Endeavor News

Music festival’s popularity growing

Jeff Burnett of the Vinegar Creek Constituency.

Jeff Burnett of the Vinegar Creek Constituency.

It’s becoming obvious that the Dam Show, a festival of music and art with a heavy dose of summertime relaxation thrown in for good measure, is here to stay.

This year’s seventh annual show at the Austin Dam Memorial Park drew the biggest turnout ever, despite heavy thunderstorms on Friday night and some annoying rain on Saturday.

Now the challenge for the major sponsors, the Potter County Fine Arts Council and the Austin Dam Memorial Association, is to reckon with the success and address some of the organizational glitches that emerge during each year’s running.

Based on comments they heard this year and attendance trends, they’re anticipating that the festival is going to continue to grow, creating the need for additional volunteers and more hands-on management.

Outside of the weather, there wasn’t much in the way of trouble this year. Park visitors dodged the mud or resigned themselves to it, many of them decked out in tie-dyed shirts reminiscent of Woodstock.

The grounds at the Dam Show are expansive, giving children plenty of room to run and play or refine their skills at hula hoop.

The grounds at the Dam Show are expansive, giving children plenty of room to run and play or refine their skills at hula hoop.

This year’s show even turned a small profit. That’s not necessarily a goal, since the celebration of music and art has its own inherent value as well as a ripple effect on area businesses, but both of the sponsors are cash-starved and could ill afford a monetary drain.

Supplementing revenue from the modest ticket prices with small fees for parking and camping was a key factor in avoiding red ink.

red ink.

The setting made a positive impression on the nationally known musicians who entertained, including the Virginia-based Larry Keel and Natural Bridge as well as the show-stopping women’s quartet from Los Angeles, Moira Smiley and VOCO.

Their comments from the stage were a reminder to many locals in the crowd that the ruins of the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company dam, which split apart in 1911, are an impressive site and they create a festival setting unlike any other in the world.

Two of the performers, the Skiffle Minstrels and Jakob’s Hollow, included songs about the 1911 Austin flood in their repertoire, drawing an especially enthusiastic response from an audience spread out across the park in lawn chairs, tents and blankets.

Among additions to this year’s schedule were family oriented stream studies conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and well received by the participants.

“It was the best attendance and the worst weather in the seven-year history of the show,” said the Dam Show originator and musical director, Arthur Metzger. “We received reports that campgrounds, motels and lodges all had customers who came for the Dam Show and many who were attending for the first time said they’ll defi- nitely be back next year.”

The 2010 show will likely be a stepping stone to a major event in 2011, coinciding with the centennial of the Austin flood.

Metzger expressed appreciation to the many people whose efforts made the show a success, including Tracie Gordnier and family as well as other members of the Austin Dam Memorial Association; volunteer electrician John Rotello; stage manager Jeff Kazimer and assistant Cindy Capatch; sound engineer Tom Shaffer; sponsors who purchased ads in the program; ticket-takers, parking attendants and others helping out on the grounds, Jim Elwell and the Trailblazers; the Williams Company and many others.

“It’s a team effort that keeps the Dam Show growing, with so many people rolling up their sleeves and pitching in as volunteers,” Metzger said. “Without them, there would be no Dam Show and we cannot thank them enough.”

Planning is already underway for Dam Show VIII in 2010.

“We can clearly see that there is a growing group of Dam Show supporters and fans who will be returning next year and will be telling their friends about it,” Metzger pointed out. “It was especially gratifying to see so many families with small children attending. We’ll bear that in mind as we piece together the schedules for future shows.”

More photos from the event are on the back page.

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