Celebrate Griffith’s new downtown at Rock N’ Rail fest

2011-08-24T00:00:00Z Celebrate Griffith’s new downtown at Rock N’ Rail fest nwitimes.com
August 24, 2011 12:00 am

In 2009 Griffith began celebrating the town's historic ties to railroads with a street festival that continues to grow and has become a popular regional event.

This year's Rock N' Rail Street Festival comes to the newly reconstructed Broad Street over the Labor Day weekend from Sept. 2 to 4.

Celebrated in the 100 and 200 blocks of Broad Street, the festivities begin at 4 p.m. Friday with more food vendors than ever before, a beer garden and non-stop music. The festival runs until midnight Friday; from 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and from 1 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.

A car show at 5 p.m. Friday officially kicks off the celebration. In addition to live music and food, the 2011 festival features arts and crafts, a beer garden and giant inflatable playhouses and face painting for the younger set.

"We will have over 20 bands and a huge main stage. This is a music festival that no other small town around us even comes close to touching," says Richard Cowan, the chairman of Griffith Revitalization Committee and originator of the Rock N' Rail festival.

"My goal in initiating Rock n Rail three years ago was to bring a strong sense of community back to the downtown by involving both the merchants and the residents," Cowan says.

That rockin' success caught the attention of the State of Indiana and the Rock N' Rail Street Festival won the Indiana Main Street Downtown Special Event Award. On Nov. 13, 2009, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman presented the Griffith Downtown Revitalization Committee the award during a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse.

Rock N' Rail also "highlights our hard work in becoming recognized as an Indiana Main Street Community," Cowan says.

With the site of the festival less than two blocks from bicycle trails, special accommodations for cyclists will be available. The Calumet Citizens for Connecting Communities will provide space where people can check in and store their bicycles while they attend the street festival.

Grifith Town Council member Rick Ryfa says the festival not only brings people to the downtown district, but the proceeds also benefit its revitalization.

"All proceeds the town receives from the festival are put back into the community and used for downtown beautification projects," Ryfa says.

In fact, Cowan says, this festival will be the town's first chance to "show off the new look of downtown Griffith, showcasing the street scaping, new building facades and, of course, the new road."

Rock N' Rail is just one of the community events the Town of Griffith hosts for residents and visitors alike.

Others include A Park Full of Art, St. Mary Parish Western Days Festival, the South Shore Summer Music Festival and the Annual Fall Harvest Craft Festival hosted by the Griffith Boy Scout Troop 264.

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