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Roverfest's future is in question

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After three successful Roverfests at Black River Landing in Lorain, the future of the popular event, which features the host of WMMS-FM 100.7 morning show “Rover’s Morning Glory,” appears uncertain not only for a Lorain date but to return at all.

Rover — real name Shane French — who has been on the Cleveland airwaves since 2003, said there are numerous factors at play, including a scheduling conflict. He puts the odds at 50/50 that the concert takes place this summer.

“We coordinate with Live Nation and other people every year to try to stay out of the way of each other,” French said. “There are only a certain number of people within the area that are going to pay money to come out to shows, so we try not to do them at the same time.

“We’re taking a look at various dates and locations to see how we might proceed. In Lorain, it’s tough because they pretty much book every single weekend for these (‘Rockin’ on the River’) cover bands. We fully intended to do ‘Roverfest’ on July 15, but when you’re looking at one day, it makes it difficult to adjust.”

The Northeast Ohio summer concert calendar is packed. That weekend, in particular, may be the biggest of the year with performances scheduled by Billy Joel on July 14 and Luke Bryan on July 15 at Progressive Field.

Lorain Port Authority Executive Director Thomas Brown said he’s trying to find a solution to keep the event.

“We’ve had a very successful partnership with Rover,” Brown said. “We’d love to have him back. Everybody was nervous the first year we hosted Roverfest. Then they thought it was a fluke that we got it done once. Well, we got it done again, and then again. So, if we can have them, we absolutely would have them.”

In terms of economic impact for downtown Lorain, Brown said upward of 20,000 attendees last year brought an economic bounce. Looking ahead, Black River Landing’s schedule includes 20 “Rockin’ on the River” dates, as well as the Lorain International Festival, Brewfest and the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament.

“Our calendar is just about booked out,” Brown said. “What we’re looking for now are smaller events on weekends or weeknights, just different things to get people down to the riverfront to enjoy our site.”

While some may question why Roverfest doesn’t move into a larger venue like Blossom Music Center, Rover said it’s not that easy.

“Blossom is just a different atmosphere,” French said. “There’s more seating, and we like open space. And there are various contracts that you have at venues like that sort of work into the financial gameplan to do an event as large as Roverfest.

“You sort of need those revenue streams in order to make everything work financially. So, it doesn’t become financially feasible.”

The other factor for French is the morning show is expanding into a handful of new markets, meaning “Rover’s Morning Glory” will soon be heard in a dozen cities across the country.

“We also have a tour bus that is being built right now to function as a mobile studio,” he said. “We plan to spend about 10 days a month on the road going to affiliate stations all over the country to broadcast the show. So, we have some big projects that are in the works, and there’s a limited amount of time to put all of these things together.

“If something falls into place, I’d love to do Roverfest, but if scheduling and time constraints don’t allow us to, then who knows. It may not happen.”

Contact John Benson at 329-7155 or ndiffrence@att.net.



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