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Old Mar 13, 2007, 09:22 AM   #1
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Default Article on Harrison festival in Benton, Illinois

From the Benton Evening News website:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Beatle Festival may include other events

By Mona Sandefur - Staff writer
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:28 AM CDT

George Harrison and Beatles lovers met Sunday at the Hard Day's Nite Bed & Breakfast in Benton to continue discussion on the Sept. 8 event, slated to take place in two locations.

When the festival date was previously announced, it was designed to not conflict with the 17th annual Rend Lake Car Show. Turns out, that is the date of the car show - which had Benton-West City Chamber of Commerce members contacting Harrison Festival members about the conflict.

But the conflict is now being seen as a happy coincidence.

Steve Woodfin, one of the car show's organizers, attended Sunday's meeting, saying he had spoken with other committee members who regretted they could not attend.

Woodfin said that while it might take a bit more discussion, car show committee members seemed to be in favor of making this a combined event.

He explained that a permit would be issued from Illinois Department of Transportation officials to close the Benton Public Square from 4 to 9 p.m. the day of the event.

Though the car show does not officially kick off until 4 p.m., Woodfin said people start lining the square during the early afternoon in order to find a perfect location to show off their wheels.

Festival committee members Warren Batts, Jim Kirkpatrick and B&B owner Sarah Morrison said they plan to have live bands performing on the square, behind Capitol Park. Batts said a stage would be located behind Capitol Park, with the Billy Grammer Band Shelter used to house sound and light equipment.

Batts, an original member of Bill Haley's Comets, said he performs solo, and with both a large and a small band, and would be performing during the event. Music from George Harrison tribute bands, including special guest Peter Conrad of Ohio and a host of area bands that performed in the area during the 1960s, have been invited, Batts said.

Morrison said Conrad had offered to perform free of charge and would be spending the night in a room of the famous house in which George Harrison spent a number of days in 1963, visiting his sister, Louise.

Morrison said she had been in contact with Conrad and offered a listening glimpse of his music, via CD. Members agree, saying Conrad sounds like George Harrison.

“I have received confirmation from three bands and expect to receive a fourth confirmation,” Batts said.

He said entertainers would perform from 1 until 5 p.m. Batts and Kirkpatrick said the two events would enhance one other.

But wait, there's more. Enter Andrew Hart and his father, Lonnie, who attended the meeting, representing WQRL Radio. Batts said he had talked with Andrew about providing support during the events, adding Andrew had an even better idea.

“I need to talk with our marketing director, Scott Swalls, but we may be able to work with you to make this an even bigger event,” Andrew Hart said. “We wanted to host a customer appreciation event sometime in September. What better time than to combine all three events on the same day.”

Hart, Woodfin, Batts, Morrison and Kirkpatrick agree that by combining the events, the advertising dollars could be extended further.

Woodfin said the committee would receive advertising dollars from Franklin County Tourism Bureau. Combined with money received from the Tourism Bureau for the George Harrison Beatle Festival, more advertising could be done.

Woodfin said Thomas Printing in West City prints the fliers for the annual event. Kirkpatrick asked if the Harrison Festival could be billed on the same advertisement and Woodfin said he would check with committee members.

Andrew Hart said WQRL would have advertising dollars to possibly add to the pool. Hart said he is working to locate a headliner band to round out the day's events, saying the radio station had already been asked to participate in conjunction with the car show.

Batts said he is working to contact the Ringo Starr All-Star Band to possibly perform during the event; he said the band had previously performed in Du Quoin. Kirkpatrick said that would be a huge draw, adding Starr was expected to make the trip to Benton with Harrison but his plans changed at the last minute.

Kirkpatrick said the date is significant, saying Harrison visited his sister during September 1963, 44 years earlier.

Kirkpatrick said it is important to keep Harrison's memory alive. Kirkpatrick said the tie-in with the car show is perfect, adding Harrison had a love for cars.

“George Harrison visited the dealership where the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center is now,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick and Morrison suggested having a couple of speakers between performers. Kirkpatrick suggested having Marcia Raubach of West Frankfort speak, saying Raubach was the first person in the United States to play a recording of The Beatles.

“The first Beatles' recording was heard on WFRX in West Frankfort,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said Raubach would talk about her “chumming around” with Harrison during his visit to Benton.

Morrison said she would have an announcement of her own, closer to the day of the event. Morrison said Hard Day's Nite would be open for tours during the extravaganza, adding she is planning events for the bed and breakfast, including a Beatles trivia contest and a George Harrison look-alike contest.

Kirkpatrick suggested having a horse drawn carriage transporting people from the square to the McCann Street location. Morrison said she is concerned about traffic on East Main Street. Hart said the radio station has a bus painted in 1960s colors, adding that at present is not operable. Batts said, among other things, he also does engine work, and volunteered to get the bus in operating condition.

When asked about the traffic flow problems associated with closing the square for the annual car show, Woodfin said he does not see this as a problem. “I don't think it will be any different than the annual cruise nights held monthly on the square,” Woodfin said. “During those events the square is not closed to traffic, but everything usually works smoothly. Police Chief Mike O'Neill has done an excellent job of mapping an alternate route during the car show.”

Kirkpatrick and Batts suggested signage along the alternate route, leading to the bed and breakfast. “I think signs would channel more people toward the bed and breakfast,” Batts said.

Members said Swalls would be invited to attend the next meeting, to further firm up plans.

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Old Mar 13, 2007, 11:31 AM   #2
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are you going to go jes?
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 08:37 AM   #3
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Sounds like fun, but I don't know. Is anyone else interested?

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Old Mar 14, 2007, 05:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jesgear View Post
“George Harrison visited the dealership where the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center is now,” Kirkpatrick said.
Aww, this makes it particularly sweet then to combine these events.
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Old Apr 08, 2007, 04:57 PM   #5
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I hope a lot of pre-1965 Ford Falcons graced that place like when George was there in late 1963!

I read the Chadys were selling the place. Who owns 113 McCann Street now?
With a love like that, you know you should be glad, yeah, yeah, yeah!-- Beatles, 1963

If I seem to act unkind, it's only me, it's not my mind. -- George Harrison, 1966
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