HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (5/6/12) – Freud believed that unhappiness is part of human nature. Could part of that be due to our innate desire to evolve as a species? Is the unhappiness that is built into our nature what gives us the desire to constantly try to better our situation?
Some might say we live in a negative world. However, that doesn't mean that we have to allow that to run our thought processes. If you are unhappy in your shoes and where you stand, therein lays the quandary. What will you do about it?
By entertaining negative thought processes, is it possible that we influence our surroundings negatively? According to quantum mechanics there may be a lot of truth to that. Observer Theory ultimately proves that an observer alters what it observes, simply by observing it.
Allow me to then pose a question. Have we conditioned ourselves to think that Madisonville is less than it is, less than it can be? At the end of the day, who makes Madisonville what it is?
“I think ‘conditioning oneself to think the town they are from is less than what it is’ is not just exclusive to Madisonville,” explains Madisonville resident, Steve Hudgins. “This happens in every single town or city in the entire country, regardless of size or location. Especially, with younger people who are basically just wanting to experience something different.”
Cincinatti, OH resident, Mat Pentecost is originally from Madisonville. Mat is an artist. Over the course of the last month he has been compiling recordings and movies that he and his friends made together while growing up in Hopkins County. It was during this effort that he started to wish that he could showcase the art before him. He desired to impact the masses and draw out reactions, thoughts, feedback and shared moments as most artists do.
“I realized, it's been 13 years since I lived in Hopkins County,” said Mat. “So many things have changed, not just in Madisonville, but in the lives of my friends and myself. I wanted to celebrate the place I came from and the people who helped mold who I am. Some of the most talented and caring people I have ever known have come from Madisonville. I just feel that the city and the people in it should be celebrated. Madisonville is full of humorists, writers, actors, musicians, songwriters, visual artists, editors, producers, poets and all around lovers of the arts and popular culture. I want to show the younger generation that not only does the city have worth, but so do they.”
It was in that moment of reflection that Mat had the birth of an idea. He decided that the best way to celebrate the city of Madisonville and its people would be to create a festival, collectively. In this way, with everyone taking part in the project, each could take pride in their creation and help mold it.
It all started with an open group of about 15 people on Facebook and a single post by Mat. The post proposed the idea of a festival, some suggestions for what could be included, a few names of people he wanted to get involved in different venues of the festival and lastly, a couple questions.
“Who is in and do you think it's possible to rock ‘Mad-Vegas’ the way it's never been rocked before? If anyone has any other ideas or wants to invite people into this group discussion/project please do!”
Within an hour the group had expanded to over 200 people. Citizens were coming forward with a wealth of ideas and suggestions. It was an exciting display of the passion that the people in the city of Madisonville are capable of.
“My first thought was simply, ‘Wow,'” Mat said. “We are so blessed in America. Here we are using social media to plan and cultivate an arts festival, when entire countries of young people are using social media to overthrow dictatorships and start political revolutions, even if it means getting themselves killed in the process. I just had an overwhelming sense of humility, community and selflessness. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it really opened up my eyes to what we all may be able to accomplish if we pull together and use our resources to help one another.”
The Facebook group has continued to grow and Mat has been overwhelmed with continued support for the festival and its cause. Different people from the community have taken on different roles and have been assigned to different festival venues. Everyone involved is working together, in their own time, to get this project off the ground. All the while, group members and the Committee to Promote the Arts and Economic Vitality in Madisonville are updating each other on their progress and sharing information via social media to get the festival established.
The Committe to Promote the Arts and Economic Vitality in Madisonville was coined by Seth Owen and is the "inner circle" for those taking on bigger roles as far as planning is concerned. Upon reading Mat's initial post on Facebook, Seth was quick to provide a link to the Mayor's office and showed great concern for building upon Madisonville's economy even though none of Seth's family lives in town anymore.
The festival planning committee is hoping to host the yet-to-be named festival in spring of 2013 at the Madisonville City Park. The hope is that it will be a celebration of Madisonville and the people that live here through art, music and other local offerings from the city’s people.
“I've had a great outpour of ideas from everyone,” Mat stated.
The two-day festival will be host to live music from local musicians with hopes of having acoustic sets on the outdoor stage by the lake, and electric sets in the clubhouse at the back of the park. Madisonville will also be home to its very first film festival. It is being created to celebrate local filmmakers and production crews. As many agree within the group, it’s time to really put Madisonville and the surrounding area on display when it comes to local visual media. There are projects taking place all over Western Kentucky that most people aren’t even aware of.
The festival will be family oriented with special locations for kids to have fun. The festival planning committee has plans to set up an area with an inflatable bounce house and other children’s activities. The committee is also trying to get local food venders on board to host booths and share the local flavor of Madisonville. There will be booths set up for local artists, artisans and craft makers, not just to sell their wares, but to provide a visual arena to display them on for the community to enjoy. Overall, the events will allow us to see our local artists at work sharing their craft in a public forum.
The festival hopes to bring awareness to local talent in all forms, including amateur wrestling. The committee would like to see an amateur wrestling showcase of some kind at the Madisonville Armory during the span of the festival. The committee is also trying to come together to decide upon different events to include at the festival. Some of the ideas include poetry readings, stand-up comedy routines and live stunting showcases, all provided by local entertainers. In addition, the festival will provide another platform for local charities in town to bring more awareness to their causes, as well as drum up donations in the process. The group hopes to create something that can give back to the community in more ways than one.
Mat is still accepting ideas and trying to work through the logistics of every idea that comes his way. The festival planning committee hopes to include as many activities as they can, to really show Madisonville’s worth to the community.
The group believes that Madisonville, and the surrounding area, is worthy of our love and upkeep, as a community. The group agrees that there is still work to be done, but Madisonville is a wonderful place to live, great place to raise a family and an all-around beautiful city.
“Art lives here, because art lives everywhere there are people,” points out PJ Woodside, of the Facebook festival group. “I am attracted to places that embrace their fringe energies as much as they do their core inhabitants, places where intellectual curiosity is considered a good thing, where people are truly tolerant of a wide variety of perspectives, where they are not scared of something because it is new and different.”
Another Facebook festival group member, Christopher McDonald, shared his thoughts with SurfKY News. "Music, art and creativity shed light, color and life on what can seem like a pretty dull world. I think it's important to share these things with each other, the community and the younger generations so that we can find inspiration in each other. I've personally been inspired just by the idea of this festival."
"Simply put - Madisonville is a small market middle class city with marginal diversity considering the city's proximity to the nearest metro area," points out Kyle Menser, acting as liaison in regard to fundraising for the festival. "Coal mining is the major contribution of the area, and there is little for young people to do. Therefore, when left to their own devices, the youth turn to sports, arts, or drugs. Boredom has given birth to countless bands, ideas, art and performances. This festival is our opportunity to give young people something to look forward to, something to strive towards and, most importantly, a reason to believe that the creative kids that came before them still identify and care about the environment they are given to create in."
The people that live in Madisonville truly want to see Madisonville thrive. That has been evident in the weight of responses Mat has received. Interestingly enough, it isn’t just current residents that are interested in Madisonville’s success. People born in Madisonville, who are now living in different parts of the world, have sent in ideas and contact information the festival planning committee might consider helpful.
“I've had so many people of varying ages and backgrounds offering names of people to talk to, websites to check out, officials to contact,” Mat shared. “It blows my mind. If everyone can have patience and continue to share information, we can make this happen.”
If you would like to get involved in this endeavor, in any way, there are multiple ways you can help.
You can join the Facebook festival group by clicking here.
“One person said to me that if I don't pull this off, I will be forever shunned by Madisonville,” said Mat. “Well, the truth is, I can't pull it off. Not by myself.”
This is not a one man job and this is not a one man festival. If you would like to see this project come to fruition you are urged to contact Mat and enlist yourself to help in whatever way you would like. How can you help to encourage others to take pride in this city we call home?
It’s time to put positive energy out into the world - positive energy and a little effort.
Some photos provided by Jeff Harp of Focus Photography LLC
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