‘Who Fest’ Brings Folk Art and Bluegrass to Coolidge Park

Here’s the latest news from the ‘Who Fest’ blog:

Big news from Chattanooga. After five years at Renaissance Park, Who-Fest has tentative approval from the City of Chattanooga to move to Coolidge Park for 2012. For those who don’t live here, Coolidge Park is the most popular park in Chattanooga. We will also be moving the date back from Memorial Day Weekend to the middle of May.

As with any major changes, there is a lot to consider (lots of pros and cons). We consulted a number of officials and artists before making the change. All involved unanimously agreed this move will be a big step up for the festival.

So what are the pros and cons?

Pros
1) More exposure. As mentioned before, Coolidge is the most popular park in Chattanooga, daily attendance in the summer numbers in the thousands. The park sits directly between the Walnut St and Market St Bridge, directly on the Tennessee River. The Carousel, the Fountain and the Delta Queen make up the “corners” of the park.

2) Earlier date. This was done for a number of reasons. First, we are gambling on somewhat cooler weather (the record high 96 on Sunday was a festival killer this year) Another bonus about Coolidge Park are the taller and more numerous trees create a lot more shade. Second, with the popularity of Coolidge Park for hosting events, it was the best weekend available for April or May. Third, less competition than Memorial Day Weekend (there are a number of major events in the Chattanooga area that weekend). Fourth, better media exposure (more about that in the coming weeks).

3) Fixed Stage. Coolidge Park has permanent stage. This will be great for focusing all our music into one area.

4) More fun for the family. As mentioned above, Coolidge Park has a large fountain that kids can play in and a wonderful 100 year old Carousel.

5) Free Electric Shuttle. Carta has a free shuttle that runs from the Tennessee Aquarium to the NorthShore and right by Coolidge Park.

Cons
1) Less “funky”. Along with the step up in moving to Coolidge Park, the “professionalism” of the show will step up too. Renaissance Park was a self-contained park and allowed us to have a little more of a party atmosphere, Coolidge has a few more rules, but don’t worry, we have some great plans to make sure it is still fun for the artists. Who-Fest might be “growing up” a little bit, but that doesn’t mean we are “growing old” (aka boring).

2) Cost. Coolidge Park costs 3x as much to rent at Renaissance (it is so popular, there is a waiting list for events to be scheduled there). Also, with the higher traffic volume (including into the night), we will have to employee quite a bit more security. However, we have done a preliminary budget and we promise that the booth fee will not be increased by more than $30. This is the first time since Who-Fest was moved to Chattanooga that we have increased the entry fee. We work very hard to keep the fees as low as possible.

3) Load In/Out. The best thing about Renaissance was the ability for artists to pull right up to there booth to unload. Unfortunately that is not possible at Coolidge Park. However, the way we have proposed to set up the event will at Coolidge, most of the booths will be within 50 feet of the main road next to the park. We are also working to rent some “Gators” (think: big golf carts with loading beds) and will have extra volunteers to help the artists load and unload. This was one of our biggest concerns (after rental costs), but we feel we will have a great plan of action to make load in/out as easy as possible for the artists.

So, that’s all we have right now. Over the next two months we should have some other major announcements that will help ensure that Who-Fest [12] will be the best Who-Fest ever!

New Binkley Brothers

With almost 70 artists and 7 bands, this year’s professional, outdoor folk art festival promises to be a blast!     Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore owner David Smotherman has been organizing ‘Who Fest’ since it began in Chattanooga.    Most of these artists have also shown in his gallery at one time or another.    The festival runs from 10-6 PM on Saturday and Sunday.    The Shaking Ray Levi’s will headline musically on Sunday afternoon and the New Binkley Brothers will close out with down-home bluegrass on Saturday.

Here’s more from the press release:

A two-day outdoor celebration of folk, outsider, visionary and self-taught art.

Winder Binder Gallery is proud to present the Who-Fest [12] Folk Art Festival on May 12th and 13th at Coolidge on the NorthShore of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Celebrating it 6th year in Chattanooga, the Festival is produced by Winder Binder Gallery & Bookstore in collaboration with the Who Ha Da Da Artist’ Fellowship and the Shaking Ray Levi Society.

Originally produced in Atlanta, Georgia, Who-Fest moved to Chattanooga in 2007.  The festival normally attracts 70 local, regional and national artists and provides the unique opportunity to meet and purchase directly from artists that specialize in folk, outsider, visionary, and self-taught art.  Fields of study include painting, glass, metalworking, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, furniture, photography and textiles.

After 5 years at Renaissance Park, the festival committee decided to change the venue to the much more visible Coolidge Park.  An earlier date in May was also secured to help avoid the typical Memorial Day Weekend heat.

Festival organizers are also pleased to announce that the music director Tina Torrance, with the support of the Shaking Ray Levi Society, will once again host two days of diverse musical offerings from local performers.  A complete list of performers, and schedule, are available at www.whofest.com

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the Story with ‘Who Fest’ organizer David Smotherman:

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