Bluegrass Festival joins list of summer events here

Published 6:42 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A local businessman's trip to a Bluegrass festival in Osceola, Ind, is responsible for triggering the first-ever Bluegrass festival to be held in Niles.
The new "Niles Bluegrass Festival," sponsored by Niles Riverfest and the Downtown Development Authority, will take place from Friday, June 27, to Sunday, June 29, at the Riverfront Park in Niles.
Tom Majerek, one of the Bluegrass festival's three organizers and whose brainchild the Bluegrass festival is, said he has always been interested in Bluegrass music.
Majerek said when he went to the festival in Osceola, he asked its organizers what they thought it would take to get a Bluegrass festival off the ground in Niles.
They gave him some advice and when Majerek got back he eventually got in touch with Lisa Croteau, the Downtown Development Authority director, and Rick Schpock, a "Time Travelers String Band" member.
He said Croteau and Schpock were excited about the idea.
What soon became apparent to the three, however, was the need for waste management, portable toilets, and concession stands if the festival was to happen.
Majerek, who is also a member of Niles Riverfest Committee, said the Riverfest Committee because of their previous experience has therefore taken on the responsibility of organizing some of the practical sides to the festival.
For a festival like this to happen, Majerek also said there is a need to raise money to hire bands to come and play.
Majerek said so far, Coldwell Banker, Wings Etc., NCP Coating, the City of Niles and Campbell Ford have contributed money to the festival.
He said if this year's festival is successful, it may be expanded next year.
For those who don't know what Bluegrass music is, Majerek offers a brief explanation of the music style that seems to be growing in popularity around the country.
He said Bluegrass bands are often equipped with guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles and bass.
However, Bluegrass bands don't often use drums, he said. And, Bluegrass bands use no electrification other than to amplify their sound, he said.
Majerek is hopeful the new festival will draw a good crowd in its first year and hopes it will become a permanent event. "I hope that this things grows into something big," he said.
Bands local and out of state have already signed up to play at this year's Bluegrass festival.
For more information about the festival call (269) 687 4332.