RUSHVILLE: Build It and They Will Come
Rushville, Indiana (Pop. 6,341)
After attending a music festival in a neighboring community, then city councilman (now Rushville mayor) Mike Pavey asked, “Why can’t we do that in Rushville?” In less than six months, Pavey and other Rushville residents mobilized Rushville city government, businesses and residents to build an outdoor amphitheater and host a summer series of concerts. Since the first concert in the summer of 2005, the amphitheater has hosted more than 65,450 concert-goers at 57 concerts featuring a diverse line-up of local, regional, national and international performers, including John Waite and The Georgia Satellites. This year, Rushville will host the 80’s power pop/new wave band “The Romantics.”
Rushville went from concept to implementation in six months, which begs the question, “how did they do it?” Location was an important factor, and Rushville had the perfect place. Riverside Park has a colorful history of providing racing entertainment – from horse and pony to dirt-track automobiles – for Rush County residents, out-of-town visitors and even famed 3-time Indy 500 winner Walter Shaw. With the land secure, the Riverside Park Organizing Committee (RPOC) was formed to secure time, resources and commitment from local residents and businesses to make the amphitheater a reality.
One of the biggest concerns was money – city coffers were limited and skepticism was high. Through perseverance and dedication, RPOC members ignited a vision that caught flame throughout the community. Committee members designed the amphitheater as a replica of the South Main Street Covered Bridge, which had been located nearby. Emerald Group Construction supervised and oversaw the assembly at no cost. Local businesses donated money and labor. Individual Rushville residents picked up hammers and went to work. These efforts resulted in minimal taxpayer dollars being spent. The crew was united by the mantra, “Build it and they will come.”
And come they have. In addition to thousands of concert-goers each summer, the amphitheater has drawn a variety of individual and business sponsors who help to keep the series free. Vendors provide refreshments and a beer-garden for the over 21 crowd. The amphitheater also is home to other events such as wedding receptions, class reunions, car shows and non-profit fundraisers. The success of the facility has led to further development of Riverside Park, including a haunted hayride and new walking trails that support Rush County’s wellness efforts.
Today, the Riverside Park Organizing Committee continues to “stimulate, promote, preserve and expand social, historic, cultural and economic well-being through music and arts” in Rushville. The success of this project has bred further volunteerism and pride in the community, and the number of sponsors and supporters continues to grow. Rushville has demonstrated what passion, dedication and collaboration can accomplish in an Indiana town.
For more information about the Rushville Amphitheater, visit the Facebook page or contact Carolyn Bunzendahl, Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation. Additional best practice resources can be found on Ball State’s Primacy of Place website.
Be sure to check out the 2014 Riverside Park Amphitheater Concert Series:
Saturday, June 21: Dirty Deeds – Extreme AC/DC
Saturday, June 28: Indiana Legend – Carl Storie
Saturday, July 12: Southern Country
Saturday, July 26: The Purple Xperience (featuring Doctor Fink of Prince and The Revolution)
Saturday, August 2: Satisfaction (The International Rolling Stones Show)
Saturday, August 16: The Romantics
Saturday, September 20: The RAILERS