The Swanton Corn Festival has a lot of entertainment planned for Saturday, Aug. 22. In addition to The Harley Packer Band, who will be playing in the beer tent Saturday night from 8 p.m. until midnight, there will be two other stages running entertainment all day long.
Stage One is located at the south side of the park next to the popular Swanton Rotary hamburger, brat and hot dog booth. Playing from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. will be classic rock performer, Johnny Rodriguez from Toledo.
In 1988, Rodriguez was one of Peeler Music store’s original guitar instructors. After teaching during the day, he utilized the help of fellow established local musicians to begin performing as a solo act in the evenings around the Toledo area. In 1990, Toledo Public Schools contracted Rodriguez to perform in the elementary schools, using his musical presentation to promote self-esteem for inner-city students.
While a Social Work Student at the University of Toledo, he redesigned his solo show to act as an early intervention program for children focusing on family struggles such as substance abuse. In 1992 the sales of a cassette version of Rodriguez’s original music “Glass City Lights” and “Cajun Food” raised over $1,500 solely for the Toledo Community Service Center, a local homeless dhelter, and also created the opportunity to perform the songs onstage at Toledo’s Savage Hall as an opening act for the world-renown Drifters.
Following Rodriquez, From 2:30 to 4 p.m. Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland take the stage. Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland is a 7-piece traditional Jazz band “sure to make you smile!”
Rick Grafing operated his own club, Ragtime Rick’s First Draught, for over 22 years in Toledo. After the popular landmark closed in 2003, he resumed his career as a ragtime performer, playing at concert halls, private parties, Jazz festivals, and senior citizen centers .
His son, John Grafing, at the time a trumpet student at the University of Toledo, and Ben Herrick, a UT and Swanton High School Graduate and trombone player, suggested that they form a “hot jass band.” The restaurant attire and aprons from the First Draught were recycled as band uniforms, and the Chefs of Dixieland were born.
Sadly, this will be the first time hometown musician Ben Herrick will not be playing with them in the Corn Festival. Herrick will be missing because after receiving his Masters Degree from CCM (Cincinnati Conservatory of Music) he has accepted a position at the College of Wooster as their marching band director.
Another Swanton graduate, however, will take the stage at 4:30 p.m. and will perform until 6:30 p.m. Brad Shreves describes himself this way: “I’m Slim. I sing songs. I share the stage with my ugly and unruly guitar. People say they like how I sing. I like to sing. I don’t do anything fancy; I pretty much just stand there and sing. There is no light show or fog machine. I don’t dance or get really crazy, but I can juggle or do a magic trick. I’m not much to look at, but I’m better looking than a jukebox. Sometimes I mumble when I talk, or sometimes my guitar forgets what song to play. Nobody seems to mind how I do things. I rock about as hard as one guy with a guitar can rock. I sing an assortment of songs by a bunch of different artists. You’ll like just about everything I play. I can probably play your favorite song or something like it.”
The last performer to play on Stage One is not new to the Swanton Corn Festival. Bob Wurst will be entertaining the crowds until 8:30 p.m. Wurst has been playing guitar and singing for over 50 years, and the last 45 have consisted of mostly Country music. Starting like most kids of the 60s, he was consumed with rock n’ roll, and played in various rock bands through high school, and trying to take his career higher after graduating, but his apprenticeship in plumbing and steam fitting put a stop to his full time dream of being a rock star.
Wurst states this about his career: “One of our earliest highlights was winning the 1972 Buck Lake Ranch Labor Day talent contest. In 1982 we competed in the Wrangler Country Star Search, winning the State of Ohio division and going on to the Grand Ole Opry to compete. In 1987, I competed alone in the Mr. Country Music America contest, and again, winning the State of Ohio division, I went on to the Opry in ’88. The “Lake Erie West People’s Choice Awards” in ’96 and ’97 netted me the “Country” award, and in ’98 I won the Country division as well as Male Vocalist of the year category. Then in ’99 I was awarded the top award of “Entertainer of the Year”.”
Stage Two is located on the north side of the park by the volleyball courts and is geared a bit more for the younger crowd. Entertainment will begin with the Swanton High School Cheerleaders immediately after the parade.
At 1:30 p.m. “Georgia Peach” will take over and Swanton’s Got Talent will begin. At 3:30 p.m. there will be a superhero ‘Meet and Greet” where one can get pictures taken with their favorite superhero and take a tour of a fire truck. At 4:30 p.m. the popular Minute to Win game will begin.
Ending the entertainment on Stage 2 from 5 to 8 p.m., the park will get rocking to the sounds of MOJO PIN playing classic rock of the 70s to modern alt-rock. Out of the four member band, three of them are from Swanton, Matt Poca (vocals), Matt Gring (bass guitar) and Chris Hallett (drums). John Fejes (guitar) calls The Point home. High energy guitar driven rock and roll is what the Pin is all about.
The Swanton Corn Festival Committee would also like to remind readers that the deadline for entries into the Corn Art Booth is Saturday, Aug. 15. An entry form is available online at Swantoncornfest.com.
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