When Jan Vetrhus volunteered
in summer 2007 to join the Madison Bicentennial planning committee, she
never dreamed she would eventually wind up in charge. But the election
of a new mayor that November ushered in a new administration, and thus,
new leadership was needed to see the $330,000 project through.
Vetrhus, 57, an Albuquerque, N.M., native who retired in 2007 from a 27-year
career as a quality engineer at Cummins Engine Co. Inc., has lived in
Madison for the past 16 years. She serves on the board of Historic Madison
Inc. and volunteers as a house museum docent. She also had the experience
in 1994 of planning Cummins Engines 75th anniversary of the Holset
Engineering division. So her selection as chairwoman seemed a natural.
But there has been nothing natural
about Vetrhus experience so far in planning what will likely be
the biggest celebration to ever hit the historic river town come June
2009. It has been a role without precedent, she says, as she forges new
ground in planning a once-in-a-lifetime event.
She says she is pleased with the number of people who have volunteered
their time and ideas to plan the Bicentennial. And contributions are still
coming in the pay for the party, plus create a $250,000 fund to establish
some type of legacy long after the party has ended.
We have so much going on that it is likely not all the things we
are planning will actually happen, but I would say that most of them will,
said Vetrhus. The initial idea was not to make money off the event
but to have enough left over for the legacy gift to the city.
For a year now, Vetrhus has been directing the
monthly planning meeting at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library
that is open to the public. She also appears regularly on local radio
stations and is quoted in the news media on her committees progress.
At the recent meeting held Nov. 24, a large group of committee members
met to present updates on their efforts and to view the newly redesigned
Madison Bicentennial website www.MadisonBicentennial.com created
by local graphic designer Joe Lackner. The site is designed to keep the
public informed on the long list of Bicentennial year events that will
be taking place, beginning in January. The most significant events, however,
are being planned for Old Home Week, a 200-hour party being
planned June 6-14. That week will include concerts, lighted boat parade,
community picnic at Clifty Falls State Park, film festival, historic trades
fair and laser light show with fireworks, Arts Day on the
riverfront, as well as many other events. Many of the arts and sports
events will be hands-on and participatory.
We want to make sure people talk with their family and friends during
the holidays to invite them to join us for the celebration in 2009,
Reunions of all kinds are encouraged. The Bicentennial Committee envisions
that families, school classes, businesses and organizations will want
to plan reunions or special happenings during the Bicentennial year.
Vetrhus said the planning committee has a good mix of folks
from the community and all different ages. My goal is that anybody
will have an opportunity to participate and that we will have something
for all interests at the Bicentennial.
Among the unique plans are to have an operational passenger train running
between Madison and Dupont. The train car has been purchased and is being
renovated at the Jefferson Proving Ground by the Madison Railroad, which
will operate it. The idea is that this train would continue to operate
seasonally well beyond the Bicentennial, Vetrhus said.
Also, an original musical is being written for the occasion and will be
presented in October 2009 at the Madison Consolidated High School auditorium.
Vetrhus said she hopes other new events, such as the lighted boat parade
and the film festival, can become annual permanent events.
a brief look at the latest news:
Christmas gifts: A Madison Bicentennial limited-edition
clear glass Christmas ornament went on sale Dec. 1 for $14.98. Also available
for sale is a woven afghan, pewter-look lapel pin, collapsible fabric
shopping bag that folds to pocket size and dry-erase board. All carry
the Bicentennial logo designed by Madisons Troy Seel. These items
are available at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center gift shop and at many
Talent Show. The first in a series of talent shows
will take place Jan. 6, with the winners competing for a chance to perform
as the opening act at the Laser Light Show in June.
Madison on the Ohio: Camille Fife and Ron
Grimes have been collecting photographs and writing copy for the official
Bicentennial history publication, Madison on the Ohio: Remembering
Two Hundred Years. The book itself, underwritten by The Madison
Courier, will be published in summer 2009. Those who want to order the
book for Christmas giving this year will be able to do so and
take advantage of the pre-publication price of $24.95 plus tax. The book
can be shipped directly for an additional $10. Sales will be handled through
The Madison Courier, 310 Courier Square, or on the website: www.madisoncourier.com.
Photography contest deadline nearing: RoundAbout Madison
is sponsoring a Bicentennial photography contest for images that celebrate
the beauty of Madison. There will be cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50
for the top three photos. Information and entry forms can be picked up
at 314 Jefferson St. or downloaded from www.RoundAboutMadison.com. The
deadline for entries is Dec. 31.
Ring in the new year: On New Years Day, Madison
residents are asked to ring in the Bicentennial year by sounding bells
of all kinds at exactly noon. Madisons historic church bells will
peal and residents are invited to step outside their homes with their
own bells to join in.
Reunion planning: People planning reunions or other
events are invited to send information to Laura Hodges, Madison Bicentennial
publicity director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on the
The Madison Bicentennial parade float made its debut
last summer at the Madison Regatta parade. Vetrhus announced it will appear
in four upcoming parades: the Madison Christmas parade on Dec. 6; Opening
Day parade in April for the Reds baseball season in Cincinnati;
the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade in May in Louisville; and the Indy 500
parade in May.
We have a lot going on, but all in all, Id say we are on track,
Vetrhus said. We have many activities planned, but my biggest concern
is that we have something for everybody.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.