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Carrying On

Madison’s folk festival forges
ahead after death of chairman

Walburn’s vision
was inspiration to planners

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(January 2011) – Despite the Nov. 12 death of festival chairman John Walburn, the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival is on track to be another outstanding musical experience in 2011, according to committee members. The May 20-22, 2011, music festival will be the sixth annual event.

Folk Festival Logo

The Folk Festival committee and its parent organization, the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, are committed to continuing the festival, although Walburn’s death cast a temporary pall over preparations.
The committee met just 12 days after Walburn’s death. Instead of a business meeting, members spent time reminiscing about him.
“I think that everyone certainly felt a loss, each of us in our own way,” said committee member Tony Schroeder. “Many were surprised by how much we were touched by John but really how it impacted the whole community.”
When the group met Dec. 14, it was ready to get back to business.
Committee work is actually ahead of where it was a year ago, according to Linda Lytle, executive director of the CVB. Nearly all contracts for the 2011 festival have been negotiated.
A partial music lineup has been announced. Friday night performers will be Mickey Clark, Adrienne Young and a headliner to be announced later.
Saturday’s lineup includes The Tillers, the Wiyos, Paul Thorn and David Bromberg, along with another performer yet to be named.
Sunday’s program, which focuses on regional talent, will include Bill Lancton, the duo of Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett Ziesemer, Hogeye Navvy and Carrie Newcomer.
Lytle said that although she is in no hurry to hire someone to fill Walburn’s position, the job opening may be advertised in January. “Even though the committees are perfectly capable of doing it themselves, we want to have somebody in place about a month before the festival,” said Lytle.
In the past year, working committees had been formed to handle many aspects of the festival. Those committees are doing their jobs now.
“I’m real confident that everything is going along just fine. John had good people in place. I’m confident everything will be done well, and everyone will be pleased,” said Lytle.
Meanwhile, committee members are working to make sure the festival continues in the way Walburn would have wanted.
“John always had bigger visions for this festival and saw it as ‘the Midwest’s favorite Americana music festival,’ which is now our brand line,” said Scott Murray Bate of the Folk Festival committee. “Ultimately, he would have liked to see it as a weeklong event. He compared it to Telluride and other festivals and saw no obstacles to it going in that direction. We have the people in place who can make that happen.”

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