(Something to remember)

I can honestly say looking back at 34 years of the Smoky Hill River Festival event in Salina, KS that this had to be one of the most memorable ones for me of all the past years.  I set out my mind to do interviews with as many artists as possible for articles to use in the magazine.  I never thought I would actually meet one of the behind the scenes people, Sharon Benson.  I did a brief interview with her and I was extremely impressed.  It takes a lot of hard work to put on any event, especially a huge four-day festival.  Many people work behind the scenes for an event like this.

There were many of the same Artist’s as last year, but when you think how they go through the jury process and all their hard work just to be welcomed, it’s quite an accomplishment for them to show their talents.  Beautiful items from jewelry, to pottery, and painting to photography art were showcased.  There were many items for the children this year too.  Handmade flutes from clay, and other items were some of the highlights.  I watched a demonstration with pottery and blacksmithing.  Who would have thought either artist would sit through the scorching  heat to show how they do the art the love.

In the Children’s section more adults were seeking shelter, with puppet shows, story-tellers, music, and other activities the event was well suited for all members of the family.  Sharon also shared a secret I didn’t know of how they teach the children about the value of money and they can purchase a piece of art.  That’s truly a wonderful way to introduce young people into the art world.

Thursday night’s “jam session” kept me hopping’ from interviews, to photographs, taking release forms to the AxCess TV van, and more.  It was so much fun to talk with musicians who were picked to be part of the program.

Music of all genres filled the arena area at Eric Stein’s Stage.  The crowd danced, even those sitting on the ground were moving to the beat.  I actually took pictures of one of my favorite metal groups right off the stage.  It was really great to see all of them.  With country music, rock and roll, classic rock, jazz and blues, and even hip-hop the crowd was cheering loudly between band changes.

I also interviewed Steve Hanson who has been in the music industry many great years, with a band that has played at the event 25 years!  (See video interviews under local scoop.)

Friday morning I met up with James Lowe and Larry D Trent volunteer staff members of Afresh Entertainment and also members of Jiggy Jag TV.  We headed off to Stage II where were video taped, photographed, and interviewed the performers.  It was a delight to meet people from all over the world.  With colorful costumes and a bright background, the event was fantastic!

Once again all types of music filled the air from all the stages.  You could tell the event was very well set up because there was no bleed over from the other stages!  Every tent was filled with people who loved the gift of good musical entertainment.  One of my favorite women was Judy Coder.  I have never heard anyone yodel as beautifully as she does.  Her western style music was a delight for everyone.  She is an amazing artist and I can’t wait to see her again soon.  Of course, I enjoyed hearing all of the bands, and listening to a great variety of sensational songs.

Saturday was one of the most rewarding days for me as we just had some old fashion fun.  We started out at the Bravo stage, and worked our way to Stage II, then finally the Eric Stein stage.

But, I interviewed one of my favorite jazz artists, Joe Vincelli who was a “roaming artist”.  He walked around entertaining the public and later performed on the stage with his band.  His concept and new revolutionary idea of the “jump drive” CD is amazing.  Where else can you download the music and then have a “jump drive” to use for other purposes.  Those of you who know Joe well may relate to some of his music as back-up pieces for the Weather Channel TV.  At any rate, Joe works the crowd well and he had a captive audience!

I watched a matching band and some children dressed up as butterflies following their leader.  Someone dressed in a bright flower costume was in the center of the group.  Even the sun and the moon were dancing in costume to a woman playing the ukulele.  I also watched a fire juggler right before the big storm hit the event.  Through the wind and a few sprinkles here and there, the artist used flaming torches to juggle from a unicycle.  It was pretty awesome and a little scary at the same time.  But, I did get some great video!

Once the two smaller stages closed down for the day, James went to the car and brought out his big Mexican hat.  Larry filmed James while he just walked around interviewing people about the festival.  I chatted with a few friends here and there, had some wonderful food before going to the Eric Stein stage.  Clouds formed and severe weather was spotted near the area.  The audience remained calm while patiently waiting to hear Delbert McClinton perform.  Grammy winner Delbert McClinton has been making great music for more than 40 years. Before hitting the national charts in 1962 – playing harmonica for Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby” – McClinton gave guitar lessons to John Lennon and other artists. His next album, “Room To Breathe” (available August 2010) proves he’s at the top of his game. Rolling Stone calls McClinton one of the “living icons of genuine American music.”

The rain began to pour!  I went over to a canopy where others were holding it down to find shelter from the high wind and heavy rain while the storm blew over Salina.  (I took some photographs of the usual lightning with the crowd sitting all around the stage on the ground.) Everyone wondered if the band was going to be able to play.  While the band played their one song before shutting the event down for the evening, two small children still found the music entertaining as they ran through the rain to the music with a blanket draped over their heads.

Everyone smiled as they watched the children running through the rain.  Someone remarked. “well I guess that’s why they call this show biz, huh.”  Laughter filled the canopy and even though the event was canceled for the remainder of the night, the evening was still a night to remember.  Sunday was a day of relaxation with vendors going through the tear down process.  Artists packing up all their merchandise, while checking for any damage from the storm still said “they can’t wait to come back again year“.

High fives to those who made Smoky Hill River Festival such a huge success. I, myself can’t wait until next year‘s plans are released!!!!  

Anne Shiever


I had the great honor of interviewing Sharon Benson on the scene about the “Behind the scenes” of the Smoky Hill River festival 2010.  I look forward to next year’s event as well as talking to Sharon again soon.

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Music brings people all ages together, and sometimes people call it the center to the soul for “WHEN WORDS SPEAK IN A WHISPER, MUSIC SPEAKS LOUD AND PROUD!!!”