CAMDEN — During Camden Village Council’s meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4, council received updates from Camden Comeback’s Debbie Mason regarding the 2022 Black Walnut Festival.
“I just want to say a big public thank you to the superintendent of Preble Shawnee, Todd Bowling. They are going to take the buses down a different street, rather than Lafayette Street, that way we can bring people in at noon on Friday, and start setting up the vendors who want to come in at noon,” Mason began.
According to Mason, after 2021’s Black Walnut Festival, Camden sent out a survey to all of the vendors who attended with the intention of improving the production for 2022. The majority of vendor responses regarded late set up times and a lack of vendor parking. In response to these complaints, the Preble Shawnee School District has offered space behind the school for vendor parking, as well as assigning different bus routes for the morning.
“So far this year we have 88 vendors signed up for 111 spaces, out of about 150,” Mason continued. “We added about 10 spaces this year but we really don’t want to add too many.”
According to Mason, some vendors have declined attendance due to economic shortages, but in spite of this, the current numbers are still higher than the regular turn out for the festival by August.
“By Sept. 20, of last year, we had sold out of spots, and that was 115 vendors and 140 spots. So, we are less than 30 vendors away from what we had last year in September. So, at this point it looks pretty good,” Mason said.
“Of those 88 vendors, 30 of them are new. They’ve never been to the festival before.” Mason noted, she intends to reach out to vendors who declined their regular spaces one more time to offer them the chance to attend, as well as give returning vendors priority to the spaces available.
New for the Black Walnut Festival this year is a Kid Zone. “The Kid Zone will have everything related to the kid activities and family activities in one spot.” Mason proposed, the idea of a Kid Zone where face painting, petting zoo, barrel trains rides, and numerous other family friendly activities will take place will likely increase event attendance.
Mason also said the rubber chicken toss would be returning in Shank Park for the kids. “They love that! They don’t even care what they throw them into!” she said.
Mason also updated council on the car show which will take place during the festival, and informed council online registration has already begun for the event. Furthermore, Mason has arranged with the Preble County Historical Society to have the Washington automobile — the 100-year-old vehicle manufactured in Preble County, at the show.
Mason added, a beer garden will be located in Shank Park, and live entertainment will be headlined on Saturday by Jay Jesse Johnson, an American blues-rock guitarist, who has accrued some amount of fame in his genre.
“He’s from College Corner, but he started at 18, he traveled with Buddy Guy, he’s recorded like 20 albums. Anyone who is a blues person would know who he is,” commented Carla Risner, who was able to obtain sponsorship from TriHealth for his performance.
According to Mason, other events will include a baking contest, a royalty contest, and “the world-famous” Haunted Camden Tours.
Mason also publicly thanked the sponsors for the Black Walnut Festival, TriHealth and Silfex, and noted they are still accepting others for those interested in donating to the festival.
Vendors will be able to register for the 2023 Black Walnut Festival at the end of this year’s event.
Camden Village Council meetings are public meetings held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m. in Camden Town Hall.