Friday, May 13, 2011

Kicking off Down By the River, the Economic Engine

Ed Walker hails one of the organizers at Down By the River.
Ed Walker shares a laugh with his wife, Katherine.
Ed and author Roland Lazenby, who's working 'River," talk.
Ed with his ever-present kids.
Ed Walker was pacing the big green field, slapping backs, stopping to talk, examining the fixtures and philosophisizing about the Roanoke that can be, as is habit.

Roanoke's most respected and remarkable business professional--and I say that without reservation because he does the right things for the right reasons, always--has built yet another impressive venue in Down By the River, a music extravaganza that almost immediately rivals Festival in the Park in importance and will grow exponentially, given the opportunity.

Ed is so strong in his belief about the potential for Down By the River, which starts tonight, that he called a news conference and was standing, nervously awaiting the arrival of the cameras when I showed up with my Nikon a little while ago. Ed hates publicity and he especially hates to have his photo taken, so I took the rare opportunity to get a little news and a lot of photos. Never know when the photos will come in handy.

Ed's message on this day is that Down By the River is the product of "four elements: quality, commitment, cooperation and competence." It was the cooperation that had him smiling and going on and on, naming names of people in local government, volunteers, professional show people, visitors who just show up from West Virginia, Tennessee and D.C. to see what's going on with all those Grammy winners in one place. In Roanoke. By the river. On a rainy night.

Ed is a marvel of efficiency, competence, organization and belief that what he's doing--whatever it happens to be at the moment--will work for the good of the city and everybody in it. He hasn't been wrong yet. His construction projects, music venues, radio station and the support of a wide variety of businesses that are best defined by the creativity of their owners is becoming legend.

He thinks Down By the River is going places and I'll take his word for it. I don't much like music and crowds, so I'll have to take second-hand reports, but with Ed involved, there will be success. It may take a few years, but it's coming and it will be more than local.

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