The second year of the Festival of the Bells being held at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro went pretty well, FOB President Rick Williams said, but whether it will be held at the college next year remains unknown.
“I have no idea, especially with a new city administration coming in. But what I have heard is that a lot of merchants would like to see things back uptown,” Williams said. “Overwhelmingly, people tell me they want it back uptown, but it’s too early to predict what might happen.”
He also said that while no exact dates have been set for what will be the 36th Festival of the Bells next year, preliminary thoughts are that Thursday, July 2 through Saturday, July 4 appear to be the likely dates.
“We’ll sit back and talk about things next month and see what worked and what didn’t work,” Williams said. “I think the changes we made worked. Moving things closer to the stage gave more room to vendors and other booths, and it also gave the people and the visitors in the arts and crafts area more room to move around.”
Williams said the shuttles that took visitors from the Hobart parking lot, which was nearly full at times, to the festival area also worked out well.
Crowd size was too hard to determine, Williams said.
“I think overall it went pretty good,” he said. “Saturday night had a light crowd due to a storm and rain and lightning that rolled in about the time the concert was supposed to start, and there was some rain before the Thursday night Christian concert, too. I think Devin Dawson (Saturday night) did a nice job, but Friday night was probably the biggest crowd, and Thursday was pretty close.
“It’s just so hard to tell out there because the location is so much larger. But they were not our largest crowds by any means. I think the weather had a lot to do with that. It’s hard to predict 93 degrees and rain.”
Williams said this was his 33rd year as a festival committee member, including about 22 as president or a co-chairman. He also is the entertainment chairman and said he plans to be back again next year.
“Nobody can say I haven’t gave back,” Williams said. “I plan to come back one more year. That’s the plan right now, then we’ll see what happens. I’ll set down with the new city administration, go from there and see what happens.”
Current Mayor Drew Hasting’s second four-year term ends at the end of the year. He is not running again. Current Hillsboro City Councilman Justin Harsha will likely follow Hastings since he is the only one that has filed for the position.
In his years as entertainment chairman Williams has drawn entertainers to Hillsboro that read like a list of who’s who in country music. Some of them include: Brad Paisley, Rascal Flats, Joe Diffie, Dierks Bentley, Trick Pony, Blake Shelton, Josh Gracin, Little Big Town, Taylor Swift, Neil McCoy, Julianne Hough, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Parmalee and more.
“We want to thank the police department, fire department, corporate sponsors and Southern State,” Williams said. “If there were no corporate sponsors, there would be no festival. We’d like people to thank those businesses for making what we do possible.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.