Washboard Music Festival Celebrates Culture of Logan, Ohio

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Local residents and tourists from across the nation will converge on Logan to celebrate all things washboard in the 14th Annual Washboard Music Festival this week, June 12–14.

Streets will close and laundry will be strung between light posts. Artisans and food vendors will set up shop along Main and Market streets. Children will hop on amusement rides and a take a ride on the Washboard Music Festival train.

On Thursday afternoon, Pastor Steve Hubbard of Ebenezer Baptist Church will start ceremonies with prayer. After the singing of the National Anthem, a welcome from Logan City Mayor Martin Irvine and an introduction, the music will be begin.

Columbus-area entertainer Arnett Howard, accompanied by his band, will kick off the festival entertainment Thursday evening. Howard plays various styles, including Creole, New Orleans and jazz. In addition to performing, Howard works with students in central Ohio.

“It is my legacy to inspire children to play instruments early in their lives,” he states on his website, Arnett Howard and Friends, his band’s name, is no stranger to the WMF.

“Wonderful entertainer. He’s got a great group,” said Dennis Heebink, festival organizer.

Between the band’s dual performances, Ottie Opperman and Arnett Howard will run the annual auction from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Among the donated items up for bid are four Ohio State University football tickets, overnight stays at local cabins, locally made arts and crafts, and a table at the Amy Grant show at this year’s Lancaster Festival.

“We’ve got a lot of good stuff,” Heebink said. Auction proceeds help to pay for the festival.

Howard’s band will continue at 8 p.m. and will wrap up the first night of the festival about 10 p.m.

This year, several performers hail from Columbus. Other groups come from as far as Canada. Music will include a menagerie of instruments and styles.

Friday entertainment (Main Stage)

The Main Stage schedule for Friday will start at 2 p.m., with the Hobos Polka Band opening. The band combines music with comedy and utilizes unique instruments. The group will reappear onstage at 4 p.m.

The Juggernaut Jug Band and Washboard Players, from Louisville, Ky., will take the stage at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. To their stringed instruments, they add washboards and washtubs, kazoos and jugs.

At 5 p.m., the World Famous Festival Kazoo Band will perform, followed by the Steel City Rovers, a Celtic band from Ontario, Canada, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The Jack, a rock ‘n’ roll band based in Central Ohio, will finish Friday’s show with performances at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Saturday entertainment (Main Stage)

Saturday’s Main Stage lineup will begin at 12:30 p.m., with an official flag disposal ceremony by American Legion Post 78 scheduled for 11:45 a.m. in Worthington Park.

At 1:15 p.m., the Fun Bunch Cloggers will perform.

The Jake Leg Stompers, from Tennessee, will play at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. “Chicken-fried, Pre-war, Hokum-billy Jug Music!” exclaims their Facebook page self-description. They play lively, pre-World War II music.

The Steel City Rovers will again share their Celtic tunes again at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and will play the final show at 10 p.m.

The Juggernaut Jug Band and Washboard Players will follow at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Other entertainment

Two other stages — one on the east end of Main Street and one on the west end, will offer entertainment starting at 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Kaye Wade & Friends will perform at the east-end stage at 1 p.m. and at the west-end at 2 p.m. on Friday. They will lead a kazoo band on the main stage with participants from the audience at 5 p.m. Friday. Wade is a comedy singer, stunt lady and actress. Her husband, Chuck Hicks, a stuntman and actor, will be part of the show. Bob Adams, banjo player from the Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band, will accompany.

Also performing will be Sister Jean & Kenan. Sister Jean plays ragtime piano, and her grandson, Kenan, plays washboard.

From Southeast Ohio, the Sodbusters – Dan Daly, John Victor and Mark Lewis – play an array of music, from country to classic rock.

Sweet Funk, made up of band members Dana and Hank Gruber, from Milford, play guitar and dulcimer.

Buckles and Boots will also perform. On their website, members Brian and Jessica Maxwell describe their music as “Driving Gypsi Folk: a rugged, primal, stripped down musical exploration of the full range of human emotion.” They write songs and perform with banjo, guitar and percussion.

Ira Twang will play his banjo.

Bill Bailey is a return performer at the WMF. He specializes in percussion (spoons, washboards, hambones, congas, instruments from other cultures and everyday objects) and will play during the Columbus Washboard Factory open house.

The Lone Raven Trio, Celtic musicians from Columbus, will also perform.

Beyond the bands, the festival will feature an auction (7 to 8 p.m. Thursday), a car show on Gallagher Avenue across from the Columbus Washboard Company factory (5 to 9 p.m. Friday), an antique tractor show and hit ‘n’ miss engines exhibit in the Hocking County Courthouse parking lot, (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday), a Buckeye Mobile Tour (2 to 6 p.m. Saturday), a Hocking Valley Quilt Guild quilt show at The Bowen House (noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday), tours of the Columbus Washboard Company factory (9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday) and a children’s park.

The massive children’s park will offer everything from free amusement rides to balloons. Granpa Cratchet, a puppeteer, will perform his Granpa Cratchet Show at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and again at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Cratchet dresses as a puppet and drives around in his Granpa Mobile. Gordon Russ will perform a magic show at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Chris the Balloon Guy will be in Worthington Park from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The food court fills one block of Market Street near the gazebo area, from Main Street to Second Street. More vendors will provide food on Spring Street. Crafts will be sold on Main Street, between Mulberry Street and The Citizens Bank.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, a parade will march down Main Street. The parade is dedicated to soldiers. All medal recipients of Hocking County will be honored, and any who wish may ride on a grand marshal float in the parade. Participants will gather at the Logan Clay Brickyard on South Culver Street before 5:15 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, the Columbus Washboard Company will offer tours of its factory. Live music will color the open house, and a vendor will sell soap.

“It’s just pandemonium in here. It’s great,”said James Martin, owner of the Columbus Washboard Company.

Friday’s car show, sponsored by Whiskers Animal Welfare and Education, Inc., will park itself in the grass across the street from the factory.

On Saturday, a motorcycle cruise-in will stop in front of the factory and park in the street.

James Martin, owner of the Columbus Washboard Company, said that washboards have made a comeback in recent years. They faded from use in the 1970s, but have been rediscovered recently by people prepping laundry in their basements and by primitive campers.

Although machines have pushed washboards out of the main laundering process, washboards still come in handy today. After all, Martin noted that scrubbing clothes on a board for a few seconds before tossing them into a machine beats standing at a sink rubbing the fabric together.

Jacqueline Barnett, of Logan, caught the idea of a washboard musical festival while at a jazz festival in California. She saw washboards used for music. Back home, she gathered a group of friends, including Dennis and Susan Heebink, and started the festival.

Although the festival has grown over the years, “it’s still a really cool hometown, local event,” Heebink said. “It hasn’t outgrown itself.”

When he sees people standing in front of the main stage, smiling and tapping their toes, he knows they are no longer thinking about their problems. “That’s a nice break for the whole community.”

The festival attracts tourism, as visitors stay in area cabins and eat in local restaurants. Sign-in sheets from the CWC factory and The Bowen House open houses have shown tourists from California, the Carolinas, Chicago and “all over.”

“I think it’s a one-of-a-kind event,” Heebink said.

The festival is partially funded by grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Heebink also noted the generosity of businesses, service organizations, individuals and volunteers. He acknowledged the small committee who does a lot of things.