Organizers look forward to next year's James Brown Music Festival

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

For the past few months, the James Brown Music Festival has stirred controversy...and that's something festival planners hope to prevent next year.

News 12's Stephanie Baker talked to planners about how to make next year's festival run smoothly.

There were lots of bumps in the road...like the question of who would perform, a lower than expected turnout, and a last minute altercation with the sheriff's department. We talked to commissioners and organizers about how they planned to improve next year's festival.

Months of planning and uncertainty all came down to one weekend...and planners did not draw the crowds they expected.

Resident Christy Borders did not attend the festival. "Bad planning, too much misinformation...so we just didn't waste our money on a ticket," she says.

Festival chairman Champ Walker says that "misinformation" caused some sponsors to back out, leaving the festival without much-needed funding.

"This is a personal vendetta against Champ Walker...and it should not have been," he says.

Walker says he plans to hire a public relations firm and an attorney for next year's festival.

"It takes a lot of people, a lot of committee heads...and you got to have people with experience for sure."

Commissioner Joe Bowles adds that working out all the details takes time: "An event of that magnitude over three days with that many acts can take a lot of planning."

Walker says the planning for next year started the day this year's festival ended.

Commissioner Bowles says that while the budget deficit could keep the city out of details like planning, funding, and security, they can encourage the crowds.

"You could easily have ten to fifteen thousand people downtown each day...and that would fill up hotels and businesses downtown," he says.

Walker's worry for next year is what he calls negative press. But if all the planners can get a solid game plan well in advance, more people like Christy Borders may buy tickets.

"I definitely would," Borders says. "If it was better planned, I would."

A representative from Mayor Deke Copenhaver's office says they are planning a meeting with the festival planners to talk about next year.

Another problem was an altercation between Champ Walker and the Sheriff's Department over payment.

Next year, payment for the sheriff's department may be left completely to event planners because of the city budget.

Champ Walker says he plans to get help from a different county.


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