Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 9, 2013

Summer Motion successful despite all the rainy weather

ASHLAND — Joe Btfsplk was a character in the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner who always went around with a dark rain cloud over his head.

Meet Cade Mahan, Ashland’s Joe Btfsplk.

But Mahan, the first-year president of Summer Motion, didn’t let a few days of rain dampen his enthusiasm. The show went on and went on well.

“I couldn’t believe the resilience of our people, sitting in the pouring rain and waiting for concerts,” he said. “We had tremendous crowds and a sea of umbrellas. It was a testament to how great and how well-received Summer Motion is.”

Concertgoers on the riverfront dodged downpours as they waited for shows to start. On Saturday night, when Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. was to sing at the bandstand in Central Park, literally hundreds hunkered down under umbreallas.

“It was a solid downpour for an hour and a half leading up to him coming on stage,” Mahan said. “To look out there and see everybody sitting in the grass with lawn chairs and the kaleidoscope of colors from the umbrellas was something else. Imagine how many people would have been there if it hadn’t rained. I don’t know where we would have put them all.”

Murphy delighted the audience with his singing and personality. He went out into the audience shaking hands during his last song.

But the hit of the concerts had to be Styx. The rock legends played on Friday night in front of thousands on the riverfront.

“I couldn’t get over how awesome their entire show was,” Mahan said. “I was talking to my mom (Sudie Davis) and said, ‘That’s world-class entertainment.’ They are rock stars and we had them in Ashland, Ky. The smiles on everybody’s faces after their concert said it all.

“I hope we can at least meet those standards next year. We’ve set the bar kind of high.”

Mahan had the job of adjusting on the fly with five consecutive day of rain. It was the wettest Summer Motion in recent memory.

“It seemed like in the past we’d have a big shower at one point in the day and then it’d blow over,” he said. “We had five days of almost constant downpour. I don’t remember one being that wet.”

Mahan said the festival never would have been as successful without a community willing to be inconvenienced by weather and a workaholic committee that adjusted to almost anything.

“Everybody did an amazing job,” he said. “There are some key players, but it takes everybody. There is such dedication to Summer Motion. I couldn’t have done anything without the awesome support of the entire committee.”

Mahan said Scott Martin, Ruby Deerfield, Tom LeMaster and Dianne Clement were invaluable to him.

Despite all the rain, only a couple of concerts on the Fourth of July were cut a song or two short. Also, a set for Cledus T. Judd and David Browning, the Mayberry Deputy, was shortened. But the spectacular fireworks were executed on schedule.

Mahan said his family belonged on the hero list, too. His wife, Jenny, and 2-year-old son, Ky, gave up lots of time with him. Cade sat with his wife and boy on the front row during the Sawyer Brown concert. Little Ky danced the night away.

“That was the first and only concert he got to see,” Mahan said. “We had earplugs for him. He was really having a good time. Some of the guys in the band made eye contact with him and said afterward, ‘Your boy was really digging it!’”

On Sunday night, Jenny let Ky stay up a little later than usual to wait for his father to come home. It was about 10:30 when Cade walked through the door.

“He greeted me with the greatest hugs and kisses and said, ‘Daddy don’t go! Daddy don’t go!’ It was kind of touching. I know a lot of the families of other committees sacrificed, too.”

As for next year, Mahan would like to possibly add hot air balloon rides on the riverfront and expand what is offered in Central Park. He is considering Mountain Dew skateboarding and BMX competitions. “We have a lot of room to grow in the park,” he said.

Oh, and he’s considering one more thing: weather insurance.

“It’s available and I’m looking into it,” Mahan said. The bands are paid whether they play or not, he said. “It might be worth it after this year.”

Summer Motion umbrellas may be another idea.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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