Arts & Entertainment News

Stories Around the Urban Campfire returns to East Walnut Hills this Thursday

Stories Around the Urban Campfire will return this Thursday to DeSales Plaza in East Walnut Hills.

The urban storytelling event is being produced by UrbanCincy in partnership with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and Teilen. The event also supports small businesses in the neighborhood like Suzie Wongs, Café DeSales, and Beck Hardware.

“I received very positive feedback from the small, neighborhood businesses involved with the first storytelling event,” explained UrbanCincy owner Randy Simes. “Some people were a bit hesitant to get up and share their stories at the first event, but we’re hoping even more people show up this Thursday and to enjoy the unique urban campfire experience in East Walnut Hills.”

People gather on DeSales Plaza for the first-ever Stories Around the Urban Campfire event held on November 8, 2012. Image provided by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.

As with the first Stories Around the Urban Campfire held on November 8 (online photo gallery), this week’s event will have food and drink available for purchase from Suzie Wongs and Café DeSales. Those who bring the right materials will also be able to make smores over the fire.

According to Simes, there are plans to potentially do more of these events, but for now this may be the last regularly scheduled Stories Around the Urban Campfire event of 2012.

“We received a very positive response from the first event, and we expect there to be a similar turnout this time around,” Simes noted. “However, it is getting colder and colder by the day, and we don’t want people to be uncomfortable. If the weather plays nice, then we might have another one or two of these before the end of the year, and then bring it back in the spring.”

Stories Around the Urban Campfire (11/29) will begin at 6:30pm in DeSales Plaza at the corner of Woodburn Avenue and Madison Road. The event is free and open to the public, and those choosing to share their stories with the group will be given approximately five minutes each.

Teilen founder Joe Wessels will serve as the event’s moderator and will be keeping track of each speaker’s time. Those interested in telling a story are encouraged to contact or with their name and story topic.

Arts & Entertainment

The Heights Music Festival kicks off tonight with over 60 performances

Local music will be featured this weekend as The Heights Music Festival returns for its seventh installment. Over 60 performances will take place on Friday and Saturday nights, spread across five Clifton Heights venues within a short walk of each other.

Performers will include local favorites like The Frankl Project, Hickory Robot, and The Natives, along with newer acts such as DAAP Girls, Buenos Crotches, and Oui Si Yes. Some regional acts will also be featured, like The Regrettes and Shrub, both from Columbus. Performances at Mac’s Pizza Pub, Baba Budan’s, Christy’s, and Roxx Electrocafé are open to ages 21+, while Rohs Street Cafe is open to all ages. Tickets can be purchased at any of the participating venues, and cost $5 for Friday night or $10 for both nights.

The festival is organized by Rome Ntukogu of Far-I-Rome Productions, who joined us for episode #10 of The UrbanCincy Podcast. On the podcast, we discussed how festivals like The Heights can help grow the local music scene by connecting music fans to artists.

The Heights, which was originally known as the Clifton Heights Music Festival, takes place twice a year with a strong focus on local artists. The first six installments featured over 500 performances and were attended by over 15,000 music fans, and with each installment, the momentum continues to grow.


Arts & Entertainment News

Urban storytelling event to take place in Walnut Hills this November

On Thursday, November 8, UrbanCincy is partnering with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) and Teilen to bring Cincinnatians a unique storytelling event to take advantage of the crisp fall nights.

“The idea behind the event is to bring back the experience of gathering with friends and family members around a campfire,” explained Randy Simes, Owner and Managing Editor of UrbanCincy. “It is at these moments where we are able to share stories about ourselves, and learn more about those we care about. The only difference here is that this will be an open event set in a truly urban environment.”

Stories Around The Urban Campfire will take place on November 8 and 29. Graphic designed by Brittany Coyle for UrbanCincy.

Stories Around The Urban Campfire will start at 6:30pm and include approximately one-hour of storytelling, but those attending are encouraged to linger and enjoy the evening at DeSales Plaza (map).

Food and drink will be available for purchase from Suzie Wong’s and Café DeSales throughout the evening, and there will be a temporary fire pit set up for people to gather around.

The storytelling experience will be modeled after what Teilen uses for their other events, where each speaker gets approximately five minutes to share their story. Teilen founder, Joe Wessels, will be on-hand to moderate and keep track of time.

UrbanCincy and Teilen are currently signing up people who would like to speak for approximately five minutes. There is a limited availability of slots, so please sign up as soon as possible by emailing or

Stories Around The Urban Campfire will take place next Thursday at 6:30pm, and it will take place again on Thursday, November 29 at the same time and location.

Arts & Entertainment Business News

2012 World Choir Games attendance exceeded 200,000

The 2012 World Choir Games were long anticipated and oft-hyped, but now that the proverbial dust has settled, the event’s true impact is coming into focus.

According to a new report issued by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), the 2012 World Choir Games attracted 15,000 participants from 64 different countries, and drew more than 208,000 spectators at some 200 different events.

Some of the biggest events included four sellout performances at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, two sellout performances at Music Hall, the opening and closing ceremonies at US Bank Arena, and the Celebration of Nations Parade on Fountain Square which attracted an estimated 30,000 attendees.

The 2012 World Choir Games was a resounding success, but the lack of coordination at the MarketGarden left many mobile food vendors with a bitter taste in their mouth. MarketGarden photograph by Thadd Fiala.

“This was a once in a lifetime event for the city, and we left nothing to chance,” said Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney. “The 2012 World Choir Games has changed us and readied us for better things.”

Thanks in part to all of the visitors for the international choir competition; Cincinnati’s year-to-date occupancy rate is up approximately two percent from 2011, while revenues are up nearly five percent, according to Star Travel Research numbers.

Out of the various sub-regions within the Cincinnati market, downtown Cincinnati remains the strongest hotel market with a 63 percent occupancy rate demanding an average of $76 per room.

While nearly all objective accounts point to a resounding success by city officials and community leaders in hosting the 2012 World Choir Games, some say the event had sore spots from which it can learn. One example, in particular, was the MarketGarden which was established to host local food trucks and carts in a centralized marketplace.

“People were really vying to become part of this, and we were thinking it would be a pretty substantial event with lots and lots of people,” explained Café de Wheels owner Thomas Acito. “Unfortunately it was really dead, and we discovered by the third day that there was food being given out for free at the Duke Energy Convention Center for participants.”

The lack of coordination left many of the vendors that signed up for the MarketGarden with a bitter taste in their mouth, wishing for better organization between the big event and the smaller food market.

The hope, Acito said, was that there would be a real density of potential customers as there is with events like Oktoberfest and Taste of Cincinnati. At this time, however, the city does little coordination between mobile food vendors with the larger events.

The struggles with MarketGarden notwithstanding, the Cincinnati USA CVB is touting the intangible effects of the games.

According to the report, the games garnered 1.4 billion impressions throughout the world, with approximately 900 million of those coming from throughout the United States. The combined publicity value of all of those impressions is estimated to weigh in at $32 million.

Without confirmation it is difficult to speculate about what might be the next major event Cincinnati will host, but all indications seem to be pointing at a Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival in 2013, or the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.

Arts & Entertainment News

Film showcase to kick off this year’s MidPoint Music Festival

A pair of locally produced documentaries will be showcased tomorrow during the first ever MidPoint Film Festival, which is being used to help kick-off the three-day MidPoint Music Festival.

The first will is a film about the rebirth of Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, and the second is a new film highlighting the history of Newport’s seedy past. The festival is being hosted by Midland Film Institute and will make its debut at the School for Creative & Performing Arts’ (SCPA) Mayerson Theater.

Part of the film crew works on Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine along Elm Street. Photograph provided.

Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine, which was highlighted by UrbanCincy in 2010, covers the nascent redevelopment of the historically struggling neighborhood and how the interplay of social and economic forces is being brought out in the rapidly changing neighborhood. It is directed by award winning director Melissa Godoy.

“We started looking around and we found we were right at the beginning of this push. The history of the neighborhood, combined with its present-day components, really helped to make the story,” co-producer Joe Brinker told UrbanCincy.

The film has been shot in Over-the-Rhine between 2009 and 2012, and highlights some of the social struggles surrounding Washington Park.

Newport Gangster, meanwhile, showcases the gambling legacy of Newport, Kentucky, the original Sin City. The film highlights the scale of Newport’s gambling scene and how it gave birth to the modern gambling industry.

The event is free to the public although a $10 donation is encouraged. Both films will also host a question and answer session with their directors and producers. The film festival will begin at SCPA (map) Thursday, September 27 at 6pm. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP online.