Section: Arts

Ohiolina music festival leaves Mount Vernon, goes on hiatus

Ohiolina, an annual bluegrass, rock and country music festival hosted in Mount Vernon, is officially canceled this year for “logistical challenges.” The festival was founded in 2013 with the purpose of celebrating the rich music scenes of Ohio and North Carolina (hence the name Ohio-lina.) Since its founding, Ohiolina has been held every fall in Mount Vernon’s Ariel Foundation Park, a historic and scenic open-air pavilion — that is, until this year.

Ohiolina’s official website released a statement in June explaining this year’s mysterious hiatus: “In 2018, a series of logistical challenges have collided, forcing an Ohiolina hiatus for the year. We plan to return in the coming year with the same great music and family-friendly atmosphere we’ve fostered every season — most likely in a new location!”

The festival used to last for one weekend. Aside from folk, rock, Americana and bluegrass acts, Ohiolina was also a great place for food, drink and fair activities. The festival hosted yoga classes as well as arts and crafts stations.

Some of the biggest names to headline the festival were Nikki Lane and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. These artists are immediately distinguished by their bluesy and folksy sounds — with fiddles, banjoes, and harmonicas ringing throughout their songs.

Kenyon was one of Ohiolina’s biggest partners and sponsors. Many students were disappointed upon hearing that this year’s festival would be canceled.

One student, Che Pieper ’21, attended Ohiolina in 2017 and was intending on going again this year. “It was a pretty cool place,” he said. “Lots of fair food, a central stage with folk music going, some small activities and stuff for kids. I went with a group of friends and we got food and hung out in the grass nearby … I didn’t have any definite plans but I was considering going again.”

Ohiolina was originally founded by Chris and Sarah Koenig, a married couple in Columbus, Ohio who wanted to highlight the rich bluegrass-country music of Ohio and North Carolina. The Koenigs originally chose Mount Vernon as a venue for their project; it was exactly what they wanted.

“Mount Vernon had everything we needed: a farm-like setting, a supportive town, a good space, a reasonable driving distance from Columbus and physical proximity to Kenyon,” she said.

However, as Ohiolina grows, the Koenings want to take the festival in a new direction that no longer aligns with Mount Vernon’s vision for the festival.

“Mount Vernon was great for us,” Sarah Koenig said. “We depended a lot on the community. But we wanted Ohiolina to be more than just a music festival. We want to shine a spotlight on the arts as well as the rich history of the area. Moving the venue from Mount Vernon is a business decision that will suit everybody.”

Sarah Koenig said the new location has not yet been determined, but Kenyon students should not be worried — Ohiolina will stay close to its origins. “We don’t intend to go very far from Mount Vernon,” she said.

Despite the temporary hiatus, Sarah Koenig assures that Ohiolina will return stronger than ever: “Kenyon students should keep an eye out,” she said. “The future is bright.”


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