It will have a different feel when the 34th Festival of the Bells kicks off Thursday in Hillsboro and is held for the first time at Southern State Community College. But FOB Committee President Rick Williams says the new location offers advantages over the former site in the center of town.
“The good thing about is that parkingwise, there’s going to be so much more out there,” Williams said. “Do we lose the hometown feel of the festival? Yes, probably, because it’s not downtown and people have to drive now. But there’s a lot of pluses. And it wouldn’t have happened this year without Southern State.”
There will be about 200 parking spaces at Southern State and 400 more at Hobart (after 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday) and all day Saturday, Williams said. Parking will not be permitted on any grass surfaces on the college campus, but Williams said additional parking will be available at Shaffer Park, the North High Business Center, the Hi-ETC Center, Weastec and Liberty Park.
There will be a larger VIP seating area and more general seating, Williams said, and there will be special VIP parking for corporate sponsors.
The Liberty Lions will direct parking traffic and Williams said the Hillsboro Police Department will monitor Hobart Drive and provide security.
Williams said there will be more rides, provided by Kissel Bros., and about the same number of vendors.
Four large generators will provide power.
Shuttles will be provided from uptown Hillsboro to the festival area from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Shuttles will not be offered any other time.
“If people from the uptown area wanted festival food for lunch, they could always walk out and get that. Uptown workers were going to miss that, so we’re going to keep that in motion,” Williams said. “The buses will run every half hour and if they’re full, they’ll be right back.”
That services is being provided by area churches, Williams said, and buses will pick people up and bring them back to the veterans memorial at the Highland County Courthouse.
A drawing of the festival area accompanies this story. Williams said that safety for pedestrians on the festival site, location of water and power sources, and accessibility have all been considered in the layout.
Additional conveniences for festival goers include a dining tent, expanded concert viewing area, more accommodating food vendor access, a larger arts and crafts tent, and a designated photo spot.
Another new attraction will be COSI, the science museum and research center in Columbus, which will be at the festival from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“The festival will combine old favorites with new activities and will offer something for everyone,” a press release provided by Williams said.
The festival runs Thursday, July 5 through Saturday, July 7, and once again top quality music will be provided each evening.
Country music artists Dylan Scott and Adam Doleac will be the main musical acts at the 2018 festival. Scott, a rising country star from Louisiana, will perform at the festival Friday, July 6, and Doleac, who is featured on Pandora’s 2018 Country Artists to Watch list, will be the featured act Saturday, July 7.
“We went through about 12 different artists trying to get booked this year,” Williams said previously. “We’re really happy with who we have. Dylan Scott has had a number one hit and has another one rising on the charts quick, and Adam Doleac is pretty young, but it seems like when they come through Hillsboro they become megastars.”
Local artist Patrick Roush will open for Scott on Friday, and Cincinnati rock group Bad Habit will open for Doleac on Saturday.
For the 13th year, a Christian concert featuring Hollyn and Unspoken will kick off the festival’s entertainment on Thursday, July 5. Hollyn, a young female performer from Pike County who is on TobyMac’s label, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Unspoken, which has toured with Big Daddy Weave and Sanctus Real and has charted songs on numerous Christian music charts, will play at 9 p.m.
A full schedule can be viewed on the festival’s website or Facebook page.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.