A music festival in Chillicothe? Hey, why not! After all, Nelsonville Music Festival started out tiny in an obscure Ohio town, and look at it now — Willie Nelson, Wilco and the Flaming Lips are among its alumni.
Chillicothe’s Paper City Music Festival isn’t anywhere near that echelon yet, but this weekend’s fourth installment brings intriguing mix of national, regional and local talent to Paint Creek Rental, a campground just over an hour south of Downtown Columbus. Organizers Marc Secoy and Dennis Foreman of Your Town Entertainment have been on their grind.
“We got the team of people helping out, but it really comes down to two people doing and managing everything,” Secoy said. “We’re just trying to build something cool and bring in smething to our hometown, which is a smaller market, which is always a challenge.
Paper City started as Foreman’s birthday bash three years ago, a modest affair featuring his band The Lewis Brothers and some buddies. Last year, when Secoy came on board, the festival got a business plan complete with sponsors and rising underground bands. The goal is to catch talent on the rise, which includes Kopecky Family Band, Bad Cop, The Hunts and many more this year.
“Our main approach right now is honestly bringing in high-quality independent acts that people are probably not familiar with, but they know with the Paper City name that it’s gonna be a kickass band,” Secoy said. “We sort of hope that we can’t afford them the following year.”
Although most of the performers hail from outside Ohio, the lineup also includes Columbus acts Forest and the Evergreens, Alert New London, St. Lenox and Bohno. No matter where they’re from, Chillicothe is a bit of a new frontier for most bands; that’s part of Paper City’s pitch to lure bands off the usual tour circuit.
“When we bring someone here,” Secoy said, “we’re usually hand-feeding them a brand new audience.
As for attracting that audience, the appeal is similar: a super-chill vibe and an array of new sounds to sample. Just be sure to get a camping pass (it’s free with a weekend pass); Secoy said most Chillicothe hotel rooms are booked with rodeo fans and Harley riders this weekend thanks to the Easyriders Rodeo Tour and Motorcycle Rally.