MOUNT VERNON — Area residents who enjoy music and good food — and have thoughts about how the Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival can improve moving forward — have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to make their ideas known.
That is the deadline to complete an online survey that can be found on Facebook by searching for the festival by name, or by clicking on the site: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DEFestival. Close to 500 respondents have filled out the survey so far, which uses an online platform called SurveyMonkey. This year’s festival in downtown Mount Vernon, is to be held Aug. 8-11; the survey is seeking input for the festival next year, and beyond.
The survey asks respondents to offer feedback under an overall theme of helping festival organizers “rebrand” the festival in future years. The survey’s forthcoming final results may indicate that a festival name change is favored by a majority of respondents — who may also make their feelings known on the best festival location in future years.
Before asking its 16 questions, most of which are open-ended, the survey states: “As we move to a new vision of our annual celebration of the arts in Mount Vernon, we are looking for community support in defining a vision that will reshape our current festival … We would like to know about your vision or concept of the Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival.”
As of early Friday evening, 478 people had completed a 79 percent response rate to the 16 questions, said Joe Rinehart, chair of the Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival Board of Trustees and an Operations Committee member. Overall, respondent feedback to date “has been positive and diplomatic, with very few snarky comments,” he said. Rinehart is helping organize and categorize the responses, working closely with festival co-directors Joe Bell and Trina Trainor to make sure all voices are heard.
“The biggest thing for us is, we want the community to know we’re listening,” Rinehart said, adding that open-ended questions where respondents can offer suggestions is much better for taking input than simple “yes/no” or “agree/disagree” questions.
The festival Board of Directors and its Operations Committee, which is meeting weekly, are building festival momentum with a collaborative approach, he said. As for the festival’s music lineup including the headliner, who will once again be popular country singer Lee Greenwood, Rinehart said the shows offered must be varied — country, rock and roll and other types of music – “so we don’t get stuck in one musical genre.” The popular mainstay group Phil Dirt and The Dozers will once again perform as they do each year, joined this time around by Madrigal and his odes to rock guitar legend Carlos Santana.
Of the 478 respondents as of Friday evening, Rinehart said there were interesting numbers based on how many survey takers answered each question:
•The highest response rate of 99 percent, representing 474 of 478 respondents, showed that nearly every respondent offered their general opinion of the festival.
•91 percent, or 436 respondents, answered a question asking their opinion about the headliner musical act.
•88 percent, or 419 respondents, answered a question related to their opinion of festival food offerings.
•359 respondents, or 75 percent, answered a multiple-choice question on how many days the festival should run, with answer options being 1 to 4 days. Currently the festival runs four days.
•340 respondents, or 71 percent, answered a question related to rebranding, including potential festival names that should be given consideration.
Rinehart said the survey results will begin to become categorized next week, and he added he anticipates a media event following where reporters can ask festival officials questions about the results. He also said an additional survey, building on the current survey, may be initiated in the fall.