Expanded entertainment among features at annual event
Dan Heitmeyer is one busy man this time of year.
The president of Pickerington's Violet Festival wears many hats coordinating the logistics involved in putting on a four-day party that draws over 40,000 people from July 24 to 27 to Victory Park.
There is even more on Heitmeyer's plate this year with the introduction of several new attractions, including a Friday night concert headliner, something that's never been done before at the festival.
Award-winning singing artist Jo Dee Messina will perform at 9:30 p.m. July 26 on the RG Barry stage July 26.
"We're getting a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about her coming to the festival," Heitmeyer said.
A country star with nine No. 1 singles under her belt, Messina's performance is attracting considerable interest from outside Ohio, Heitmeyer said.
"She's a huge draw," he said.
July 27, Saturday night's featured entertainment is generating its fair share of hubbub as well, Heitmeyer said.
"Survivor is another great headliner," he said of the popular rock band known for its 1982 mega-hit Eye of the Tiger. The band is scheduled to take the stage at 9:30 p.m.
Heitmeyer said the goal this year was to secure two big-time national acts to play the Violet Festival on back to back nights.
"We'll evaluate how it goes this year," he said.
"If it's a success we're going to continue to try it in the future and build on it," Heitmeyer said.
Also new this year is the children's activities area, sponsored by Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Located in the Victory Park Shelter House, the area will host a wide array of activities suited for children, including "Granpa Cratchet's Puppet Show."
"We found Granpa Cratchet at a festival last year around Nelsonville," Heitmeyer said.
"We saw the excitement level with kids and thought 'Wow! that would be a great addition to the Violet Festival.' "
He said the premise behind the show is that Granpa and his barnyard of puppets deliver the message of "The Golden Rule" while simultaneously keeping children engaged and laughing. The puppet shows will take place throughout the four days of the festival.
While not a new activity, the Downtown Dash, a 5K run sponsored by the Diley Ridge Medical Center, has been moved up this year to 9 a.m. Saturday, July 27.
"We changed it to morning time so hopefully we get a higher level of participation," Heitmeyer said.
Runners can register in advance for $25 per person or pay $30 on the day of the event.
This year there is a free one-mile long "Kids Fun Run," set to go off 15 minutes prior to the adult run.
Also new this year is the PNC Bank "Cool Zone."
Festival attendees will be able to escape the heat and bask in the confines of a tent equipped with cooling fans.
"People can come in there, relax and cool off," Heitmeyer said. "We have to have something like that because of the hot and humid weather."
Other signature events include the Violet Festival Parade, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 26, and the Car and Bike Show, sponsored by AAA Auto Club.
The Car and Bike Show will feature more than 100 vintage and collector vehicles on Columbus Street from noon to 3:30 p.m. in Olde Pickerington Village July 27.
Heitmeyer said people can also expect all the usual festival favorites such as carnival rides, local musicians, a business showcase and, of course, great food.
Admission to the Festival is $3 per person Wednesday and Thursday, and $5 per person Friday and Saturday when purchased at the gate.
Children 11 years old and younger will be admitted free.
Discounted four-day admission passes are on sale at Roosters and Key Bank in Pickerington for $10.
Heitmeyer said the Violet Festival appreciates assistance from its numerous sponsors and volunteers, including The Wounded Warrior Project.
"(The Wounded Warrior Project) is partnering with the festival," he said. "In exchange, they will receive a donation from the Violet Festival for helping us out," Heitmeyer said.
The title sponsor of the 2013 event is Mount Carmel Health Systems. Other sponsors include R.G. Barry Brands, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Diley Ridge Medical Center, Fairfield County Commissioners and the city of Pickerington.
More information about the events and activities planned for the 2013 Violet Festival is available at www.VioletFestival.org.