Cape's downtown music festival shrinks

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The City of Roses Festival has lived to see its eighth year in Cape Girardeau. But to continue as planned on Sept. 24 and 25, it is being scaled down because of organizational problems faced by the Music Heritage Association, which sponsors the music festival.

"We just didn't have anybody who wanted to take the bull by the horns," said Doc Cain, association member and chairman of last year's festival. According to Cain, some of the people who have helped to organize the festival in the past have decided not to continue this year.

"It's been difficult to get someone to head the festival," he said. "This year when we started talking about the music festival it came down to two people -- me and Don Greenwood."

Cain and Greenwood, this year's festival chairmen, announced plans for the festival at a Wednesday night meeting at Port Cape.

One of the biggest changes involves getting rid of the main stage and not hiring a featured performer. Instead, this year's festival will focus on local and regional bands, who will play on three outdoor stages placed at the corners of Water and Independence streets, Water Street and Broadway, and Water and Themis streets.

Another change puts downtown clubs in charge of booking their own entertainment. The clubs will not have to pay a fee to participate, unlike years past.

There will also be no corporate sponsorship of this year's festival and no form of ticket sales. Instead, donations will be requested near each of the stages.

"We sat down and looked at the problems we've had in years past and eliminated them one by one," Greenwood said of the planning for this year's festival.

That meant getting rid of the barge on the Mississippi River that served as the main stage for the last two festivals. The barge cost $11,000 to outfit with sound and lighting equipment, Cain said.

Another sore point has been the relationships between bands and the clubs where they've performed.

"The clubs are unhappy with the bands and the bands are unhappy with the clubs, it's a nightmare," Cain said. "It's always been a problem."

This year, clubs that would like to participate in the festival will be in charge of getting their own entertainment and asked not to charge a cover.

"There's no other way to do it other than what Doc said," said Bob Camp, who served as chairman for the first festival in 1997.

The success of previous festivals has been mixed. Last year, the association lost about $3,000, probably due to poor weather conditions, Cain said.

In 2002, however, the festival brought in about $4,000 and in 2001 it broke even.

Cain said he believes this year's festival could bring in $3,000 worth of donations. The association is already getting some donations to help get the festival going.

"Everything we've been paying for before will now be donated or offered at a reduced cost," he said.

Shivelbine's Music Store has offered to set up the sound for the stages, and Chuck McGinty of McGinty Jewelers has donated the use of his sound equipment. As for the bands, Cain said they have always reduced their prices for the festival.

Cain said that about 45 bands could play on the three outdoor stages during the festival and possibly another 11 or 12 in the clubs. On Sept. 24, the festival will run from 6 to 11 p.m., and from noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 25.

The stages will likely be divvied up according to musical style. That means a metal-punk stage, a jam band-blues stage and a pop music stage.

"We're going to put the emphasis on local talent, which was the original emphasis," Greenwood said.

Camp said planning for the 2005 festival needs to start as soon as the 2004 festival is over, including working on procuring sponsorship.

"We can't bring someone in with a national name right now because we don't have the money or sponsorship right now," Cain said.

335-6611, extension 182

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: