The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 3, 2012

Aug. 4, 2012 Letters to the editor: Jason “Spaceman Floyd” Williams

Letters to the editor

—  While shuffling through The Star Beacon’s recently archived, online stories, I noticed one glaring omission in reporting—Madison Village’s cancellation of the Old Fashioned Days (OFD) festival after 50 years.

 There is an importance when writing about a historical building’s new slate roof, another coyote sighting, and a compulsive Conneaut speeder, but to not cover the pointless expiration date of a local festival, especially with 50 years behind it, is quite an oversight.

 There is, I feel, a much larger story here when one looks at the context surrounding NE Ohio. The Village has had a 90+% failure rate for new businesses in the last two years; all Ohio cities (excluding Columbus) are losing population; and what are good strategies small cities can develop to grow their areas, particularly at the tail-bone end of The Great Recession.

 Imagine if rumors circulated that the organizers of Geneva’s Grape Jamboree decided to throw in the towel because they were tired. This would be front page news and there would certainly be a loud social protest over it.

 Group exhaustion and chronic tiredness are the reasons that the OFD festival is ending. I doubt, really, that the current organizers and volunteers for the OFD have been doing the heavy-lifting of the activities for all 50 years. There must have been several moments where one group, when worn-out, would apprentice another group. Probably many moments of an almost generational-inheritance. That’s how it should be.

 Cleveland Heights cancelled their street fair two years ago because of hundreds of unruly youth. The same problem plagued the East 185th festival. There isn’t this problem in Madison Village.

 Most cities understand the importance of a small-town festival, and the value of business block festivals and events. It brings in thousands of people, thousands of dollars, and, most importantly, it brings in prospective home buyers (which, residually, brings in more money).

 These local festivals serve as a vital social gathering point for the near-by residents, and they are also a point of migration for former neighbors to come back.

 Short of proposing a free-range, wild boar farm near West Main Street or constructing an Amazonian cannibal apartment complex near Homer Nash school, canceling OFD is the most destructive move the Village can make.

 Find motivated replacements to help continue the festival; revise and edit what works and what doesn’t; open the discussion for volunteers beyond the walls of Village Hall. Talk with young adults and teenagers.

 There are dozens of financially struggling business districts throughout NE Ohio (Larchmere Blvd and Waterloo region, etc) that would love to have a festival with 50 years behind it.

Jason “Spaceman Floyd” Williams