8th Greencastle Music Festival crowd reported in 3,000 range

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Addressing the crowd from the festival stage before the Louisville Crashers perform Saturday, festival creator Gail Smith is interviewed by emcee Eric Michaels, a Terre Haute disc jockey.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

While the monumental solar eclipse may have been all the rage five days earlier, it was a stellar Saturday emerging as the shining star for the eighth annual Greencastle Music Festival.

“The moon and the stars aligned,” festival creator and organizer Gail Smith said of an event that drew an estimated 3,000 people to the Putnam County Courthouse Square Saturday. “The weather was fabulous.”

Like the weather, the music was great and the crowd large, responsive and responsible on a mild 75-degree August evening.

“I don’t know how we can top it,” Smith told the Banner Graphic, adding that “the momentum here is so great right now.”

While the perfect storm of great weather, good music and downtown momentum helped eclipse the turnout of the seven previous festivals, this was the first year organizers got an accurate count since a $5 admission charge was instituted for 2017.

Ticket sales totaled $10,930 (with half the proceeds being donated to Main Street Greencastle to help further programs like First Friday). That means 2,186 paid admissions plus an estimated 300 children admitted free, and another 300 workers and volunteers to run the festival. Throw in a few folks who managed to avoid paying the gate admission, and that’s pretty close to 3,000.

Smith displayed a drone-snapped overhead photo of the festival crowd. It shows the north and east sides of the square jammed with people and the courthouse lawn packed with folks in lawnchairs.

The turnout impressed the artists as well.

Mark Maxwell, the Energizer Bunny of a lead singer for the headlining Louisville Crashers, gave Smith rave reviews for the local crowd.

“He said, ‘We play Southern Indiana and all over Louisville for some really big crowds,’” Smith said, relating Maxwell’s remarks, “but we just love coming to Greencastle. You’ve got the best spirited people here.’”

And near the end of the show Saturday night, Maxwell even expressed his desire to return next year for a fourth straight year headlining the Music Festival.

Meanwhile, singer/songwriter Don Von Tress, a Greencastle native who sang the mega-hit “Achy Breaky Heart” that he wrote 25 years ago, was also awed by the audience in his hometown.

“I didn’t know there were that many people in Greencastle,” he said. “The whole thing was just so great, there wasn’t a bad moment all night.

“What a neat thing,” he added. “Boy, what a great thing you’ve got going on the square. Everybody has to feel good about that.”

In singing “Achy Breaky Heart” accompanied by the Crashers, Von Tress was impressed by the six-man Louisville group, calling them “top-notch musicians.”

“I’ve got to call Mark (Maxwell) today,” he said Tuesday, “and thank him for letting me crash his party.”

Von Tress also said he ran into six or seven people he went to school with in Greencastle, and had no idea he would see his cousin’s daughter show up out of the blue as well.

“It was a little bit emotional for me,” he admitted. “Kind of a full-circle moment. It never occurred to me, I‘d feel that way.

“It was off the scales, so thanks to everybody. That did my heart good.”

So it’s achy-breaky no more?

Smith was also impressed by Von Tress’ appreciation for being a part of the program.

“I was thanking him,” she said, “and he was thanking me.”

At this point, Smith admittedly isn’t sure there will be a next year for the Music Festival which obviously requires an enormous amount of planning and background work to pull off.

After the show, when all the smiling faces have left the square, there’s not only the obvious mountain of trash to deal with but this year the stage had to be disassembled so the rental company could pick it up, while another rental firm was on the square about 30 minutes after the Crashers left the stage to pick up all the tables and chairs Smith had rented.

She and son Brian Carrington, who Smith says she could never put on the festival or even First Friday without, were still downtown about 3 a.m.

An exhausting end to a day that started for them about 6 a.m.

“I still don’t have everything put away,” Smith confided.

Von Tress even marveled at all the work they did in the name of community spirit.

“I drove up the next morning and there’s Gail out there hosing down the sidewalk,” he said.

Smith nodded in acknowledgment to note, “and the first person I saw the next morning was (Mayor) Bill Dory.”

It’s too soon to decide whether or not to do it again next year, the festival creator said.

“We have to give it some thoughtful consideration,” Smith said of planning a ninth annual Greencastle Music Festival. “I just don’t feel we can top it. And it’s such an enormous amount of work. Brian said to me Saturday, ‘We are not doing this again, Mom.’’’

Being exhausted makes it difficult to even talk about, she admitted.

“I think we just need to relish our successes and not think about next year.”

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  • Where does the other half of the admission go to??? Almost Home?

    -- Posted by canttakeitanymore on Wed, Aug 30, 2017, at 9:52 AM
  • We had a Woderful time. Thank you to All.

    #dirtypolitics, if it does go to Almost Home, they deserve it !.

    Gail, is the person that has brought Life to this town, fun for all ages on weekends. I know for a fact, that putting events together is hard work. If she puts it towards her business then great, but, I do believe it went towards the event itself, if it wasn't for her, Anderson Concrete & Yorks this would never have happened.

    Huge, Warm, smiling thank you to those..

    -- Posted by kids03 on Wed, Aug 30, 2017, at 6:07 PM
  • Just wondering as im sure she receives sponsorship monies. Not sure as to whether she has single handedly brought life to greencastle by stuffing her own pockets but thats only my opinion. So im neither right or wrong. There are many factors that has brought life to greencastle. Why not bring life to putnam county, why just greencastle. Some people are only perfect on the surface. Let the debate begin....

    -- Posted by canttakeitanymore on Thu, Aug 31, 2017, at 7:48 AM
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