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May 27, 2014

And boom it did: New Albany's Boomtown Ball & Festival attracted big crowd

Inaugural event was capped by hometown band Houndmouth at The Grand

NEW ALBANY — Solid attendance at Sunday’s inaugural Boomtown Ball & Festival in downtown New Albany has city leaders and event organizers pleased with the turnout while eyeing the event’s future.

Boomtown’s crowd estimate comes in between 5,000 and 6,000 people, at least some of which made up the sold-out crowd for New Albany native Houndmouth’s performance at The Grand.

At Tuesday’s New Albany Board of Public works meeting, Mike Hall, head of city operations, said he was happy with how Boomtown went.

“We were definitely pleased with the turnout and support we received,” Hall said. “It turned out really well.”

The question of whether Boomtown will return still doesn’t have an exact answer. But from the point of view of the production company that helped stage the event, there’s a pretty good chance of another Boomtown.

Joe Argabrite, a partner with Louisville-based Production Simple, said with such a strong inaugural crowd, he thinks Boomtown shows promise for becoming perennial.

“I think it’s more likely than unlikely,” Argabrite said. “It’s an extremely strong turnout for a first-year event. The vast majority of people seemed very pleased with the event and it brought a lot of people into New Albany who typically don’t go there or spend their money there.”

Argabrite said many of the local businesses who took advantage of free booth space from Louisville Flea Off Market — the monthly flea market held in Louisville that set up at Boomtown — told him they did pretty well in sales.

He said crowds from Louisville and Lexington, Ky., were impressed with what downtown New Albany had to offer.

“From what I understood, everyone did good business and I think that really speaks to what locals would consider a success or not,” Argabrite said. “With that being said, there are some changes we’ll hope to push forward in the future to be able to get to a point where we can expand into allowing the brick-and-mortars to be more of a part of it. However, that really does depend on the local voices when it comes to the [state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission].”

Since alcohol was sold, ATC regulations forced organizers to fence off the festival.

Roger Baylor, owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co., said there are easy ways to approach regulations for festivals like Boomtown, but he had no problem adhering to the rules. He also said one of the easier ways might include using the riverfront amphitheater as a venue instead of the heart of downtown.

“There are 1,000 opinions about that,” said Baylor, who kept busy Sunday slinging beers. “From my perspective, I think that’s right. I don’t understand what the disconnect is with the amphitheater. I know that Houndmouth is the entity that moved this and they weren’t interested in playing the riverfront. I just think that if you look at a practical way in the space and facilities we have, you’d say why not do this in a space that was designed for it?”

Argabrite said he’s not sure what Houndmouth’s involvement in the festival would look like for any subsequent festivals, but he thinks the band shown an interest in returning.

Baylor said whatever happens with Boomtown, he hopes to see something like it come back to town.

“I think it’s a good idea to have something like that in the springtime, regardless of the future as it pertains to Houndmouth,” Baylor said. “I hope they’re in some position to do that a time or two, or three.”

RiverStage opening weekend also a success

RiverStage in Jeffersonville opened its season Friday with a show by the Louisville Crashers.

Sara Schutz, director of RiverStage and special events for Jeffersonville Parks and Recreation, said the outdoor venue had more than 5,000 people in attendance.

“It’s definitely one of our largest crowds,” she said. “... Of course, the Louisville Crashers are always a huge draw.”

The Saturday showing of Disney’s “Frozen” at RiverStage also had a high attendance.

She believes some of those numbers were people from Louisville who had walked or biked across the Big Four Bridge.

“I know that just during the week, there’s a lot of people coming down that are just discovering RiverStage for the first time,” she said. “Everyone I’ve talked to has been really excited that there are all these free activities that they can attend.”

For a full schedule of events, visit theriverstage.com.

— Staff writer Elizabeth Beilman contributed to this story.

 

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