• Last modified 2841 days ago (June 8, 2011)


Chingawassa rocks Marion

Staff writer

Chingawassa Days Committee members knew something was bound to go wrong eventually for the annual festival Friday and Saturday in Marion because too much had already gone right.

Mike Powers, committee chairman, was astounded at how smoothly the planning of the event went weeks before the scheduled festival. Usually, there are a series of small crises to smooth out before the festival. However, all the committee members were prepared for their events this year.

Last year, a band did not show up on Friday. This year, the experiment of two tribute bands worked better than expected. A larger than normal Friday crowd appreciated both Edge of Forever, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, and Hells/Bells, an AC/DC tribute group.

“We probably would have just gone with one, but those two bands frequently perform together,” Powers said. “Artistically, things really seemed to go smoothly.”

Without the oppressive temperatures experienced last year, Central Park was host to many people throughout the day, Saturday. The inclusion of child-friendly fun like a petting zoo, inflatable slides, and events that anyone could participate in helped keep a crowd in the park throughout the day.

“We don’t care if you’re 80 or 8 you can do them,” Powers said of events like heads or tails; rock, paper, scissors; and minute to win it competitions.

One mix up did arise before the concert started. When Diamond Rio arrived Saturday morning, the band saw that they were without a drum riser. They were upset because it was a part of their agreement with the stage and light company.

To fix the problem, Chingawassa Days committee member Davey Hett gathered tools and materials from his shop in Marion and constructed a drum riser behind the stage Saturday afternoon. A construction professional, Hett created the wood box in less than an hour and Powers overheard band representatives praise its sturdy construction.

“It was one of these moments of triumph,” Powers said.

People filled the park until a mainly cloudless day mysteriously developed into a strong storm complete with hail. Powers said he is 100 percent sure the rain kept many local concertgoers from walking up to buy tickets Saturday evening. Even though there was no rain during the concert, there were fewer people, about 1,900, in the park for Diamond Rio than there were for 38 Special last year.

Still, Powers said this year’s Chingawassa festival was largely successful, a feat he hopes to replicate next year.

The community church service was taken to another level with the addition of guest preacher and former Kansas University basketball star Wayne Simien Jr., Powers said.

Powers appreciated the support from businesses.

“It’s something that makes life in a town more pleasant,” Powers said of Chingawassa Days. “I get a lot of nice comments about how it’s great that a small town can do something like this.”

Last modified June 8, 2011