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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 10th Annual Merchants and Music Festival in One Word: Perfect

This article appeared in the November issue of The Fort Thomas Living

By Jessica Duke 

Merchants and Music by the Numbers:
Total Merchants: 112
Festival Goers: Estimated between 10,000-12,000
Musical Acts: 8
Total Beer Sales: $33,497.25
Arrests: 0

One local band, two stages, six nationally touring country groups, nine plus hours of entertainment, 29 sponsors, 54 kegs of beer, nearly a 100 food and vendor booths, 1,082 margaritas, and 12,000 people- add that all up and it makes for one incredible day. 

The 10th annual Merchants and Music Festival was held on Saturday September 28 amidst absolutely perfect weather, spirits, and conditions.  Ashli Slawter, Chairman of the Fort Thomas Renaissance Board, said “How do we spell success… great weather, great music, great businesses […] what an awesome event!” 

The day long festival began at 2 pm on the second stage with a performance by Highlands High School Sinfonia and then the local artists, The Carter New Band.  Prior to this performance, up-and-coming country talent Lyndsey Highlander performed an entire song for the Fox19 News broadcast team.  Other performers on the second stage included The Sleepin’ Dogs and Aly’an.

On the main stage, attendees from around the area got to see several major names and future major names in country music, all free of charge thanks to the sponsoring groups.  In addition to Lyndsey Highlander, Chris Janson, The Kentucky Headhunters, and John Michael Montgomery, headliner, all performed.  Debbie Buckley, Economic Development Director of the City of Fort Thomas, said when speaking about Janson, “If kindness, graciousness, and good old fashioned goodness can make a star, Chris is already a [one].”

Mix in his immense talent and it is easy to see why his autograph line stretched for what seemed like miles. 

Buckley also fondly remembers Richard Young, guitarist for The Kentucky Headhunters, asking for a ride to the cigar booth to purchase a Kentucky cigar and support the local businesses and she commented on Montgomery’s approachability citing the example of him signing a “NKY Hates Heroin” shirt for a swooning female fan.

Amy Andrews Lantis Hawley, festival attendee, said, “Fort Thomas knows music festivals! The vendors, the music, the venue, the ambiance, the night air…amazing!”  Fellow attendee Kimberly Fitzpatrick-Wallace called it the “the best organized event” and judging by the throng of happy fans, this sentiment seemed to hold true.

However, such an event cannot be successfully pulled off without planning and execution.  Said Slawter, “We would like to thank Griffin Industries along with our other sponsors and participants for making the event possible.” 

When asked what she would change for next year’s event, Linda Slone, Renaissance Board member, said, “Not a thing. It went off perfectly”.  Slone went on to cite the success for the businesses, “Fort Thomas Pizza completely sold out of everything and Anita’s had to go back three times for more margaritas”. 

Slone finished with a Save-the-Date reminder: “Fourth Saturday of September in 2014”.  Here’s to hoping they find a way to top this.  54 kegs of beer says, “Good luck!”

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