We already know this much about Summer Motion: It is no ordinary affair.
While it is widely taken for granted in Our Community — after all, we’ve been doing it for the past 24 years — it shouldn’t be.
It’s an event — Our Event — that takes months and months of planning, communication, frustrations, exhilarations and mostly support from the entire area.
It’s a nearly $450,000 proposition and that money doesn’t just fall from the sky. There’s plenty of fundraising that happens all year long. While many would say that’s the role of our major corporations you would be right and be wrong.
There are some major sponsorships that Summer Motion officials ask for help every year and without them the festival would be sunk. But even you, Mr. Ordinary Citizen, or you, Mr. Small Business Owner, can be supportive of Our Summer Motion with donations of almost any size.
And, while the happenings on the riverfront are absolutely free to anyone who wants to attend,
there are certain perks that go along with making donations — things like VIP seating and backstage passes to meet the artists. This year that would include Styx, Lover Boy and Sawyer Brown. The combination of legendary rockers, ’80s band and country seem to be the perfect mix for three great days on the riverfront.
The committee that determines who will be playing does so with the community’s tastes in mind. It’s a big chunk of the budget, too, but also what brings the crowds by the thousands to Ashland’s riverfront.
Mostly, though, your donations would be helping keep alive an event that has brought so much positive attention and even some acclaim to Our Town. Summer Motion is our signature event and hopefully it will be for decades to come. What this summer festival has developed into over 25 years, for an area of our size, is nothing short of amazing. The list of artists and bands that have played here reads like a Who’s Who of rockin’ legends and rising country stars.
The entire five-day event is family friendly — no alcohol allowed — and a place to just let your hair down for a few days.
But it doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t happen without the right leadership.
Cade Mahan, the new president of Summer Motion, understands the pressures of running this mammoth festival (a position that, in case you were wondering, is all volunteer).
Mahan took over when Chuck Charles, Ashland’s new mayor, resigned last summer after 14 years of being the engine behind the event. What he did was bring people together with varying levels of expertise and weave it into a cohesive team. Mahan has followed a similar strategy.
But Summer Motion has been ongoing in Ashland for 25 years, including the time it was the Tri-State Fair & Regatta.
The area’s biggest summer event and, frankly what we’ve become known for in Ashland, is a month away. It’s a time of anxiousness for Mahan and the Summer Motion committees but mostly for Mahan. He understands the importance of each and every person that helps with Summer Motion but he also understands that the buck stops with him if anything goes wrong, right down to the weather.
Mahan is clear what it takes to make Summer Motion a success and, in my estimation, it’s well on the way to happening on this silver anniversary. It will be another memorable summer on the river.
The heavy lifting of fundraising and negotiating with the acts is behind him, although, in reality, fundraising for Summer Motion really never ends. It’s certainly an ongoing proposition in today’s economic climate.
But support from all businesses — big and small — in the Ashland area and even individuals will insure that future Summer Motions will keep making this one of the South’s top festivals and make Ashland a place of destination over the Fourth of July holidays.
We should take pride in Summer Motion and do our part in making its present and its future bigger and brighter.
Now, get ready for some fun on the river.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.