Founder Dustin Meadows reflects on the final Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival

Dustin Meadows had attended and performed in comedy festivals in other cities, and knew his home scene in Columbus was ripe to host one. So he started it.

“I absolutely thought there needed to be [a comedy festival] in Columbus. As the scene has grown, it was the next step in its evolution,” Meadows said by phone a week before the fourth and final Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival he founded and has co-produced was to open. “The fact it's become something that people look forward to and that's going to be missed means it was the right idea.”

Personal and professional goals have Meadows planning a move to Los Angeles later this year, so he's shuttering the Whiskey Bear fest. The festival's four co-producers plan to launch a new festival next year.

“Nickey [Winkelman] came to me and asked if it was OK. It's never been territorial for me. I just want there to be quality shows. The city needs it, and it benefits the comics in the community,” Meadows said.

As for the final installment of Whiskey Bear, Meadows, who will perform and/or host six times during the festival, said he has no specific agenda or hopes.

“The goal every year has been to put on the best festival we can, and that's what we want this year, too,” Meadows said. “I just want people to walk away feeling like they were part of something cool.”