Saturday, August 29, 2015

Today is the finale of the Mount Saint Francis picnic. Coming next year: Mount Fest.

Grab your machete, hack through the full array of pop-ups, roll-overs and auto-play videos, and read about how the venerable Mount Saint Francis Picnic is no more ... after today's finale.

A festival featuring craft beer, wine and local restaurant fest could work just as well in the Knobs as anywhere else, and it's an under-served market in this regard. I admire the Mount's willingness to think outside the box.

That said, it will be a completely different festival model, both in terms of potential audience and the organizers themselves. Significantly, the current demand for the presence of local-anything at events like Mount Fest has increased exponentially, and truly, with so many models from which to choose, the phrase "devil's in the details" never has been more applicable.

Sales or sample driven?

Tastes of food, or meals?

If the Mount's going to do "craft", then they need to do it right, and I'm sure they want to do so. One thing the Mount indisputably has going for it is prime location. Ever since 1985 and my first visits to German and Austrian beer gardens, I've thought the Mount could be just like them.

Mount Saint Francis picnic going out in style, by Papa Morris (News and Tribune)

MOUNT SAINT FRANCIS — It started in the 1920s, was silent during the war years and resumed in 1971.

The Mount Saint Francis Picnic has been a mainstay in the area, and is usually the final event in the New Albany Deanery summer festival schedule.

But times have changed, and so have the crowds and interest in the picnic. Past generations couldn't wait for the final Saturday of August each year, but not so much with today's Millennials.

"The young kids don't seem to get as excited about it as the older generation," said Mount Saint Francis Director, Friar Robert B. Baxter, OFM Conv.

So with dwindling crowds and tired of battling the August heat, Baxter and others decided it was time for a change.

On June 4, 2016, Mount Fest will replace the annual picnic as a summer fundraiser. The event will feature jazz music, wine, microbreweries, food from local restaurants and other attractions like a raffle. It will last only six hours, instead of the 13 hours the picnic is open.

"We decided to go in a different direction," Baxter said. "We are having it earlier. The weather in August is just too hot. Who wants to eat hot chicken under a hot tent? I would go in the chapel and there would be parents in there with young children and elderly just trying to cool off. Hopefully it won't be as hot the first week of June."

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