North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– Expect TiffinFest 2014 to be a bit bigger this year.
Bigger crowds; a bigger carnival.
Melissa Fontanini and Lyndsie Schnoor, co-owners of Bella Sala in Tiffin, and council member Mark Petersen announced last Wednesday that the headline act for this year’s TiffinFest will be Hairball, a 1980s rock tribute band.
The annual community celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22 through Aug. 24, with many of the typical family-friendly activities that have brought crowds for the last six years: a parade and carnival, the 5K run, a petting zoo, children’s games, adult athletic competitions, vendors, a beverage garden and live music throughout the weekend.
But Hairball, for the uninitiated, is no typical band.
Touted on the band’s website as a “bombastic celebration of arena rock,” the six-members don both costumes and personas of some of the most iconic rock musicians of the last three decades– KISS, AC/DC, Queen, Ozzy Osbourne, Journey and Prince, to name just a few– and blast out note-perfect renditions of their most popular songs. At Hairball’s outdoor shows, the music is punctuated with pyrotechnic effects of the most striking kind: billowing fog, spark showers, thunderous explosions and even an occasional fireball.
Based out of the Midwest, the band has a huge following throughout the country. Schnoor and Fontanini were fortunate to meet the band members when Hairball was booked as the entertainment for a private Bella Sala event, and later, the two co-owners were also able to see Hairball’s performance at North Liberty’s centennial Birthday Bash last July. They knew they wanted to bring the band back to the Tiffin area, and TiffinFest presented a perfect opportunity for the event center owners to offer something unique to the community.
“Our biggest goal in wanting to become involved with TiffinFest is that event planning is what we do,” said Fontanini. “It is in our everyday realm.”
Since Bella Sala has ample outdoor space, the venue is perfect for a large concert, as well as for the Friday night music festival that will also be added to this year’s lineup. Organized by council member Mike Ryan and sponsored by the Masonic Lodge of Oxford, Friday’s music will offer a more eclectic mix– a little blues, a little folk music, and a little bluegrass, to satisfy fans of different genres. After the concert, families can stay and watch the fireworks that will be set off from Tiffin’s East Park.
Also taking place at the Bella Sala property will be TiffinFest’s car show, scheduled for Sunday.
TiffinFest’s previous chairperson Darla Bartels is stepping down this year. Petersen praised Bartels and past organizers who have kept the annual community festival going for the last few years.
“They’ve done a great job,” said Petersen, who was on the first TiffinFest planning committee and one of its co-founders. “We just want to see it continue to succeed.”
New things on the TiffinFest agenda for 2014 include a youth soccer tournament, a mini rod tractor pull and bigger carnival rides that will wow both kids and adults.
The wow-factor is what Peterson, Fontanini and Schnoor were going for when they decided to bring Hairball as TiffinFest’s headliner.
“TiffinFest hasn’t seen anything like this before. It’s always had concerts, but on a smaller scale. People go crazy over Hairball,” said Fontanini.
Petersen agreed that Hairball is a big draw, but offering a well-known band is just part of what he hopes will bring a renewed interest in TiffinFest.
“TiffinFest is going to really accommodate everybody who wants to come, from Hairball to the blues fest, to the carnival and rodeo,” said Petersen. “Bringing Bella Sala in has allowed us to use their facilities, for free. It’s a big asset that they are helping out with organizing the festival.”
Most activities will take place in a new location, at Tiffin’s East Park, where the old soccer fields used to be. West Park will be the venue for the softball tournament and parking. Fontanini said they are still working out details of parking, and are planning to provide some kind of shuttle service from the parking area to the activities and concert areas. Details will unfold as the planning continues, she said. The committee is still working to update the event website, and eventually people will be directed there for further information. Ticket information for the music concerts will also become available closer to the event.
Anyone with immediate questions can call Petersen at 319-936-1768. Meanwhile, the 2014 organizers hope the buzz will spread and excitement will grow.
“TiffinFest is trying to promote a larger venue, with more things for more people,” said Petersen. “We want it to be a thing where families can spend the whole weekend, enjoy the fireworks and all the activities.”
It’s a growing event for a growing town, said Fontanini.
“Tiffin is going through so many changes,” she said. “It’s just an up-and-coming community, with great things going on. TiffinFest has been a good thing for the city, the past organizers were ready to pass the torch, and we were ready to take it.”
It’s an apt metaphor as the committee prepares for the power-packed performance of Hairball, which will do nothing less than set this year’s TiffinFest on fire.