Arts fest, Grounds named best in state PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 10 January 2014 11:00
File photo. Large crowds are seen along Main Street during last year's 21st annual Black Swamp Arts Festival. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Ohio Magazine has gotten the new year off to a good start for two Bowling Green institutions.
In its January Best of Ohio edition, the magazine names the Black Swamp Arts Festival the best arts festival in the state, and Grounds for Thought, the best coffee shop. The honors are determined by a readers poll.
The designation is timely for the downtown shop. It celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2014.
“It was a great and pleasant surprise,” said Kelly Wicks, who operates the shop with his wife, Laura Wicks. He learned of the honor late last year.
He said the shop has already seen an uptick on its website and Twitter account.
The magazine calls the shop: “A place to drink hand-roasted coffee, socialize, listen to live music and eat tasty pastries would be enough. But Bowling Green’s 7,000-square-foot Grounds for Thought is also a sprawling used book store (it stocks vinyl records and comic books, too).”
“We’ll work hard to live up to this hype,” Wicks said.
He hopes that the article attracts visitors from the region who are curious about coffee shops and independent businesses.
“It is the customers that help define the shop,” Wicks said. The knitters, the chess players, the book discussion groups and others “add their own creativity to make the shop what it is.”
Wicks also plays a role as a founding member of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. As chairman of the performing arts committee, he often hosts festival acts as part of the shop’s concert series.
Roger Shope, the chairman of the volunteer committee that stages the annual festival, said the honor “was a recognition of the volunteerism the community and the support we get from the City of Bowling Green.”
The recognition says much about the “coming of age” for the event first staged in 1993.
“This statewide recognition is only going to help encourage people to stop in Bowling Green for the arts festival,” Shope said.
People from throughout the state already visit. He said that information shared by those circulating petitions to get a Marriage Equality measure on the ballot said they had signatures from people from 48 counties.
The Ohio Magazine article may help expand that further, Shope said.
The festival held annually the weekend after Labor Day includes art shows featuring more than 200 artists, performances by an international cast of performers, and a youth art area offering dozens of activities. In 2014 the festival will run Sept. 5, 6 and 7.
Shope said this year the festival is looking to further enhance its social media presence, including revamping its website.
Being named the best in Ohio will give the festival one more thing to brag about on those platforms.

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