
Walburn, who chaired the music committee before becoming the co-chair
with Thomas, said that folk music is simply music of the people. He
said that it has always been a means of communication, a way to tell
stories and relay news. Those messages of historical times then became
ballads and eventually formed the traditional base of folk music. Thomas
added that folk music is just a person with an instrument or a voice
telling a story that can be educational and reflective of culture.
Committee members agreed that a variety of folk musicians, both traditional
and modern, would be needed to round out the festivals program.
There will be performers of traditional folk music as well as contemporary
acts. There will also be musicians who will present original works and
those who will do interpretations of older songs that have been around
for generations. There will be Celtic, French and English heritage tunes,
along with music with southern roots. Most people will be pleasantly
surprised to find they know many of the songs that will be performed
by the different artists at the festival. Walburn said that many people
will be familiar with the local, regional and national performers.
The music committee came up with lots of ideas at the start for the
festival. Working with Walburn were Mark Johnson, a Hanover College
graduate now residing in Indianapolis; Roxy Chapa Kelly of Cincinnati;
and Tony Schroeder of Madison. They looked to their own experiences
with folk music to come up with a list of potential musicians, Walburn
said. They contacted various artists and finally narrowed down the list.
For such a small group, the committee worked up a remarkable lineup
of musical talent for the festival.
In addition to the notable list of musicians at the festival, there
will be an outstanding array of storytellers and folk artists. Walburn
described folk art as things, or crafts, that people learn, such as
pottery and weaving. There will be a variety of folk art craftsman,
including a weaver actually working, and a high quality dulcimer maker.
There will also be an interactive presentation for children by the Hanover
College Rivers Institute that will focus on the heritage of river communities.
It will include activities such as rope knotting and will feature stuffed
animals indigenous to the local environment.
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