Charlie Daniels Band to headline Chingawassa Days

Now in its 21st year, Chingawassa Days will bring some Southern hospitality to Marion when the Charlie Daniels Band takes center stage at 9 p.m. Saturday in Central Park.

Clayton Garnica, in his third year as Chingawassa chairman, said one of the first things the committee does at the end of the previous year’s festival is to begin planning for the next one.

“Bands are always the first thing discussed,” he said. “We have a talent booking agent based out of Nash­ville, (Tenn.).”

The agent’s name is Patti Donahoe, and she’s been working with Chingawassa committee members since the beginning, he said.

Garnica said Donahoe will send the com­mittee a touring artist list with everyone traveling around the country.

“This list consists of every genre of music and it also shows the pricing for each band,” he said. “Patti sends us suggestions on who is the ‘hot’ band for the upcoming year, and who she thinks is a good bang for the buck.”

The committee reviews the list and picks the bands that are within their budget.

“We, as a committee, then compile our top three bands ranking them from first to third,” he said.

Donahoe submits an offer for the Chingawassa committee on those choices, and then it’s a waiting game, Garnica said.

“Sometimes the process is very quick, but sometimes it can be lengthy,” he said. “This year, Charlie Daniels was our first pick and (Donahoe) said it was a slam dunk.”

The committee sent an offer, and within a week, the band said agreed to come.

Saturday’s opening acts begin at 5:30 p.m. with country music artist Brody Caster, and at 7 p.m. Scotty Bratcher, country and blues.

Friday, June 2, entertainment will include Moriah Peters at 7:15 p.m., and Chris August performing Christian music.

An intimate show

Unlike larger venues, the Chingawassa festival is one of the few places people can see a national recording artist in a small town, and without having to drive for an hour or more, Garnica said.

“Chingawassa is a more intimate show than maybe some concerts people will attend,” he said. “Everybody can get right up front by the stage without having to fight their way through, and the artists that come genuinely love these small venues.”

What is new

In addition to the inflatables, the committee has a never-before contest called, Rhino-size Jenga starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the rock stage, Garnica said.

“This is being put on by the retired Rhinos, which consists of everyone who previously served on the Chingawassa committee and their families,” he said.

Rhino-size Jenga is like the classic Jenga strategic puzzle game, but only bigger, Garnica said.

“We are looking forward to having it this year, and th excitement it will bring,” he said. “We always try to have something for everyone on Saturday.”

Some activities making a repeat performance include the cute-baby contest, the heads/tails game, bingo, watermelon feed, Rhino sculpting, bed races and, from 5-7 p.m., the com­munity barbecue.

Magic is back

Committee members are also bringing back magician Steve Spencer during the ice cream social beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We were asked if we could do that again,” he said. “We are also bringing back the dunk tank that was very popular last year.”

Other children’s activities are the inflatables available all day Saturday, which are free to the kids, Garnica said.

The committee has a lot of contests that people can watch and participate in all day, rang­ing from the bingo tournament and horseshoe pitching to the pie-eating contest and tug of war.

“We make the brochure all about the family because that’s exactly what Chingawassa is—a family event,” he said.

Lots of planning

The festival brochure is one of the more difficult aspects of pulling the festival together, he said.

“Getting all the contests and events in a list is the easy part, but figuring out when to schedule each event and what time requires forethought,” he said.

The committee needs to ensure there’s something going on at a certain time for every member of the family at any age. If there’s something going on where people can sit and relax and not schedule too many big events at the same time so people don’t have to pick one event over another, he said.

“With all of that being part of the thought process, the brochure changes many times before it is completed,” Garnica said.

“We understand that some­times people will have to pick from this or that, but we feel when our brochure is finalized it will minimize that as much as possible.”

Input welcome

Garnica said, in reality the planning never stops.

“After the festival, we as a committee meet in June and go over the weekend, discussing what we can change for next year, talking about the comments we heard and deciding when to start the next year,” he said.

Typically, the committee starts meeting regularly in late July or early August.

Garnica said the committee likes to hear from the public about changes and favorites.

“We talk about it, and as a committee decide whether it’s something we can incorporate or if we need to wait for the next year,” he said.

Price of buttons

Two different types of passes are provided. One is the button, which admits the wearer into everything listed on the brochure, Garnica said.

The other is a day pass for Saturday that costs $10.

“That will get someone into everything on Saturday up until about 4:30 p.m.,” he said.

The day pass doesn’t cover Friday night events or evening concerts either day.

The committee understands the cost of a button can get expensive.

“Buying a button is one thing, but when you get to the park there are other expenses involved, too,” he said.

Some of those include buying food, some contests requiring a fee, non-food vendors, the beer garden and other expenses.

“We have changed our pricing a bit, and really have tried to get people to buy the advance sale price of $25, instead of $40 at the gate,” he said. “For $25, a person can get a free barbecue meal on Friday night, a free ice cream and entertainment on the main stage.

“On Saturday, the button gives access to all the free contests, a watermelon feed, bingo, and an experience that you and your family will never forget.”

The Chingawassa committee deserves recognition for working year round to put this festival together, Garnica said.

Committee members are Misty Hett, Margo Yates, Dave Crofoot, Davey Hett, Jeff Richmond, Jenna Brunner, Brent Cleeton, Matt Powers, Kodi Panzer, Jenna Meyerhoff, Emma Tajchman, Adam Heerey and Lisa Hemphill.

“If you see them during Chinga weekend, tell them ‘thank you,’” he said.

Garnica said Chingawassa wouldn’t be the huge success it is without support from the community, donors, vendors, agent, families—and all the people who buy a button or day pass. For information, call 620-382-3425 or visit