The 8th Annual LAAFF, or Lex Fest, is coming up one week from today on September 6 from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville. Usually I highlight specific people as “Pollinators,” but as I sat and talked with Erin Scholze, I realized that there are so many people and business involved that the entire festival is a Pollinator.
A Bit of History (or Herstory, as it were)
LAAFF was the brainchild of Miss Kitty Love and tall bike freak, Michael Mooney. In 2001, in order to celebrate their gallery and the downtown culture and businesses, they wanted to have an art car parade. Instead they decided to have a festival. Alexis Gault (former Rebelle’s and now Lush Life Designs) had already started Arts2People and wanted to partner. And, LAAFF was born under the umbrella of Arts2People in 2001. Rebecca Hecht, Adorn Salon, has organized the arts vendors since year one.
2002: enter Erin Scholze. As a caretaker for Kitty’s son, Erin caught the LAAFF bug and started organizing the music for the festival. Graham Hackett (Catalyst Poetix and Poetix Vanguard) and Alexis Gault partnered with Erin in helping to program the festival. Alexis and Graham both moved on to their own personal projects, and Erin has become a major face for LAAFF focusing on music and public relations.
2004: enter Brad and Elizabeth Reichardt, owners of BoBo Gallery. Brad, an original Burning Man visionary, wanted to be involved and expand the festival, and schedules the BoBo stage outside of the venue.
2006: LAAFF focuses on greening the festival. Long-term volunteer, Aaron Johnston, organizes with local organizations to make sure their are options for compost and recycling. They ask vendors to use Jack’s Boxes.
NEW For 2009
New LAAFF DIRECTOR: Kitty Love steps down as director to focus on Arts2People to connect with arts organizations in town around an Artist Resource Center. Frank Bloom, former music committee member, is hired as the new director of LAAFF.
LA ZOOM TOURS: Jim and Jen Lauzon made art cars for LAAFF and recently have built their most extravagant art “car” yet, a huge rococo-style purple performance bus, La Zoom. This year, LaZoom is also going to be a performance space for LAAFF. They are doing bus rides around town with live entertainment.
ASHEVILLE BREWERS ALLIANCE: Long-term partner, French Broad Brewing Company, extended an invitation to the newly formed Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (Beer City USA Y’all!) to partner with the festival. Multiple local brews will be available at LAAFF this year.
WALNUT STAGE: The stage at Walnut is now located in the parking lot at the corner of Lexington and Walnut.
And, every year more and more businesses and Lexington Ave. spaces want to be a part of the festival and have built it into the largest independent street festival in Asheville, and perhaps in Western North Carolina. LAAFF now draws about 12,000 people.
The other most important part of LAAFF are the volunteers. Interested in volunteering? They still need help. Email Justin Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org
And, the sponsors and partners…LAAFF wishes to thank Greenlife Grocery and Mountain Xpress, in particular, and all the other local sponsors.
Other Pollinators involved with LAAFF
LEAF in Schools & Streets, LaZoom Tours, Barley’s Taproom, French Broad Brewery, Jenny Greer of Soundmind Media, Andrew Usher, Stewart Sound, Charles Mooney, Tristan and Jackson, Bob Robertson of Mountain Roots Management, Aslan Roshon of RALAK Fest, Bill Mesmer, Arts2People Board of Directors, Honey Pot, Asheville Mural Project Artists, Phil Cheney of Cheney Graphics, Asheville Downtown Association, Margaret Lauzon of Villasonica, Christina Aurea, Jay Sanders of Sum Networks, Earthfare, The Orange Peel, WNC Magazine, WNCW, vendors, all performers and volunteers who have generously donated their time.
Erin and I sat at Earthfare and brainstormed this great pollination, but we are sure that we missed many who have helped. Please use the comment section to let us know how you’ve contributed to LAAFF!
See who’s playing this year.
Look in this week’s Mountain Xpress for further information and schedule or go to LAAFF’s new website.
Read Full Post »