The 34th annual Festival of the Bells was successful enough its first time being held at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro that discussions are already underway to hold the festival in the same location next year, event organizers said Monday.
While nothing has been set in stone yet, FOB Committee President Rick Williams said that the 2019 festival would likely be held July 4-6, and that if Southern State extends an invitation, there is a good chance the festival will return there next year.
“I thought it went very well. Like anything you do at a new location, you’re going to have some bugs here and there,” Williams said. “We know a few things we want to change for next year, but overall I thought it went extremely good.”
Southern State President Dr. Kevin Boys said Monday afternoon that he had spoke with Williams on the phone about an hour earlier and that they were in the beginnings stages of discussions for the festival to be held at the college next year.
“I don’t know that I could have expected any better turnout or logistics. As far as the college is concerned, it was fantastic,” Boys said. “Great music, great food and good weather. Does it get any better than that?”
Boys said that since July 4 falls on a Thursday next year, and the festival normally runs Thursday through Saturday, that might be even better than this year when the Fourth of July fell on Wednesday.
Boys also complimented the Festival of the Bells Committee.
“That committee is an awesome group of people,” Boys said. “There’s just 14 of them and for them to be able to put that festival together for their community each year is amazing.”
Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy said the Southern State location was easier to monitor, both on foot among the crowd and on ATVs while keeping an eye of the college’s facilities.
“I think it definitely went a lot smoother,” Goudy said. “Of course, I wasn’t here last year, but I’ve worked enough festivals and similar events. The way it went this year was very smooth. My opinion is that, yes, it was better.”
Rain that went through the area shortly before the Christian concert on Thursday hurt the crowd size a little, Williams said, but he thought the Friday crowd for country musician Dylan Scott was almost as big as last year’s Saturday evening concert by Brett Young and some of the festival’s other large crowds.
“It was right up there with them,” Williams said.
The Saturday night crowd for Adam Doleac was down this year, he said, for several reasons – three to four area weddings, a Taylor Swift concert the same evening in Columbus, along with a Colt Ford performance in Chillicothe.
Williams said the festival will be working to add more corporate sponsors for next year. Anyone interested can contact Williams at [email protected] or any committee member. He said one of the big expenses this year was four generators that had to be rented to supply power at a cost of about $9,000. The committee will also be looking for a few new members.
The festival lost a bit of its hometown feel not being held in the uptown area as usual, Williams said, but cleanup was much easier, there was more room and overall things went well.
“We appreciate all the corporate sponsors, the college, the Hillsboro Police Department and the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District. We’re all getting a little older and we’ll probably need a little more help next year,” Williams said. “I don’t know of any problems that we had. Everything worked out, and the committee worked hard to make sure that happened.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected].