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New leadership sought for music festival

As the Rolling River Music Festival celebrates a successful 10-year run on July 21, the music event's founders and sponsors are preparing to hand it off to new leadership.

Community response to the free, outdoor event and the venue they helped to create has exceeded their expectations in every respect, according to Scott and Anne Jones of the Jones Family Foundation.

On July 4, 2009, the new Central Park Bandshell made its debut in the renovated park with vocalist Roseanne Cash and the Sheldon Brass Band playing the "1812 Overture" complete with cannons (on top of the Citizens Building) and church bells.

Scott Jones credited Bill Foot with coordinating that event. "It really was a magnificent start" to what became known as "Red Wing's living room." Police estimated a crowd of more than 2,000 people.

Since then, Jones said, "It's beyond anything we expected" The park and bandshell are used for all sorts of activities, from weddings and concerts to arts gatherings, school events, church services and other gatherings. "We really thank the community," he added.

The Sheldon Theatre has always been the partner who assisted in securing the entertainment, and Jones cited a list of others who make the Rolling River Music Festival a community-wide event:

Red Wing Shoe Co., Jones Family Foundation, Lawrence Transportation, the Hedin family, Wilson Oil, Sturdiwheat, Red Wing Construction, Anderson Center, Edward Jones, Indigo Properties, Gary and Pam Alvord, Paul Tollison State Farm, Nybo Caldwell Banker, Syverson Truck Center, Automated Equipment, Merchants Bank, Red Wing Chevrolet, First Farmers & Merchants Bank, and Missy Donkers.

With their support, the concert has remained a free, family-friendly event.

Three years ago, Jones said, the sponsors all agreed to create a reserve fund so that the 10th annual festival would be "more special" in terms of national talent.

In observance of the anniversary, the Jones Family Foundation also made a new investment in Central Park — lighting in the trees and the limestone structures including turrets on the side of the band shell.

"The 10th is the perfect time for us to hand off the Rolling River Music Festival to a younger group of people," said Jones, chairman of the foundation. The sponsors are hopeful that it has enough traction to continue, perhaps with a combination of entities involved.

They hope someone will come forward, keep the name and logos if they want, and keep the festival ... rolling.

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