String Fling goes on

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Steve Fortin and Angela Siracusa of Sweet Diezel from Canada performed at the 4th Annual String Fling. They appeared in the Farmers Market Pavilion because of rain, but the audience got a closer and more personal performance.

String Fling IV entertained about half the crowd that attended the largest of the acoustical guitar, banjo, bass and fiddle concert when it was just south of Henry Horton State Park in the founder's back yard.

But it was only because buckets of rain fell Saturday on Rock Creek Park in Lewisburg where there seemed to be a consensus among the diminished crowd in the Farmers Market Pavilion: That may have been the best venue.

The audience was closer to the musicians. Music "the old fashioned way," without amplification of voices or instruments, was closer to its roots and people were happy.

"It started to rain. We stopped and got wet. The wind blew some things. The storm blew over," City Manager Eddie Fuller said of the act of God that cooled the day, cleaned the air and, admittedly, scared some people off.

String Fling founder Gary Francis started the music festival in his back yard in 2007. The next year he had organized parking, service clubs cooking food and a lot of people having fun. Soon, the crowd was at about 400 and it seemed too big for his backyard, the logical place for the event at his farm.

A crowd estimate of 150-200 people was provided by Greg Lowe, the city's codes officer, economic development assistant and publicist who provided announcement services during the concert.

The band Highland Rim "got blown off the stage," Lowe said. "They were playing up a storm," he announced.

With record rainfall in Middle Tennessee this month, Francis seemed a little pessimistic after the bottom fell out.

"This is the first year that we've had hard rain," he said. "The third year, it rained about 20 minutes and we stopped and then went on.

"This year," he said in the hospitality tent for musicians, "it doesn't look so good... There is no rain date"

Optimist Club members might recruit him since the show went on within the hour and was moved back to the stage from the Farmers Market Pavilion.

Reflecting on the flood lingering in Nashville, but which missed Marshall County, Francis said, "I thought two weeks ago that would be the end of it...

"We'll do it again next year and hope for good weather," Francis said.

At about 3:40 p.m. there were about 80 people in the pavilion, but the festival was scheduled to go into the night and by then the rain had passed and there were folks who never had to know that the show stopped for a while.

Francis is the operations director at Teledyne Electronic Technology in Lewisburg's Industrial Park and at least one of the String Fling's acts has its roots in the company's picnic.

Anton Grzempa, better known as Anton the Bubbleman, produced huge soap bubbles from his magic stick with a bubble string at the end.

"I've been blowing bubbles for 20 years," he said, "maybe 25."

The large soapy orbs float until they burst with a mid-flight splash of droplets.

"My grandkids have a captive bubbleman," Grzempa said.

Also at the festival were members of LASA, the Lewisburg Animal Shelter Adoptions, who sold food and drinks with help from various businesses and friends. Proceeds went to the shelter including clinic visits for dogs.

"Even with the rain, our total take was more than $600," LASA founding member Ken Todd said, noting that concessions customers expressed interest in adopting three to four dogs.