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s the dark side of the moon begins overshadowing my newspaper career, that is, the asteroid of retirement blocking out the sunshine on my life’s work, I begin thinking of things that were.
I remember hiring a bunch of local shock-eyed ruffians who had formed a band. (I have a cassette tape that they recorded and tried to sell, somewhere in my basement along with similar treasures). I hired them to play on the second stage at one of the waning days of the old Marigold Day.
The band was nearly terrible in relation to the quality of music, but fantastic in their enthusiasm and in entertaining their family and friends and some, but not all, festivities.
When I realized they drew a bigger crowd than the main stage I knew I was in for trouble from the long-term dominance of country and gospel music conservatives.
The local boys I hired had a style of music more like the non-spinning wheels of a train upon a track with a bit of screaming and garage band noise. You don’t have to love the result but many of us love the sound a Salvador Dali picture makes just for the sake of the art.
Though I picked up the $300 price tag of the performance and though the crowd of fans enjoyed the show, the Marigold committee pronounced that they did not want that kind of thing at their Marigold Day again.
I have run across the, “if we don’t like it then no one should like it,” attitude many times over the years.
When it comes to festivals and events I believe in being as diverse as possible. I believe in trying to find something for everyone. Get as many people to the festival site as possible and let them choose which venue they want to participate in. Festival success comes in numbers. The number of people that attend will influence the number of vendors and events and those in turn will influence the number of people attending.
Take this information, grasshopper, and go forth and make a festival.
I was told by one of the conservative old-day Marigold festival people that I could not do such things as bring evil rock and roll to town because I was an outsider. It just would not be tolerated.
But here I am today, nearing the big brick wall of life going 100 miles an hour in my Chevette body, having survived being an outsider for a quarter of a century. The local garage band has grown up and left me filling in festival voids with $25 weddings, sandwich contests, paper airplane flying contests, historical re-enactments, jugglers, standup comedians, special needs art shows and other such things all for the continued entertainment of the local masses.
Thank you to those who have noticed, especially to those festival brides and grooms who added a dimension of accomplishment to my resume of festival hits, misses and disasters.
But I’m not done yet.
And, here’s a kicker. I have been amazed and awed that I have discovered other communities stealing my ideas for their festivals. I, in turn, would steal their ideas if they hadn’t already had been my idea to start with.
“Where did you get that idea?” I asked a festival person in Grayson County.
“I got it from a festival in Williamstown,” they said.
“That was my idea,” I said.
“Everyone thought it was a stupid idea,” they said. “And, look at the crowd.”
I replied, “You should have picked one of my ideas that worked!”
(Ken Stone is publisher of the Grant County News. He can be reached at 859-824-3343 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)