Three’s a charm

Springsfest music festival returns to Yellow Springs


Guided by Voices await further instructions. Kevin March, Bob Pollard, Doug Gillard, Mark Shue (l-r), and Bobby Bare, Jr. (front)

by Tim Walker

Summer sun, craft beer, and a lineup of great bands are a combination that can’t be beat. And when you take a day filled with all of that, place it in the tiny hamlet of Yellow Springs, call it Springsfest and make it an annual event, crowds of fun-loving people from the surrounding area will surely beat a path to the show—especially when lo-fi rock god veterans Guided By Voices are the event’s headliner.

Music festivals, as we all know, sprout up like mushrooms in the summer months in many communities, and the Miami Valley is no exception. There’s nothing better than a long day spent out in the heat with some good friends and good music, drinking a nice craft beer or two and patronizing some great vendors selling food—and Yellow Springs native Conor Stratton knows it.

“I’m the founder and director of Springsfest,” says the 26-year-old Stratton when he spoke with the Dayton City Paper recently. “I started the festival three years ago under my company, Great Guys Entertainment. My company got its start during the Dayton Music Festival. We rebranded it the Dayton Music, Art, and Film Festival and directed it for two years, and somewhere in there I decided I really wanted to start a festival that was actually in my hometown, because I’m from Yellow Springs.”

Springsfest has only grown in size and popularity since the day Stratton started it back in 2016. With sponsors such as the Yellow Springs Brewery and the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, Warped Wing Brewing Company, Madtree Brewing Company, Dunphy Real Estate and Wagner Subaru behind the festival, the 2018 Springsfest musical lineup is the strongest yet.

Fresh off the release of their newest album, ‘Space Gun,’ Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices headline the festival, with Twin Peaks, Caamp, Counterfeit Madison, Speaking Suns, The Cordial Sins, Teen Age, Adam Remnant, Lori, and Gaptooth Grin rounding out the bill. Kicking off the day’s entertainment, Yellow Springs’ own Scary Balance takes the stage at 11:30 am with a set of what they refer to as their “queer anarcho-crosby, stills, nash and young” music.

“I took a proposal to the Yellow Springs Brewery that first year,” remembers Stratton, “For basically what the festival would look like, how much it would cost, and I asked them if they would partner with me on it, and they did. So that’s how we started.” Since that first year, Stratton says other craft breweries have gotten involved with the festival, with Warped Wing and Madtree signing on as sponsors for this year’s event. Other local vendors and food trucks will be on hand for festival-goers as well.

When asked if Springsfest has any specific focus or goal in mind, Conor is quick to answer. “Absolutely yes,” he says. “And this applies to my company, as well. I’ve been a musician all my life. My vision has always been to create a platform where younger Ohio bands can get paired with some of the best national talent that there is and bring it to us, trying to bring it to those underdog areas that don’t always get these kinds of shows. I’ve always believed it’s completely possible—someone’s just got to do it. So far, that’s been the case. I’ve spent plenty of years as a professional and touring musician, and I’ve always admired not just what’s going on in the Dayton area, but all of Ohio’s talent that can unfortunately go unnoticed sometimes, even though we have tons of really amazing young talent.”

While children 12 and under get free admission to the festival, adults will need to purchase tickets, which are available on the festival’s website www.springsfestival.com. Residents of the village of Yellow Springs qualify for discount prices, and no refunds will be available—the event will be held come rain or come shine.

A perfect day of relaxation, entertainment, good music and good craft beer, Springsfest 2018 promises to be the best yet, and Stratton encourages everyone to come out and enjoy a great day in the sun. “I’ve always thought craft beer and great music go hand in hand together,” he says, in conclusion. “So we’ve created something where we’re offering the best of both.”

Springsfest 2018 will be held on Saturday. July 7, 2018 at the John Bryan Community Center, 100 Dayton Street in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The event will take place rain or shine. For more information or for tickets, go to www.springsfestival.com.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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