8 Sep 2011

BSAF committee works hard to keep festival alive

Author: Zach Knapp | Filed under: Black Swamp Arts Festival, Student Contributor

by Zach Knapp

Vendor at the Festival in 2010; Image used with permission by Michelle Ward


The final meeting for the Black Swamp Arts Festival Committee slowly came to a start as the members made their way into the room. Many committee members still wore uniforms from their day jobs, and others scrambled to get their children seated. It was not an affair among business affiliates, but close friends who have known each other and been responsible for putting on the festival since 1993.

One of the founding members of the festival, Floyd Craft, remembers the origins of the festival coming from a small group of peoples’ pure ambition to create something special. It took years of planning and financing before the festival was able to happen.  “We wanted to put together the festival probably ten years before we actually had the capability to make it happen,” Craft said.

From the onset, the festival had its share of financial trouble. The festival was hurt by consistent rain fall, in its first year, costing the committee over $10,000. However, in situations like this the “community steps forward” and does what it can to help, according to Craft. The festival remains alive due to contributions by the community, but with the big loss of two major sponsors last year, the committee members know that they have to take an active role in keeping the festival going each year.

Prior to the festivals start, Marketing and Public Relations committee member, Matt Karlovec said  that 5,000 coasters were sent out to every establishment that sells alcohol to promote the festival. Even small marketing ventures have been responsible for positive funding for the festival. Performing Arts committee member, Kelly Wicks, announced that button sales alone have raised over $2,000 in the few weeks that they have been sold (a figure that he believes should raise to around $3,000 to $5,000 by the end of the festival).

Other problems, unrelated to finances, had to be addressed by the committee to ensure the festival will be smoothly ran. Vice Chair committee member, Rick Schmidt, acknowledged a new ordinance that ensured a practical expression of peoples right to free speech. Schmidt said, “Last year got out of control,” with all of the protesting that was taking away from the festivals original intent to celebrate the community, art and music. However, Schmidt knew the committee had to go about limiting the input of these protestors legally, and successfully obtained an ordinance, which limits protesting to a designated “free speech section.”

The festival will begin on Sept. 9th and conclude on Sept. 11th. To learn more about the Black Swamp Arts Festival and its schedule for 2011, visit www.blackswamparts.org.

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