Madisons festival guru
Jeff Garrett is about to pull off another community wide production. The
man who brought you the Madison Ribberfest and the chambers Soup,
Stew Chili & Brew is now going for a hat trick by staging yet another
event designed to bring a whole new category of music and entertainment
fans to the riverfront.
Over the past few months, hes gathered his loyal crew of volunteers
from Ribberfest and elsewhere to devise a plan that will help fill a festival
scheduling void in Madisons spring calendar. The group has targeted
May 20-21, 2006, as the date for the inaugural Ohio River Valley Folk
Festival. And if it goes anything like Garretts previous creations,
this one will likely become just as successful as the others.
Garretts group of festival soldiers began meeting in January to
bounce around ideas and are busy planning a new festival for next year
that will take place in the spring and invite a whole new category of
visitors to gather on the riverfront. They hope to attract a wide range
of folk talent, including a headliner act for Saturday night.
In addition to music, the event would include food, crafts, storytellers,
historical speakers and activities to celebrate the areas river
by Don Ward
Garrett is up to his old tricks again by creating a third festival
We hope to be able to afford to bring in
an act that is well known name in the folk music industry, said
Garrett. Were very happy with the turnout at the meetings,
and more and more people are coming all the time. We want this to be something
different for Madison.
Garrett also serves as executive director of the Madison Area Chamber
of Commerce, but his involvement in planning this new event is separate
from his duties with the chamber.
With the new focus on traditional, Celtic and folk-related activities,
entertainment and events, many new faces are appearing at the meetings.
Some who live in the region have long been part of folk festivals as far
away as Florida.
For instance, Stasia Wiseman of Vevay, Ind., has attended and performed
in many such events throughout the country. Others in outlying areas have
been contacted about their expertise and knowledge of planning such an
Garrett says he is hoping to tap into this talent and energy to pull off
yet another successful tourism event that could someday grow on par with
Garrett pitched the idea to the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
board at its March meeting, and the board voted to oversee the project
and serve as its financial and non-profit umbrella organization.
I think its great, and I hope the community will support it
like they do our other events, said Linda Lytle, the tourism offices
executive director. She has been attending the folk festival meetings
It would be nice to have an event to help us kick off the season
at that time of the year, and Jeff seems to have done a lot of research
to show theres a market out there for this type of festival.
Garrett is now determining a budget needed to stage the event and hire
the talent to perform there. He already has the backing of the Rivers
Institute at Hanover College, which has signed on to be a partner and
provide financial assistance. Other companies are being contacted about
At the groups April 27 meeting, committees were formed and committee
heads named, Garrett said. But more volunteers are needed. Anyone wishing
to become involved may attend future meetings, which are scheduled for
5 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Venture Out Business
Center, 975 Industrial Dr., Madison. For questions, call Garrett at (812)
265-3135, ext. 255.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.