Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 7, 2013

Crowd comes early for activities in Central Park

ASHLAND — With sunny skies and a light breeze gently swaying the trees in Central Park, day four of Summer Motion 2013 began under ideal conditions as the annual festival switched locations and music lovers secured spots for folding seats to enjoy an evening performance by Landau Murphy Jr.

Before any dark clouds appeared overhead, car owners used soft cloths to brush away dust and pollen while appreciative people holding melting ice cream often got a little too close for comfort. Parents seemed to have as much fun as their children as they zipped into large plastic balls and tried to navigate their way across a shallow pool of water, or hooked into a zip-line for a quick ride through the trees, or took turns in different types of inflatable “bounce house” attractions.

The aroma of grilled onions and peppers wafted through the park, calling up the cravings of hungry people who enjoyed their meals at picnic tables, as well as beneath the park’s many massive trees.

The cooking smells seemed to direct many to the edge of the wrestling ring near the center of the park, where Ohio Championship Wrestling performers presented fast-paced and dramatic  duels between male and female contestants. Showing support for their favorites, audience members often chanted or clapped, and more often advised the referee in the ring that he was missing a lot of the action.

“C’mon ref — count faster!” “He’s got it in his hand!” “He’s touching the rope, Ref! He’s touching the rope!” were among the crews of the audience as wrestler Chance Prophet squared off against Dr. Tom Prichard for the day’s title match.

Prophet ultimately won the match, taking his championship belt for a couple of laps around the outside of the ring and high-fiving his numerous young fans along the way as he savored the victory. The defeated Dr. Tom Prichard stayed in the ring and tried to find some supporters in the crowd, but ultimately left the ring defeated and without any friends in the audience.

Summer Motion President Cade Mahan said he was pleased to have 75 classic and custom cars at the park despite the threat of weather, later adding organizers decided to hand out awards a little early due to the possibility of incoming storms. Wrestling, he said, was undeniably popular.

“That’s such a huge draw for us,” Mahan said. “We want to continue that next year and maybe even grow it a little bit.”

Mahan said the morning’s chef challenge was especially fun, pitting the defending champs from the Ashland Fire Dept. against the chef from Bellefonte Country Club.

“That was so close, but the club pulled out the ‘W’ and bragging rights,” he said.

Checking in with local emergency management officials for the latest word on a storm system which had last been reported in Grayson and heading this way, Mahan said the often rain-soaked festival has been a tremendous success, with an ideal start for Saturday’s festivities, which included the WTCR Texaco Country Showdown, and a first-time volleyball tournament with eight competing teams.

Friday evening’s concert by the band Styx was also an excellent experience, he said.

“Honestly, I think that’s the best show I’ve ever seen in Ashland, Kentucky,” Mahan said, noting the band’s professionalism and showmanship among their outstanding attributes. “I think we set the bar pretty high last night.”

Saturday’s festival in the park also proved the potential for even greater things in the city’s favorite recreation area, he said.

“Our biggest opportunity is to grow things in the park. We don’t utilize the park enough ... our board members all agree on that,” he said, adding the park allows the festival to have broader appeal to for teens and other young people.

As the rain slacked down in the late afternoon, Against the Grain members Andy Caudill, Davo Chandler, Mike Doolin, Barry Eastham and Charlie Doolin, took their turn on the bandstand stage, opening with The Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling.” Members of the band CARRIER, including Jeff Preston, Jeff Ware, Jordan Ware, Denver Rice and Tom Berry waited backstage during Against the Grain’s set, also watching the sky and debating their own chance to play before Murphy and his big band.

Mahan said local musicians were once again among the festival’s highlights.

“One of the things we take great pride in is featuring up and coming local bands like CARRIER. They do a really fabulous job and really play to the crowd,” he said. “They will be a great lead in for Landau.”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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