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Railroad Fest rocks Ruston

May 30, 2017

 

Shreveport-based rock band The Seratones played the last set of the inaugural Makers and Music festival. – Photo by Ashley Kober

Bryn Young
Staff Reporter | bjy001@ latech.edu

 

Ruston was treated to a plethora of culture as the inaugural Railroad Festival brought local musicians, artisans and chefs together to showcase the art and food that makes Louisiana and Ruston unique.

 

The festival was kicked off by The Chug 5K race at Lincoln Parish Park at 8 a.m. April 8. The race was a coordination effort between Railroad Festival and the Ruston High School Cross Country team with proceeds going to the team.

 

Railroad Fest continued with the Maker’s Fair starting at 10 a.m. with artists, food trucks and creators sharing their creations at the Historic Fire Station in Downtown Ruston.

 

Cydney Smith, owner of Smallish Things, crochets various items from scarves to cup cozies in a myriad of colors and patterns. Smith said the Maker’s Fair helped creators like her get attention for their businesses and crafts.

 

“It’s going to be really good to get my name out there,” Smith said. “I thought about trying something like Etsy first. But I wanted to do a craft fair so I’d have a lot of local people interested.”

 

The crafts were paired with music as well, as both the Louisiana Tech Jazz Ensemble and Ruston-based band, Hank Dammit, performed at the Historic Fire Station in prelude to the concerts at Railroad Park at 3 p.m.

 

The music rolled onward with a mix of genres and sounds from rock, jazz, soul and more.

 

The concerts featured bands from all over the South including J.A.M. Brass Band from New Orleans, Supernaturals from Monroe, Goofy Boots of Greenville, Mississippi, and headliners Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey and The Seratones from Monroe and Shreveport, respectively.

 

Rosalynne Love sold t-shirts and coffee mugs that featured her original designs during the Maker’s Fair. – Photo by Victoria Arnold

The Railroad Festival is the creation of Ruston resident Josh Mitchell, who started the Ruston Maker’s Fair in the fall of 2015 and hosted the event twice more in 2016. Mitchell said the success of those events urged him to bring together a large event to help better portray the culture and community of Ruston.

 

“I started Ruston Maker’s Fair in 2015 and it was a pretty successful event right off the bat,” Mitchell said. “I decided I wanted to do it again. So, I did it again in spring of 2016. Then decided to do it biannually, and did it again in fall 2016. And then, what I really saw was we were kind of showcasing the arts but weren’t really getting into the whole culture scene. So I started developing what’s going on today, Railroad Festival.”

 

Mitchell said he was also inspired by both the need to provide a cultural outlet and fill a need he saw in his hometown for something bigger to do, and eventually that vision came to fruition in the Railroad Festival

 

“The festival kind of just took off,” Mitchell said. “I started contacting different people. I’ve been working with the city, the mayor’s office and a lot of people over in their camp and just developing Railroad Festival.”

 

Mitchell said the idea that started with the Ruston Maker’s Fair in 2015 came together as hoped. However, he is looking to improve and expand the festival, even after its success.

 

“To be honest, this, what has happened today, was my vision when I started Ruston Maker’s Fair,” Mitchell said. “Of course I want to expand this, but more so just quality. This has been the first time I’ve done the whole music and arts festival, so it’s a new thing to me. I’m probably gonna sit down and decompress — let everything run through my mind and for next time figure out what needs to work better.”

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